Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Weekly Weeder: Prime time to kill spring weeds

          This year, I am concentrating on weeding out heron’s bill and other spring-blooming weeds through the winter, after spreading leaves in selected locations all fall to try to smother them out.  This year, most of them got started in the fall before falling leaves were even available, as we got early cool rain.  Even then, most of the bags of leaves could not be spread while gathering truckloads of them; I was gathering piles of bags for me and my customers while the getting was good and am still spreading them on one property.  A lot of weeds got smothered; some will get through.
          Today, I will be cutting heron’s bill out of Schroeder Park’s tent campground, where it is fairly easy to weed from the silty ground, there being little perennial grass for it to hide in there.  While I’m at it, I will be pulling groundsel, which is already putting out flowers and seed in many places.  Over the summer, the main target was goatheads, but I was cutting heron’s bill then, too, brought up by cooling irrigation water in late summer.
On February 4th, there is a “Weed Wrangle” in Griffin Park, starting at noon.  It is focused on pulling out Scotch broom, an invasive evergreen perennial shrub that is a great fire hazard.  It appears that they will be demonstrating the Uprooter, an amazing tool for pulling out shrubs.  But my focus will be on heron’s bill on the downriver side of the boat ramp, where I was cutting goat heads this summer.  There were young heron’s bill down there then, but I was concentrating on the goat heads, knowing that the heron’s bill could wait until now; it is not yet blooming.
Another target this time of year is bitter cress.  I used to wait until it and many other weeds flowered to pull them, because that is the easiest time to pull them, as the flowers show them up; their stems are strong; and the root is reduced and pulls right out in most cases.  But they are numerous; they all want to bloom close to the same time; and they tend to disappear into the greenery once their little white flowers are done blooming, until they ripen and start popping seeds, when they turn creamy yellow-white and show up bright and ugly, too late to stop the seeds from spreading. 
So I’ve learned it pays to pay attention to them and other weeds before they flower, and cut them as I see them, under the crown, from whence all growth of annual weeds comes.

Rycke Brown, Natural Gardener          541-955-9040