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How to Prevent Weeds

Preventing Weeds

The definition of a weed is, “a plant growing in the wrong place.” Often native plants, they grow strong and sturdy and take a large share of light, nutrients and water away from your cultivated plants.

Redroot pigweed and portulaca (purslane) produce about 200,000 seeds per plant. These seeds can remain viable in the ground for 40 years. That’s why hoeing deeper than 1 1/2 inches or two inches will bring a new crop of weeds.

Dandelions and burdock have deep taproots which must be almost totally dug up if the plants are not to regrow. Quackgrass has a system of underground stem-like rhizomes with growing points all along them so that new shoots develop if the plant is broken up.

To prevent and get rid of quackgrass weeds in your garden you must diligently dig up all the roots or use a herbicide such as “Roundup” if you have a large patch. If you want to get rid of it in your lawn, first try covering the infested area with a board to cut out the light.

Quackgrass weed has less tolerance to shade than lawn grass and hopefully the weed will die and the grass will recover. If that doesn’t work, get on your hands and knees and paint Roundup on each quackgrass leaf, using a paint brush.

For a large area, kill it all off with Roundup and when the sod is dead, dig it up (down to 6″ or so), replace the topsoil and reseed or resod.

Weed prevention is always easier than the cure. If you want to prevent weeds from growing, keep your lawn well watered and fertilized and it will have a fighting chance against weeds. Avoid pulling manure into the garden that came from animals grazed on weedy pastures.

Unless you have a slug problem, mulches do a good job of holding down and preventing weeds. Grass clippings, compost or newspaper between rows not only stop and prevent weeds from growing but also conserve moisture and add organic matter to the soil.

If you have raised beds or wide rows, the shading of the vegetables themselves will stifle the weeds. There are herbicides on the market that prevent germination of weed seeds between your garden rows. You must read the directions on the container carefully.

If you apply soil sterilant, be absolutely sure that the sterilant will not run or seep into the neighbour’s garden. At least one gardener had trees killed by a neighbor who applied soil sterilant on the back alley nearby. And don’t forget that nothing will grow there for about five years.

Believe it or not, weeds do have their good points. They bring up nutrients from deep in the soil. Weeds with strong roots break up hardpans, letting other plants feed in the lower depths of the soil. Weeds make a great addition to the compost pile too. Weeds make a great addition to the compost pile too. Lamb’s quarter, portulaca (purslane), wild mustard, redroot pigweed and dandelion are highly nutritious and tasty, especially when young.

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