Posts tagged Iowa

The deadly juglone of black walnut trees

The following is by Linn County Master Gardener, Claire Smith:

    The seeder wagon is in place.  The lawn mower towed it out of the shed down to the water way and then with two planks and my favorite son’s strong back we pushed and pulled it to the other side of the ditch.  With the addition of an old wire garden gate staked behind a sapling, a hand pump from my parent’s former home and a rock lined pseudo fire pit filled with Petunias that were on the end-of-season sale, the area reflects the peaceful primitive atmosphere I was striving for.  This is the area I mentioned in an earlier blog that became inaccessible to mow due to last year’s flood.  Hosta, native grasses and prairie perennials will grace the space next year.  We continued our zeroscaping to include a part of the road ditch that I learned is also impossible to mow after the mower and I suffered a close encounter with the culvert.  Now that waterway is filled with large rocks and what was a sloping grassy space is mulched. 

            Hosta will ring the two Black Walnut trees in the roadway ditch.  Hosta is a plant of choice there because I have some that need transplanting and they are not sensitive to Juglone, a chemical secretion from Black Walnut Trees. 

             Discovered in the 1880s, Juglone is produced in the fruit, leaves, branches and root system of several trees with Black Walnuts exhibiting the highest concentration.  The greatest intensity in the soil exists within the tree’s drip line, on an average 50 ft. radius from the trunk of a mature tree.  Plants susceptible to Juglone display yellowing leaves, wilting and eventual death.  Plants sensitive to Juglone include Peonies, Hydrangea, Asian Lilies, and Lilacs.  There are multiple choices that will withstand close proximity to Walnut trees such as most grasses, Phlox, Sedum, Daylilies, Iris and Hosta.

            Now my challenge is to determine plants that are not only resistant to Juglone, but also to the deer population in this neighborhood.  Unfortunately, Hosta is one of the critters’ favorite choices.  They have already decimated the Hosta and Bee Balm in the ditch on the other side of the lane.  A great winter  pastime will be comparison shopping perennials and grasses that are both deer and Juglone resistant as well as low maintenance for those landscapes. 

             I actually enjoy mowing.  And I like the challenge of creating and maintaining flower beds, but the  simple clean lines of zeroscaping does appeal to me.  A few plants and shrubs easily embellish the area without overstating the purpose of low maintenance.

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Answers to your questions and what about those tiny worms??

Cyndi Lee asked the following: I have found a large trail of what at first looked like sawdust, but upon closer examination are very tiny worm like things. They are falling from the large tree I have which overhangs our deck. Any idea what these are? They are very tiny and are falling in clumps. They are a pale yellow in color.

 If you know what the worms might be, please leave a reply below.

 Linn County Master Gardeners have answered some of the other questions you’ve been asking:

 Q: We have a small vine-like weed that is taking over the gardens and flower beds. they are small leafed the stems are strong and grow upon the plants and choke them off. I pull them constantly but they continue to grow back. Is there anything that I can spray them with without killing off the flowers and garden plants? I would appreciate your input.

ANSWER: Cut and paint cut end with undiluted Round Up.  Use a small foam brush.

 Q: I found a large worm on my mom’s apple trees and what to know if they are good worm or bad. where can I take then to find out? I can take them to Ames but where in Ames?????

ANSWER: Bring sample to Linn County Extension Office, 3279 7th Ave., Marion.  We’ll try to identify it here, or give info to ISU.

 Q: I am in need of help to get rid of the seedlings from my pear tree. I need to know when and how to manage them as I have a flowerbed under my tree. I did not put these in but inherited them from the previous owner. They are a nightmare to deal with. Thank you for your help.

ANSWER: They will need to be pulled out.

 Q: I have a beautiful Walnut tree but it has been sprouting branches near its bottom and just does not look right. Can I prune them now ? If so what angle? And should I put something on the exposed ends? Some of the branches are approx. an inch in diameter. I surely don’t want to harm my tree!

