Weeds Tell You A Lot About Your Garden

Spring doesn’t officially begin until late March, but most South Sound gardeners start their countdown on Dec. 21 — the moment that the dark days start to reverse and begin their pilgrimage to be lighter longer.

Beneath the still March and April Earth, two activities are raging. You’d better believe the slugs and weeds are not resting. As the soil warms up, slugs and weeds are everywhere.

Love the Weeds?

As frustrating as weeds can be (think of pulling them as sort of a garden meditation), weeds tell you a story about what your soil needs or what will successfully grow best. Weeds offer vital information, so before you “meditate” all of the weeds out of the garden and into the compost bin, take a closer look at what kind of weeds are growing.

Dandelions grow pretty much everywhere, but they also indicate poor soil that is high in potassium and low in calcium. Pulling out the taproot of dandelions helps aerate the soil and allows for more nutrients to penetrate. Those specialty tools specifically for dandelion weeding really do work.

Morning Glory or bindweed might look like a beautiful white-flowered vine when it blooms over an abandoned fence, but it can swallow an entire garage once it takes hold. Wild Morning Glories (not to be confused with the beautiful annual ones) indicate compacted soil. Work like crazy to get rid of this weed any way you can. Add compost, and fluff up the soil. They’ll hate that.

Meet Weeds that Mean Good Soil

Chickweed indicates that your soil is rich, sweet, and high in nitrogen. And even if it covers a large area, it’s easy to scrape off the top of the soil because it is very shallow-rooted. Shotweed, spitweed, Pop-in-the-eye, or bittercress is another pervasive weed in the South Sound. Ignore this one at your peril. Once it sets seed, it “shoots” its seed in all directions, and the battle begins. Shotweed is easy to pull up when you see the bright-green rosettes with little white flowers. Now is the time to get rid of it before it turns into seed rockets. Shotweed indicates that your soil is full of goodness, sweet and fertile, but get it before it gets your garden.

You Will Dig This Book

How to Eradicate Invasive Plants

Courtesy Amazon

How to Eradicate Invasive Plants

There are certain books you’ll wear out with use. How to Eradicate Invasive Plants by Teri Dunn Chace is one of them. Weedwise, just like the author says, it’s better to “know thy enemy” and learn how to “combat thy enemy.”

Chace’s all-encompassing weed compendium covers water plants, annuals, perennials, grasses, bamboos, vines, shrubs, and trees.

Every method of eradicating invasives is discussed. Timing is most important, and Chace guides you through the best time to control
the unwanteds.

If you like the way an invasive plant looks but you don’t want it to take over, Chace gives recommendations on noninvasive plant alternatives. This is a particularly valuable section. Each of the 200 listed invasive plants comes with some history (origin); how it reproduces (seeds, roots, or stems); ways to control it (chemical and physical); and, best of all, — thought-provoking anecdotes in the “notes” section. It’s a keeper.

Timber Press, $24.95

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