April 23, 2018
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It takes many hands and hours to eliminate weeds

Rob Ostermaier | Newport News Daily Press/McClatchy
Rob Ostermaier | Newport News Daily Press/McClatchy
Students pull weeds out of a flowerbed at Coventry Elementary in Yorktown, Va.
By Kathy Van Mullekom, Daily Press (Newport News, Va.)

If you garden, they will come — weeds, that is.

New gardens in particular often harbor many weeds, according to White Flower Farm, an online gardening center at whiteflowerfarm.com.

The nursery said that the key to taming weeds is effective week-after-week control techniques. By dealing with the problem weekly, particularly as your garden becomes established, weeds will be less of a problem. This is partly because weeds have not been allowed to develop (and reseed) and because the cultivated plants get larger and more robust.

But even established gardens are occasionally invaded by weeds. White Flower Farm suggested several strategies you can use to minimize this nuisance. The following tips will help give you an advantage over your weeds, and keep your garden looking its best.

• Weed a little bit at a time, but often. This way weeds won’t get the upper hand and you won’t spend hours at a time pulling them.

• Pull weeds when they’re small — not only are they easier to remove, they disturb less soil. When you disturb soil in a bed, buried weed seeds may come to the surface and germinate.

• Corn gluten can be applied to beds to prevent annual weed seed germination. Do not use it if you are sowing seeds in the same bed.

• When removing perennial weeds, remove the entire root if possible. Many perennial weeds will sprout again from pieces of root.

• Use mulch to block weeds from the sun — a 3-inch layer of organic mulch will prevent many weeds from germinating, but remove all visible weeds before applying the mulch.

• In some areas of the garden, such as around trees or beneath shrubs, or at the garden’s edge, landscape fabric can be used to create a physical barrier to weeds. Cover the landscape fabric with mulch, such as wood chips or pine needles, for a finished look.

• Never allow weeds to go to seed — this applies to the garden as well as surrounding areas. Many weed seeds are carried by wind, so the less weedy your yard is, the less weedy your beds will be.

• If your cultivated plants self-sow, the seedlings may actually qualify as weeds. Remember, a weed is a plant growing where it doesn’t belong. So if you have a plethora of Cleome or Cosmos seedlings, you may need to pull them or at least dig them up and transplant them to another location.

• Perennials may spread beyond the space you have allotted them. Once again, they must be removed to prevent a weedy looking garden.

• In a vegetable garden, mulch with newspaper beneath a layer of straw.

• Keep weeds from creeping into your garden by edging it with a solid barrier such as brick, pavers, stone or wood.

• Never walk by a weed — pull it when you notice it, or it will just get bigger.

• Make sure compost is thoroughly decomposed before applying to your garden beds. Some weed seeds, and even the seeds of cherry tomatoes, can survive over the winter in a compost pile, and you don’t want to spread those around your perennials.

For other gardening tips please check out “Gardening Help” at www.whiteflowerfarm.com/gardening-help.html

Contact Kathy Van Mullekom: 7505 Warwick Blvd., Newport News, Va. 23607; (757) 247-4781; kvanmullekom@dailypress.com.


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