ANSWER: The tree is under stress for some reason.  Prune now.  Do not paint anything on wound.  It will heal itself.

 Linn County Master Gardeners also answer questions on Iowa State University extension’s horticulture hotline at (319) 447-0647.

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Fun of July

Following are some of the gardening and eco-events in Eastern Iowa scheduled for July 2009. As always, if you know of other events, add it in a message below, or send an e-mail to: cindy.hadish@gazcomm.com    

 

         Wed., July 1, 12:15 p.m. – Gardening program at Cedar Rapids Library’s Bridge facility at Westdale Mall. What better way to enjoy delicious, healthy food and glorious flowers than to plant your own garden? Master gardener Larry Dawson will discuss maintaining bountiful, beautiful gardens. This Brown Bag Briefing program also includes landscaping, fall tree planting, and audience questions. Bring your sack lunch for this 30-minute program. For further information, visit the Library’s website www.crlibrary.org or call 398-5123.   

 

    Mon., July 6, 7 p.m. – Ushers Ferry Historic Village, Trees Forever’s rescheduled Liberty Tree and Champion Tree Tour. IF THE WEATHER DOES NOT COOPERATE AGAIN- the Rain-date is scheduled for the next evening July 7, 2009 at 7:00 pm at Ushers Ferry Historic Village. Email agreen@treesforever.org or call (319)373-0650 x 25 with your RSVP.

      Wed. July 8, 7 p.m., Indian Creek Nature Center, 6665 Otis Rd. SE, FROM MULTIFLORA ROSE TO BLUESTEM: 30 YEARS OF CHANGE: Members-$3; NONMEMBER- $5;VOLUNTEERS –FREE. Rich Patterson has seen much change in his 30 years at the Nature Center. The landscape has changed greatly–for the better–over those years. Join him on a two-mile walk at a leisurely pace to parts of the Nature Center more ecologically healthy because of the dedicated work of Nature Center staff and volunteers. CALL 362-0664 TO REGISTER.

   Wed., July 8, 5:30-8 p.m., Funky Garden Art, Cedar Valley Habitat for Humanity ReStore, 725 N. Center Point Rd., Hiawatha. Make one-of-a-kind garden art out of odds and ends at the ReStore. Fee: $25. Call (319) 294-1500.

Thurs., July 9, 7-9 p.m., Indian Creek Nature Center, BEGINNING BEE CLASS: SESSION I– MEMBER – $55/SERIES; NONMEMBER – $85/SERIES. This eight session series is designed for individuals serious about starting a beekeeping hobby. The series will take the participant through the annual cycle of beekeeping from establishing a hive to harvesting and marketing the honey produced. The class members will be actively involved in learning activities by working with the hives at the Indian Creek Nature Center. Call 362-0664 to register.

     Sat., July 11, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Friends of Hickory Hill Park will have a garden walk in Iowa City. The walk benefits the group’s stewardship fund for maintenance and restoration work. Four gardens will be on the tour, plus tornado recovery areas on Hotz and Rochester avenues. Speakers will be at each site to discuss prairie plantings, Backyard Abundance and organic lawn care.  Start at 1167 E. Jefferson Street to purchase tickets and pick up a map. Cost is $10 per person or $8 per person if you bike or walk to 1167 Jefferson St. Families are $15. To volunteer or for more information, phone 319-338-5331. To make a donation:  Anyone unable to attend the Garden Walk but wishing to make a contribution should make the check out to LEAF and mail it to:  LEAF, P.O. Box 1681, Iowa City, IA  52244-1681.

