Master Gardener: Weeds and weeding a never ending battle – The News-Messenger

master-gardener:-weeds-and-weeding-a-never-ending-battle-–-the-news-messenger

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Weeding is a never-ending chore for flower and vegetable gardeners. It doesn’t matter if you have a perfect garden, at some time you will discover weeds trying to make their appearance.My horticulture instructor said the definition of a weed is “a plant growing where it is not wanted,” but my favorite definition of a weed is attributed to Doug Larson (1926-2017 ) a Wisconsin newspaper columnist, who said, “A weed is a plant that has mastered every survival skill except for learning how to grow in rows.”Both of these definitions and others identify the weed as a plant. Plants have both beneficial and harmful characteristics. You need to determine if the negative outweighs the positive when weeding.More: Master Gardener: What's not to like about sunflowers?More: Meet Your Neighbor: Methodist churches partner to grow community gardenWeeds grow quickly, produce an abundance of seeds and have an extensive root system above or below the ground.Some weeds serve as a ground cover for soil retention and as a place for wildlife to live and feed and can become beneficial organic matter for compost. They might have colorful blossoms.Other weeds can be hazardous to humans, pets and livestock or can compete with gardens and field crops for soil nutrition. Even others, called allelopathic plants, such as sunflower, walnut and sorghum, prevent the  growth of favorable plants.Weed guide will help getting to know the plant If you are not sure of the weed in your lawn or garden, you can check it against the photos in the Ohio Perennial and Biennial Weed Guide, which includes over 80 common weeds. This resource was developed by the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center of the Ohio State University.Understanding the life cycle and growth habit of the weed will help you determine how to manage it. Annual weeds have a life cycle of one year or less and usually reproduce only by seeds. Biennial weeds live more than one year and less than two years. Perennial weeds live more than two years.Annual and biennial weeds can be controlled by pulling the weed from the soil. Be sure to grasp the stem as close to the ground as possible. The best time to pull weeds is when the soil is damp. These weeds can also be managed by hoeing. Just remember that disturbing the soil may awaken other weed seeds that could take root and start to grow.Perennial weeds spread by root structures. Controlling these is a little more complex than just pulling the weed out of the ground.Five ways to control weed growthThere are five recognized methods of weed control: Preventative, cultural, biological (weed specific), chemical (herbicide), and mechanical.Heightened interest in preserving pollinators like bees and butterflies has resulted in reduced use of herbicides on weeds. But if you need to use an herbicide, be sure to comply with all product label requirements for herbicide handling, use and cleanup. Always read the label and keep in mind the label is legally binding.The best advice is to keep the weeds under control by tending the garden every few days. This gives you an opportunity to enjoy nature and watch as your flowers and vegetables grow. If you don’t, you and your garden may be unpleasantly overwhelmed.A final weeding quote is from Jean Jacques Rousseau, a French philosopher (1712-1778), “Plant and your spouse plants with you; weed and you weed alone.”Christine Michael is a member of the Sandusky-Ottawa Master Gardeners.
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