The June rains may have left you frustrated and behind in your gardening, but it hasn't hurt the weeds.
On the contrary, these contrary plants thrive on moisture. While you were stewing and fretting that you couldn't get into the garden, the weeds just kept growing.There is nothing as discouraging to gardeners as weeds. No pest causes more crop loss, or causes planting to be destroyed as quickly as weeds.
For any control program to succeed, you must know how the weed grows. They are classified as winter or summer annuals, biennial and perennials. Perennials are further divided into those with simple root systems or creeping stems, either above or below ground.
Annuals are the most numerous weeds, as millions of seeds germinate each year. Cultivating them when they are small destroys them quickly. They can also be easily controlled with a pre-emergence herbicide. This type of product is applied before the seeds germinate. Germinating plants contact the herbicide as they start to grow and are killed.
Biennials grow for one year, flower and produce seed the next year. Destroy them before they go to seed. Many of them have deep tap roots that are best dug out with a sharp shovel.
Simple perennials are best treated as the biennials. Unless there is a severe infestation, simple perennials can be dug or pulled before they produce seed.
The most difficult of all weeds to control are the creeping perennials, including field bindweed, which is explained in the accompanying article. Digging only causes creeping perennials to spread.
Some will live for many years and cause severe problems. With these pests, herbicides are often the most effective tools - but they are not foolproof. Never give creeping perennial weeds a chance to get the upper hand in the garden, or you may end up fighting them for the rest of your life.
Good weed control starts with prevention. Avoid hauling in contaminated soils and soil amendments. Manure that imports millions of weed seeds is not worth the difficulties it brings. Use thick layers of mulch to keep weeds from growing. Weed barriers of cloth or plastic also greatly reduce weed infestations.
Prevent weeds from going to seed. A single red root pigweed is capable of producing more than 175,000 seeds in a single season. If only 10 percent lived and produced seeds for the next two years, there would be 5,359,375,000,000,000,000 pigweed seeds in your garden. Needless to say, preventing weeds from going to seed is the key to preventing future infestations.
Growing a healthy crop of vigorous plants will also help keep weeds at bay. Competition is one of the best weed control methods. Few weeds have the strength to flourish in a dark-green lawn that is never mowed too short. Likewise weeds are not usually a serious problem when giant squash vines with tall, broad leaves shade the soil.
Cultivation is another excellent way to destroy many weeds because they are easily uprooted. Cultivation has good and bad points. Annual weeds are usually the most prolific, but also the easiest to control. As the young plants start to grow, they are susceptible to any interference to their growth. A simple swipe of a sharp hoe or light raking and the weeds are uprooted.