    Sat., July 11, 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Indian Creek Nature Center’s NATURAL HISTORY WALKING TOUR OF DOWNTOWN CEDAR RAPIDS. MEMBER -$3; NONMEMBER – $5; CHIDREN:$1. Join Indian Creek Nature Center’s naturalist on an urban adventure to investigate the fascinating cultural and natural history of downtown wildlife. Learn about the pre-settlement ecology of the downtown area and how it has changed with urbanization. This 90-minute tour begins at the old Cedar Rapids Public Library parking lot between 5th and 6th Avenues SE on 1st Street. Stroll along the Cedar Lake Trail near the library to discover native plants growing along the Red Cedar River and learn about urban wildlife along streets and buildings as you walk to Greene Square Park and then to return to the library. CALL 362-0664 TO REGISTER.

    Sun., July 12, 1-4 p.m.,  The Fairfax Parks Committee will have a walk, rain or shine, at five Fairfax gardens. Iowa State University Extension master gardeners will be available at the gardens to answer questions. The walk includes the garden of Megan McConnell Hughes, which is featured on the cover of the summer 2009 Country Gardens magazine. Tickets can be purchased at Fairfax State Savings Bank or Guaranty Bank in Fairfax. Tickets can also be purchased the day of the event at the Fairfax North welcome sign at Williams Boulevard and Prairie View Drive. Cost is $5 for adults and $10 for families. Proceeds will be used to buy playground equipment for Hawks Ridge Park.

    Sun., July 12, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Project GREEN will have a garden walk in Iowa City. If you want to know how to garden with deer, this is the walk for you. Four large gardens at the edge of woodlands are featured on the walk, including one property that covers nearly four acres. All gardens are located north of Interstate 80, off Dubuque Street. Cost is $5 for adults. Children under 16 are admitted free.  Start at any of the following sites for a map, which becomes your ticket for the other gardens: Pat and Stan Podhajsky, 3817 Cedar Drive NE; Maggie VanOel, 8 Oak Park Lane NE;   Twila and Dick Hobbs, 9 Oak Park Lane NE; Bill and Michelle Welter, 15 Oak Park Place NE. Wear comfortable walking shoes. The weather may be hot and buggy, so bring along a bottle of water and bug spray.  To learn more, see: www.projectgreen.org              

     Sun., July 12, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Eastern Iowa Pond Society’s pond tour. Whether you are a serious water gardener, Koi keeper, casual pond owner, want-to-be pond owner, or just plain love flowers and water, you won’t want to miss the chance to view the ponds in this year’s 13th annual pond tour. As usual, pond owners and club members will be available at each pond to answer questions. Will also have a plant and small art/craft sale at one of the pond locations. This year’s tour will feature beautiful ponds in the Cedar Rapids/Solon/Swisher areas. Tickets and maps are $5.00 for adults (kids under 12 are free) and are available at all pond sites with all proceeds going back to the community for area landscape and beautification projects.  A good place to start might be 131 Rosedale Rd SE, Cedar Rapids or 3682 Douglas Dr. NE Solon. For more information please call Jackie Allsup 319-934-3665 or visit: www.EIPS.org

   Mon., July 13, 7-8:30 p.m. – Wickiup Hill Outdoor Learning Center, 10260 Morris Hills Rd., Toddville. “True Lilies–Queen of the Gardens,” illustrated lily presentation by lily expert Wanda Lunn of Cedar Rapids. Lunn is an accredited North American Lily Society Lily Judge and just returned from judging at the NALS National Lily Show in Missouri. She will showcase many different true lily cultivars for sun & shade and give gardening hints for growing them properly. Cost: $2.50. Master Gardeners can count it for instruction hours.

     Mon., July 13 – Fri., July 31 – Indian Creek Nature Center, 6665 Otis Rd. SE, OWAA PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBIT. The Outdoor Writers Association of America Photography Contest winners will be exhibited. The work of noted wildlife photographers features both black-and-white and color photographs. Visit during regular business hours: Monday-Friday 9 AM-4 PM & Saturdays 11 AM-4 PM.

 Wed., July 15, 6-9 p.m., Noelridge Park open gardens, corner of Collins Road and Council Street NE. Tour the gardens with Noelridge staff and Friends of Noelridge volunteers. Activities will be available for children.

