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MMWD Blog: Think Blue Marin

Welcome to our blog! Written by staff at MMWD, “Think Blue Marin” explores all things water in south and central Marin—water supplies, conservation, new projects, watershed management, and more.

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Apr 22

Weeds

Posted on April 22, 2016 at 11:30 AM by Ann Vallee

by Charlene Burgi

We are presently experiencing the perfect recipe for weed growth. It isn't just us who love basking in beautiful clear blue skies and warm days. Weed seeds are also capitalizing on recent nice weather by taking root in the moist warmed earth and sunny days. It is a perfect storm!

Weeds can be difficult to manage if they get out of control. One of my favorite methods to eradicate them at this stage is to sheet mulch by placing layers of cardboard directly over the weedy area and mulching over the cardboard. You can find step-by-step instructions on our website, and don't forget that MMWD offers a rebate on organic mulch.

Spraying weeds with horticultural vinegar and a splash of liquid detergent will kill the top growth of most weeds. The down side is this method will cause your garden to smell like a strong salad dressing for a short period of time! Also beware that this does not destroy the roots, so regrowth is possible.

alternative garden weeding
 Alternative weeding method
This week, I attempted another method of weed control by putting a halter on one of my mares and allowing her to browse on the tall grasses growing in the back yard. Unfortunately, Shiloh does not practice selective weeding. Anything green and in grazing space is fair game, so that experiment only lasted a short time.

My favorite method for eradication is hand weeding. While many find this task an undesirable chore, for me there is something rewarding about it. It seems I can't walk through the garden without stopping to unearth weeds growing around plants. I have total control! It disturbs me that weeds will rob plants of nutrients and water. Additionally, uncontrolled weed roots can intertwine with desirable plant roots, and the act of removing one can often remove them both—another reason to remove weeds before they gain a strong foothold.

It is also helpful to know what type of weeds you are dealing with. Are they annual? Perennial? Seasonal? Perennial weeds need their root systems eliminated, while annuals can be controlled by using the vinegar spray. Sometimes you can eradicate the weed problem before it starts. For example, crabgrass can be eliminated with a pre-emergent before March, resulting in the plant never making its appearance.

Over the years I have heard weeds defined as any plant growing where it isn't wanted. Dandelions are never welcome in my garden, but I understand that it is classified as a great salad delicacy in some arenas. Plants that may be well-behaved in one part of the country may be invasive in another. The best thing a gardener can do is tackle the job when the unwanted plants are young, the sun is shining, and the ground is still moist!

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