Posts tagged weed control

Garden Grinch

At times, I feel a sort of kindred spirit with the Grinch.

    Not when the Mean One slinks through homes, stealing from every Who down in Whoville.

    But on days when I’m looking for a peaceful respite in my city-leased garden, I do have a certain sympathy for Mr. Grinch when he laments about all the “noise, noise, NOISE!””

    I can see where some people need to use their heavy-duty tillers to bust through the sod at the beginning of the gardening season, but this year it seems, every weekend they’re out in force, using the tillers for weed control. The noise can be ear-splitting, even a distance away.

    My garden isn’t pristine, and sure, there are weeds, especially with a rain-drenched summer such as this one, but there are alternatives to using gas-consuming noise pollutants.

    A hoe, for one. This much quieter option might take a little more physical exertion than a tiller, but after testing a tiller once or twice, I’d stick with the hoe. At least it’s easy to put down and rest, as needed, compared with shutting off and restarting the tiller.

   An older gentleman at the city gardens used a manual tiller that he said he picked up at a yard sale for $5. Quiet and non-polluting, both in noise and gas emissions, the tool seemed quite effective at uprooting his garden’s weeds. If anyone is aware if these can be found, other than a garage sale, please let me know.

   My preferred method of weed control is using something I have in abundance: newspaper.

   I use it at home to create new flower beds and at my vegetable garden on the ground surrounding my plants.

   Early in the season, before the plants spread out enough to hold down the newspaper on their own, some type of “paper weight” is needed. For this, I use something else found in abundance: weeds.

   The method goes something like this: Lay down two to four sheets of newspaper surrounding each vegetable plant – this works especially well around tomatoes. Throw some uprooted weeds on top of the paper so it doesn’t blow away. After about a week, the weeds have dried and I cover this with a layer of another free mulch that I have in abundance: leaves.

   The leaves take a little more effort. Every fall,  I rake up a good 20 or so large bags of leaves from my honey locust tree, which I store until gardening season arrives the next spring.

   This newspaper/weed/leaf mulch keeps many weeds at bay for the season, and when city workers till the area in October, the newspaper and leaves are turned into the ground. Worms, especially, seem to like the newspaper.

   I know the method isn’t perfect – some newspapers blow away or a weed sprouts through areas not covered properly – but at least I can enjoy the sound of birds and carry on a conversation without having to go search for peace at the top of Mount Crumpet.   

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Home lawn care

      The following is from Master Gardener Claire Smith: 

 Remember a few years ago when the TV helicopter pilot upon seeing a tornado shouted, “I see it!  I see it!”?  That’s how I felt today when I finally saw my lawn.  While all of the snow did provide a great deal of insulation and protection for our plants, I’m so glad it has finally melted.  Robins are searching for worms and squirrels are scavenging for any unburied nuts. And, on St. Patrick’s Day, I did see a bit-o-the-green peeking through.

     Oh! How I want to get to work on the lawn right now.  My goal this year is a strong turfgrass stand.  An ISU bulletin titled Home Lawn Care:  Weed Control indicates that weeds in a lawn are often a sign of a thin turfgrass stand.  (FYI, Turfgrass is defined as a spreading or stoloniferous [a horizontal branch from the base of a plant that produces new plants from buds at its tip, called a runner] grass as opposed to a tufted grass.)  Maintaining a dense turfgrass stand prevents weed infestations so: 

  • Choose the correct species of turfgrass. Kentucky bluegrass grows best in full sun.  A mixture containing fine fescues is suitable for shady areas.
  • Routine mowing will eliminate weeds with an upright growth habit.
  • Mow at a 3-3 ½” height
  • Inadequate or too frequent irrigation damages turfgrass
  • Identify weeds to determine method of removal.  A visit with your weed sample in hand to your Extension Office (in Marion at 3279 7th Ave. Ste 140, in the professional building in the strip mall next to the farm store) will provide not only an identification of the plant, but a suggested eradication plan as well.

          Weeds can be mechanically removed by pulling or digging. Chemical weed control may be your choice using an application of pre and/or postemergence herbicides.  Most herbicides selectively kill certain weeds.  A second application 7-10 days later may be necessary.  Apply preemergence herbicides in Southern Iowa around April 10th and around May 15th in the North.  A guide for crabgrass control is application of the chemical by the time the forsythia blossoms begin to drop or when the redbud trees are in full bloom. Optimum control of broadleaf weeds occurs when postemergence products are applied during the plants’ early bloom stage.  2-4-D and DSMA will control certain weeds without injuring the turf grass. Early spring applications are safer as some products vaporize and drift under high temperatures and humidity potentially damaging flowers and shrubs.       Apply when air is calm and rain is not expected for 24 hours.Use proper caution when mixing or handling any pesticide.  Most products available consist of a prepackaged mixture of two to three chemicals.  I’m off to pick up branches that are no longer frozen to the ground and watch the critters that are enjoying the advent of nicer weather as much as I am.  Happy Spring!! 

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