   Thurs., July 16- Sat., July 18 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Prairiewoods, 120 E. Boyson Road, Hiawatha. Solar Energy Workshop. This three-day workshop will provide information and experience in installing solar panels to generate electricity. The workshop includes hands-on exposure to assembling pole-mounted solar racks, installing solar modules and wiring of the entire system including modules, disconnects, inverters and grid tie. Approximately half the class will be in the classroom learning how solar energy works. Classroom instruction includes the basics of photovoltaics, racks, solar modules, inverters, basic electricity, design processes and safety. Instructor is Dennis Pottratz, Iowa’s first nationally certified photovoltaic installer (NABCEP). His company, GoSolar, has been in business in Decorah since 1996. He has designed and installed more than 100 working systems. Dennis is a frequent speaker and workshop presenter with I-RENEW. Fee: $250 for the first person from an organization or family; $200 for a second person. Fee includes daily lunch and handouts. Lodging is available at $45 per night. See: www.prairiewoods.org

       Fri., July 17 to Sun., July 19, Seed Savers Exchange 29th annual Summer Conference and Campout at Heritage Farm, Decorah. Organic farmer, author, and teacher, Eliot Coleman will be keynote speaker at 7 p.m. July 18. Other featured speakers include Barbara Damrosch, Coleman’s wife and co-owner of Four Season Farm in Harborside, Maine, and Mike McGrath, host of the popular nationally syndicated show “You Bet Your Garden” on National Public Radio. Coleman is author of “The New Organic Grower,” “Four Season Harvest,” and the newly published “Winter Harvest Handbook”.  The conference will also include several workshops on various aspects of gardening and farming, a panel discussion, field demonstrations, heritage seed swap, lots of good local food, inspiring conversation and even a barn dance. Local vendors will be selling products on Saturday morning. The cost for the weekend conference is $75 for Seed Saver members and $100 for the general public.  One-day only registration is also available. Registration details and a list of scheduled events are available at www.seedsavers.org or by calling Seed Savers Exchange at (563) 382-5990. 

   Sat., July 18, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Nature Photography class at Linn County Extension, 3279 7th Avenue, Marion. The class will be taught by Jim Messina, a professional photographer with many years of experience in photography and teaching experience.  Topics include exposure, metering techniques, tonality natural lighting, photographic equipment, digital photography and macro photography.  Teaching method includes slide presentations using dual projectors emphasizing comparisons with several examples.  The examples provide a framework of understanding basic principles and practical solutions in difficult field situations.  Extensive handouts are provided for the workshop topics.  You can bring your camera. Register by at the Extension office or call 319-377-9839.  Cost is $ 35.00.  Payment must be made when registering.  Registration will close on July 10.  

     Sat., July 18, 7:30 a.m. to noon, “Green” Day at Cedar Rapids Downtown Farmers Market. Area environmental organizations will have space set up at the farmers market.

      Sat., July 18, 9 a.m. to noon, Prairiewoods, Mulch Sheet Beds for Flower and Vegetable Gardens. This workshop will include classroom and hands-on experience building mulch sheet beds for soil used in gardens. Mulch sheet bedding is a permaculture technique used to enrich the soil and decrease weeding. This is a sustainable way to work the soil while retaining water and and to maintain the soil without tilling and the use of chemicals. This workshop will not be held is there is heavy rain. Fee: $10

     Sat., July 18, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. – Daylily and true lily open garden at Wanda Lunn’s home, 526 Bezdek Dr. NW, in Cedar Rapids. Lunn said this will be the height of daylily blooms & the larger lilliums, as well as many other summer perennials.  She will be available to answer questions on cultivation of all these glorious flowers. Lunn says with all the buds, loaded stems & stalks, this promises to be a wonderful summer bloom!

