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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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Jun 19

The Optimum Condition

Posted on June 19, 2015 at 8:39 AM by Ann Vallee

by Charlene Burgi

It rained recently in Marin. It wasn't a significant amount of rain, but just enough to provide moisture to the ground and stimulate seed germination. This is a blessing if you are planting a garden from seeds, but weed seeds also benefited from this delightful shower.

The beautiful weather following the rain warmed the soils. The combination of damp soil and perfect sun-drenched light can cause the most hard-shelled seed to emerge from its seed case.

 Invasive oxalis making its way into the greenhouse
Seeds are more apt to germinate in open ground or in sparsely mulched planting beds. If you have recently worked the soil, dormant seeds may have been exposed to these favorable conditions, and thus you may find foreign weeds appearing in your garden. It is shocking to note that some seeds, like mustard, can germinate after 600 years of dormancy! And there is added horror knowing oxalis can throw its seeds over 10 feet—as I watch it invade our greenhouse! It is a pretty plant to look at and the chickens love to eat it, but it is ever so invasive.

Weeds! What can be done about them? Sometimes we can sheet mulch over them. However, weeds coming up in cracks around the cement walkways require a different approach. Pulling them out is one option. Or, you can mix together 1 gallon of white vinegar, 2 cups of Epsom salts, and a 1/8 cup of Dawn liquid detergent. Pour or spray this concoction on the invading plants to burn back the foliage that is popping up. Note: This mixture will not kill the roots of plants, and the perennial weeds will poke back up in time. If there are just a few troublesome weeds that are not near other plants, pouring boiling water directly on them can also eliminate the problem.

If there is a huge area (like my backyard) of weeds, sheets of plastic can be pinned down to the soil to suffocate and cook the weeds and seeds. The downside is that the sheets of plastic need to stay pinned in place for several months during the heat of summer in order to work.

The easiest, but most tedious, method of eliminating unwanted plants is to pluck them out of the ground just as they emerge. Meticulous scrutiny is required on the part of the gardener as one errant weed can contain thousands of seeds just waiting once again for the optimum conditions to occur.

If you are struggling to identify your weeds, check out this great website that may help you key in the problem!

And yet again I say—weeds! The bane to gardening!

MMWD Open HouseFREE Customer Appreciation Open House on June 27

MMWD is hosting a free open house event on Saturday, June 27, to show appreciation for our customers’ conservation efforts. Join us from 10 a.m. to noon at 220 Tamal Vista Boulevard in Corte Madera for a fun-filled morning fit for the whole family. Come enjoy tours, demonstrations, kids' activities, and refreshments, plus learn more about your water and how you can conserve it.


Mike Van Horn
June 19, 2015 at 10:12 PM
Regarding weeds: As Pappy LaRue always said, back when I was a boy in Missouri, "If it's green and you mow it, it's lawn."
Charlene Burgi
June 23, 2015 at 9:17 AM
If the chickens could talk they would say, "If it's green, it's dinner!"

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