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Keep Ahead of Weeding!


Dandelion in full bloom

Here is the age-old question: what is a weed? Every gardener knows the answer to that question – a plant growing in the wrong place or growing where it is not wanted. Perhaps Ralph Waldo Emerson put it best. He described a weed as a plant whose virtue had not yet been discovered. There are many plants we all agree are weeds, like crabgrass, black swallow wort, and bindweed, for example. Many gardeners usually have their “favorite” weed. I love dandelions with their cheery yellow flowers. But leaving them in the garden comes with a cost. Each flower head produces hundreds of seeds. If I don’t get the dandelions out of my perennial garden in the early spring, they’ll take over the garden.

It’s still chilly in the northeast. Many perennials flowers are not yet up in the garden. So, this is a great time to pull out early weeds while you can see them in the dormant garden landscape. I will highlight a few of the main weeds I am working on right now in my perennial garden.


wild onion

Wild onion - be sure to dig out the bulbs

Wild Onion

It’s entirely worth your effort to get this plant out of the garden. Dig down around each clump of wild onion before pulling them up so that you get all the underground bulbs. Wild onion multiplies exponentially in your garden through the underground bulbs and through the flower head. Wild onion produces an unremarkable flower filled with small bulblets. The bulblets fall on the ground and …. whoosh! Your garden beds and lawns are filled with wild onions! Wild onions are edible, though not to be confused with chives or scallions.


Garlic mustard

Garlic Mustard

Garlic mustard is a much-loved weed of wild foragers. I hear it makes a great pesto sauce. But, once again, in the wrong place it is a pesky weed. It grows in both sun and shade, and in both poor and rich soil. Right now, it is congesting my privet hedge. Privet is not yet leafed-out so I can get in there and clean out all the weeds. Privets seems to be an excellent trap for weeds and seedlings. Make sure you get the root system when removing garlic mustard. A trowel or spading fork will help. If you love garlic mustard, consider keeping just a small group of plants and deadhead the flowers before they go to seeds.


Poa annua

Poa annua or annual bluegrass

If it looks like the lawn is overtaking your garden beds, it’s probably Poa annua. This grass produces seed during the entire growing season, so you need to keep up with removal. Look for small clumps of grass with a dense, fibrous root system. Grasp clump near soil making sure you remove the roots.

Getting rid of weeds early in your garden gives you the opportunity to see other plants coming up. You can start making plans for transplanting, dividing and installing new plants. More weeds will appear into the spring and summer. We’ll look at those as well. Beware of the bindweed! Coming soon in a garden near you!


Bonus!

Did you know that there is a pink dandelion cultivar?


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