   Sat., July 18, 11 a.m. to noon – There’s nothing like an Iowa prairie in summer. Wickiup Hill Outdoor Learning Center near Toddville is hosting a Guided Prairie Loop Trail Hike.  Participants will learn about the native grasses, wildflowers and prairie wildlife. The prairie loop trail contains an area of sand prairie and a beautiful view of the wetlands below. Meet the naturalist at the kiosk in front of the center. Donations accepted.

    Tues., July 21, 1-2 p.m., Wickiup Hill Outdoor Learning Center, 10260 Morris Hills Rd., Toddville.  Toad Adobe! (Repeat from June 23.) OK, so not everyone finds toads attractive. However, a single toad can consume about 110 beetles, slugs, moths, armyworms and other bugs in a day! Meet our live toad. Make a house for a local amphibian to hang out in your yard. House is made of a clay pot that will be decorated with paint. For all ages. Young children must be accompanied by an adult. Register by July 18. Cost is $5 per toad house. Call (319)892-6485.

   Tues., July 21, 6-7:30 p.m. – The Linn County Conservation Department will hold a public program about turtles at Wickiup Hill Outdoor Learning Center near Toddville.  A naturalist will debunk myths about turtles and show a variety of live turtles.  Please register by July 20 online at www.lincountyparks.com or register by calling 892-6485. Cost: $2.50/adult, $1/child or $5/family.

    Fri., July 24 – Aug. 2, Rummage in the Ramp at Chauncey Swan Ramp, Gilbert and Washington Streets, Iowa City. Ten-day-long garage sale benefitting several area non-profit groups aimed at waste reduction and affordability (most items are priced under $20). Items for donation should be dropped off at the ramp on sale days.

     Sat., July 25, 1 p.m., Indian Creek Nature Center, GREEN AND SIMPLE: COOKING WITH A SOLAR OVEN. MEMBER -$5; NONMEMBER -$8. Create a simple solar oven for backyard cooking. Collect heat energy from the sun to cook simple, tasty meals. Take home basic recipes and techniques. Sample solar-baked foods. REGISTER BY 4 PM ON THURSDAY, JULY 23. CALL 362-0664 TO REGISTER.

     Sat., July 25 and Sun., July 26, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Garden of Zora and Paul Ronan, 5031 North Marion Road, Central City, gardens open for viewing. The garden of Zora and Paul Ronan is located in rural Linn County.  The garden covers approximately 1 acre surrounding the house.  The remaining 32 acres uses no-till cultivation and wild-life habitat to conserve the soil and prevent erosion. Herbicides are used for weed control but no insecticides are used in crop production.  Over the last 10 years the soil has become healthy again.  Twelve years ago the soil was lifeless and heavily fortified with chemicals and we were never visited by wildlife.  Now, earth worms, birds, critters and varmints both are in abundance.  (Some are more welcome than others.) You may find gopher and moles disturbances in the grass, so walk carefully.  Directions:  From I-380:  Exit at Toddville.  Travel east on County Home Road to Alburnett Road.  Turn north on Alburnett Road.  Turn east on Justins Road (gravel).  Justins Road dead ends at North Marion. Turn north and the garden is on the right. From:  Highway 13: Travel north on Highway 13 to Central City.  Turn west on E-16 (Center Point-Central City Road).  Turn north on North Marion Road (gravel) and travel 1.6 miles.  Garden is on the right. From Marion:  Travel north on North Tenth Street.  Tenth Street changes name to North Marion and becomes gravel when it crosses County Home Road.  Since North Marion is gravel for quite a long way, it is better to travel north on either North Alburnett Road or Highway 13.

    Sat., July 25 and Sun., July 26 – Culver’s Garden Center & Greenhouse in Marion is planning a free Do-It-Yourself Weekend, open to the public. During the event, customers will be able to view displays and collect information on a number of home, lawn and garden topics. In addition, kids can enjoy decorating Culver’s grounds with sidewalk chalk. Free summertime refreshments will be available. Information about Culver’s Garden Center & Greenhouse and Culver’s Lawn & Landscaping, Inc. is available online at www.culverslandscape.com or by calling (319) 377-4195.

