The weeds in my bed blues...

A little weed collection

A little weed collection

We have been having some spring-like weather and the weeds are sure taking advantage.  I have a very nice selection of early season weeds.  I thought I’d just share a few...

I’m not sure everyone calls them by the same common name, so I added botanical names – even though I hate giving them any sort of respectability.

Looks innocent until seeds start exploding

Looks innocent until seeds start exploding

Right now I have tons of Hairy Bittercress (Cardamine Hirsute). This is a winter annual that gets little white flowers on pretty tall stems.  The flowers turn into these long seed pods.  When the seeds are ripe, the pods explode when disturbed – shooting the seeds all over.  Apparently, the seeds can fly up to 16 feet! The best way to manage them is to pull them before they make seeds, but in my garden they like to hide inside other plants.  I think I’ll have them forever.

 

Another weed growing now is Purple Deadnettle (Lamium pupureum).  I get this all around the edges of my vegetable garden and flower beds. It has square stems – always a warning sign because square stems belong to the mint family, usually very hardy and fast growers.  It gets pretty blue flowers, but it’s dangerous to let it go.  I try to pull it out whenever I see it and I put it in my brush pile, not my compost so it does not re-root.

Of course the Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) are coming up.  I can grow some pretty impressive Dandelions. The secret here is to get the tap root out – easier said than done. I’ve adopted a somewhat live and let live attitude towards them.  I try to remove than from the garden beds, but let them have the grass. The school-owned lot next to me is basically a dandelion manufacturing facility. No sense driving myself crazy.

I think my most hateful weed (at least this time of the year) is Creeping Charlie (Glechoma Hedoracea), also known as ground ivy.  This weed is a total thug. 

It continues to grow in cold weather while many other things are dormant – twining its way around, over and under all the other plants, smothering them.  It grows over and under barriers, through small cracks in raised beds, and roots all along its stem. 

My poor geranium being choked by a thug

My poor geranium being choked by a thug

The only way I’ve found to deal with it is to dig it out. It does not grow deep, but it’s hard to get all the stems once they mix in with desirable plants. I’m going to try to save my poor little choking perennial geraniums in the picture by digging up this entire section of the bed and trying to untangle them. It’s best to get after it early if you can.

Some people say a weed is a plant out of place.  If that’s true I have a ton of violets (Viola) out of place. I don’t mind them in the grass (I have a very loose definition of “lawn”), but in my flower beds they can grow so thickly that they smother other plants. The only way I’ve found to get rid of them is to dig out each root cluster.  They go deeper than you think and you need to get rid of the whole thing. A good weeding knife can be your best friend.

So that is my tale of weed woe. I guess the common theme here is get them while they’re young. But I think there is an element of letting go of perfection and not making yourself crazy too.