Do your plants a favor and get your hands dirty
It seems there’s a national day set aside for everything, and it turns out June 13 is National Weed Your Garden Day.
That sort of makes sense, especially in Michigan, where summer weather is still new, so to speak, and gardeners might not have had time to dig up the dandelions and bindweeds and lambs quarters.
According to the National Day Calendar, gardening enthusiasts should take 10 or 15 minutes out of their day and pull some of the weeds that crop up in their flower and vegetable gardens. The website goes on to suggest that continuing to weed 5 or 10 minutes each day will make the job seem bearable. Personally I find weeding therapeutic. When I was a newspaper editor, I got some of my best column ideas while ripping weeds out of the garden beds.
The Farmer’s Almanac states that of the 250,000 species of plants known to humans, only about 3% act as nuisance weeds that should be uprooted. What those weeds do is crowd out the plants we want growing in our beds.
The Almanac suggests five things that you can do to prevent weeds from growing and promulgating amongst your purple coneflowers and bee balm.
- First, never allow weeds to go to seed. Some can produce thousands of seeds, which will take root and magnify your weed problem to a great degree.
- Secondly, turn to mulch. Not only will 2 or 3 inches of mulch in your flowerbed prevent weeds from growing, the mulch also serves as a moisture-retaining layer and creates nutrients as it decomposes.
- Get the right tools! A tiller, a shovel, a hoe – these are all great weapons against weeds. The Almanacrecommends you clean the tools after each use to prevent them from spreading weeds they have already taken from the bed. Two of my favorite tools are an entrenching tool as used by the military in the Vietnam War and a foot-long screwdriver that can reach the deepest of weed roots.
- Draw a line in the sand. Establish a perimeter around your flowerbeds and keep it a weed-free zone. You can mulch in front of the bed or use a weed trimmer to keep the invaders under control.
- Finally, nip the perennial weeds in more than just the bud. You can cut dandelions above ground until you’re blue in the face, but if you leave portions of some weed roots in the ground, they turn into Arnold Schwarzenegger – I’ll be back!
If you don’t know the difference between weeds you don’t want and the flowers or crops you do want, you can find information about weeds that succeed in the Midwest – complete with pictures – by going to weedalert.com/search-by-region-results.php?region=2.