     Sun., July 26, 2-3 p.m. – “Slimy Scaly Guided Hike,” The Linn County Conservation Department is hosting an afternoon hike at Wickiup Hill Outdoor Learning Center near Toddville to view reptiles and amphibians basking in wetlands and or on sandy trails.  A naturalist will provide participants with a new appreciation of these animals. Meet her at the kiosk in front of the center.  This is a free program.

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Ticks on the uptick

Johnson County Public Health is reporting an increase in the tick-borne Lyme disease. Ticks seem to be plentiful this year and it’s important to know what to do to guard againt Lyme disease, which can be debillitating.

Here is some info from the Iowa Department of Public Health and Johnson County Public Health regarding ticks and Lyme disease:

Ticks pose the greatest threat of transmitting infectious organisms when they bite during the nymphal stage of life. Nymphs are most abundant between May and July. Toward the end of summer through fall, ticks mature to adult stage. Adult ticks can transmit infections to humans, but are less likely to do so, according to the department.

Black-legged ticks, or deer ticks, are responsible for transmitting Lyme disease in Iowa. Deer ticks are very small; adults grow to be about 2 millimeters long. Deer ticks alone do not cause Lyme disease. Lyme disease is caused by an organism called Borrelia burgdorferi, which live inside some ticks and enter the human body after a tick attaches to the skin. The tick must remain attached for 24 to 48 hours for transmission to occur.

Deer ticks favor a moist, shaded environment, especially areas in wooded, brushy or overgrown grassy habitat. The department recommended frequently checking for ticks and offered the following tips to avoid tick bites:

–  Wear long-sleeved shirts, pants, and socks when hiking or walking through grassy areas;

 –  Tuck pant legs inside socks or wear high rubber boots;

 –  Wear light clothing to see ticks on clothes;

 –  Wear insect repellent containing DEET when spending time outdoors.

Ticks should be removed using tweezers. Do not use petroleum jelly, a hot match, nail polish or other products. Grasp the tick firmly and as closely to the skin as possible. Pull the tick’s body away from the skin and cleanse the area with an antiseptic.

Symptoms of Lyme disease usually appear within seven to 14 days following a tick bite. People may experience a red, slowly expanding “bull’s eye” rash surrounding the tick bite area. Other symptoms include fatigue, head, neck, and muscle aches, fever and joint pain. If untreated, people can develop arthritis, joint swelling and potentially severe heart and neurological conditions.

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Riverside Casino bets on farmers market

   Riverside Casino leaders are betting everyone wins at a new endeavor the casino has launched. Farmers market vendors will be hawking produce, crafts and baked goods in the casino’s parking lot once a month through September.

    Veggies and slots might not be synonymous, but public relations director Sharon Haselhoff sees the market as an added draw for people coming to dine, stay or gamble at Riverside Casino & Golf Resort. “It’s just one more thing that we could add to bring people here, for local residents and our guests staying here,” she said.

    Vendors — about 40 are slated to be there Sunday, June 28, 2009, — also have another opportunity to sell local products. While most markets charge stall fees, vendors only have to register to sell at the casino. Haselhoff said Sunday was chosen so the market would not compete with those in Iowa City or other nearby communities other days of the week. Riverside does not have a farmers market, she noted.

    In addition to this Sunday, markets are scheduled July 26, Aug. 30 and Sept. 27, all from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Vendors can contact Jessica Athen at (319) 648-1234, extension 1975, to register for the Riverside Casino farmers market.

For more on this story, see the Saturday, June 27, 2009, edition of The Gazette.

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Your questions: tree talk

Readers have trees on their minds this month.

Dale, who lives in southeastern Wisconsin, submitted the following question: I have a beautiful Walnut tree but it has been sprouting branches near its
bottom and just does not look right.  Can I prune them now ? If so what angle? And should I put something on the exposed ends? Some of the branches are approx. an inch in diameter. I surely don’t want to harm my tree!

