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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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Feb 20


Posted on February 20, 2015 at 2:46 PM by Ann Vallee

by Charlene Burgi

The average rainfall for this time of the year is 36.84 inches at Lake Lagunitas. To date, 36.85 inches of rain have fallen there, compared to the measly 20.34 inches last year at this time. We can only hope more rain is on its way since it is still winter. The conundrum, however, is we are experiencing higher-than-average temperatures! While we are basking in the warm sun and relishing in healthy rainfalls, the bearer of bad news must warn that the combination of rain and warm weather spells one thing: high weed germination!

 Native grasses with daffodils
 Native grasses with errant daffodils
Many years ago, someone defined a weed as a plant growing where it wasn't welcome. That statement could be true in the big picture. But let's face it, a weed is a weed and I am not talking about an errant poppy seed taking root in a bed of asparagus! Or, if that definition speaks the truth, then perhaps there are welcome weeds and those weeds that are not so welcome! And if that statement is more acceptable, we might agree that eclectic gardens have more tolerance for the welcome weeds than do formal clipped gardens.

However you view weeds, or grow the garden type of your dreams, the time is ripe for weeding! The unwelcome weeds need to be addressed before they get too big, spread their roots, or cast their seeds. The soils are damp, which makes it easier to grasp the invading species and extract them—roots and all. The warm temperatures are also perfect for the use of horticultural-strength white vinegar with a dash of liquid detergent mixed together and sprayed in the cracks and crevices that support germination of these intruders. Approach this method carefully as the spray will burn other foliage that comes into contact with it. This spray is topical and will not kill invasive roots. Also keep in mind that this solution will have your garden smelling like a tossed green salad for a few days, so you may want to choose a different day than "spray day" to invite folks over for an outdoor barbeque.

 Seedlings or weeds coming up
 Seedlings ... or weeds?
Invasive weeds are a problem for all of us. We also may have difficulty distinguishing new seedlings in the garden from weeds. The welcome red poppy seedlings coming up may look too much like an unwanted tumble mustard. Thus we are fortunate to have California weeds documented in a database provided by the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources called UC IPM Online. The database provides pictures, tutorials, descriptions of various stages of the plant growth, information about where the weeds can be found, and links to maps showing their prevalence throughout the state. To add more value to this website, you can click on the Weed Identification Tool to enter precise information about a specific unidentified weed found in your garden.

Enjoy the weather. It is a delightful time for gardening!


Ann Vallee
February 23, 2015 at 2:32 PM
As a new gardener, I do have trouble telling weeds from seedlings. I find it's particularly hard when you don't know the history of the garden and what might have grown there before. I once let a batch of weeds grow in, just because the leaves looked kind of interesting. The "weeds" turned into the most beautiful patch of Nicotiana. After that pleasant surprise, I'm afraid of inadvertently ripping out a treasure!

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