Teresa submitted the following: I am in need of help to get rid of the seedlings from my pear tree. I need to know when and how to manage them as I have a flowerbed under my tree. I did not put these in but inherited them from the previous owner. They are a nightmare to deal with. Thank you for your help.

If you have advice for Dale or Teresa, leave a comment below.

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Iowa’s weed season

   I’ve driven right past my plot in the city gardens, not recognizing it from what it was a week, or even days before. The rain and heat make the perfect recipe for weed season in Iowa. They grow fast and my combat methods are slower than the tillers many people use.

    Richard Jauron, extension horticulturalist at Iowa State University wrote the following about weed control in Iowa:

   Weeds are those annoying plants that gardeners love to hate. In the garden, weeds compete with desirable plants for water, nutrients, sunlight and growing space. They also may harbor insects and diseases. Allowed to run rampant in the garden, weeds can drastically reduce yields of fruits and vegetables. in addition, they hinder the performance of annual and perennial flowers.

    The first step in weed control is identification of the weed or weeds. The type of weed helps determine the best method of control. The two main types of weeds are annuals and perennials. Annual weeds germinate from seeds, grow, flower, set seed and die within one year. Perennial weeds live for three or more years. Most perennial weeds die back to the ground in fall, but their crowns or roots produce new shoots in spring. Weeds also can be classified as broadleaf weeds or grasses.

    There are three general methods of weed control in the home garden: cultivation (hoeing and tilling) and hand pulling, mulches and herbicides.

Cultivation and hand pulling effectively control most annual weeds. Perennial weeds are often more difficult to control. Repeated cultivation is often necessary to destroy some perennial weeds. When cultivating the garden, avoid deep tillage. The roots of many vegetables, fruits and flowers grow near the soil surface.  Deep cultivation will cut off some of these roots. Also, deep cultivation will bring deeply buried weed seeds to the soil surface where they can germinate. Hoe or till around plants or between plant rows, and pull weeds close to plants.

    To effectively control weeds, cultivation and hand pulling must be done periodically through the growing season. Small weeds are much easier to control than large weeds. It’s also important to destroy the weeds before they have a chance to go to seed.

    Mulches control weeds by preventing the germination of annual and perennial weed seeds. Established weeds should be destroyed prior to the application of the mulch. In addition to weed control, mulches help conserve soil moisture, reduce soil erosion, prevent crusting of the soil surface, keep fruits and vegetables clean and may reduce disease problems.

    Grass clippings, shredded leaves and weed-free straw are excellent mulches for vegetable gardens and annual flower beds. Apply several inches of these materials in early June after the soil has warmed sufficiently. Plant growth may be slowed if these materials are applied when soil temperatures are still cool in early spring. Grass clippings, shredded leaves and similar materials break down relatively quickly and can be tilled into the soil in fall.

Wood chips and shredded bark are excellent mulches for perennial beds and areas around trees and shrubs. Apply two to four inches of material around landscape plantings. These materials decay slowly and should last a few years. However, it’s often necessary to apply additional material annually to retain the desired depth.

   Herbicides can be used to supplement cultivation, hand pulling and mulches. However, several limitations prevent the extensive use of herbicides in the garden. Only a small number of herbicides are available to home gardeners. Additionally, most home gardens contain a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and flowers. No one herbicide can be safely used around all garden and landscape plants. If not applied properly, herbicides may cause unintended damage to fruits, vegetables and ornamentals. Herbicides are pesticides. When using any pesticide, carefully read and follow label directions.

Weeds are a persistent problem for home gardeners. However, weeds can be effectively controlled by cultivation, hand pulling, mulches and (on occasion) herbicides. Persistence is the key. Gardeners need to be as persistent with their weed control efforts as weeds are in coming back again, and again and again.

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