One of the nice things about this time of year is that no one has weeds to contend with; at least not here in the Salt Lake area.
In early spring, when the snow melts away, it is easy to be excited about the garden because there are no weeds; or at least we don't see them. We know they are coming, but for a little while we have a garden almost entirely weed free. Keeping it that way until the snow flies again is probably the biggest challenge in any garden, but IT CAN BE DONE.
When the snow melts it is good to have a battle plan:
1. Know the enemy; Weeds are just plants that are not invited and grow when and where they want to because they can. Some weeds are perennial but many are annual. Knowing how they grow and propagate is important.
2. When it comes to weeds, an offense is more effective than a defense. Taking them out before they take hold helps you to maintain the advantage. People sometimes ask me why I don't have weeds. I create soil conditions that make weed control easy and I CULTIVATE the soil regularly. "You must spend hours working in your yard," they say. I spend far less time than they think; maintaining the advantage over weeds is easier (and enjoyable) than trying to catch up after they have taken over.
FIELD BINDWEED, MALLOW AND COUCH GRASS are just three examples of Perennial Weeds and of course another common one is the infamous DANDELION. Bindweed (aka morning glory) has a root system that can extend more than 10 feet straight down. Couch grass roots have needle-like tips that can penetrate tuberous plants and even wood. Digging the plants is effective only if all the roots are removed. Any roots left will sprout quickly. Mallow and Dandelion have heavy tap roots that are somewhat easier to remove, but they too must be removed completely or the remaining root will sprout again.
In the spring, when the snow is gone and the soil is moist, I walk the yard with a narrow trenching shovel looking for emerging Mallow and Dandelions in the flowerbeds. They are easy to spot and remove. I use the same idea with the Couch Grass. The Bindweed requires a battle plan of its own.
PURSLANE, CRAB GRASS AND SPURGE are three examples of Annual Weeds that die when winter hits. They come back in profusion in the spring from seed production. Purslane is actually very edible; quite tasty and very nutritious. Crab Grass has become a somewhat generic name for Couch Grass and other grassy menaces in the lawn. These and other annual type weeds in the garden are best controlled by cultivating the soil.
CULTIVATING THE SOIL is the best offense against both Perennial and Annual weeds. Any single weed plant, whether perennial or annual, that is allowed to go to seed will produce hundreds if not thousands of new plants the next season. We see the tiny weeds emerge in the spring and turn the soil only to see more emerge within days. Don't be discouraged. Just know that each time you turn the soil you are bringing new weed seeds to the ideal depth and conditions to germinate. It is a process that, with each repetition, seeds die and become fewer and fewer until finally you are winning the battle.
There are many tools that effectively cultivate the soil in the spring, but they loose their ability when flowers and vegetables are planted close together and become more crowded as the growing season progresses. The Kwik Edge tools I have developed are designed to make it possible to maintain the advantage all season long. The Kwik Edge tool targets the grass border of the bed while the Kwik Edge Mini and Buddy turn the soil and keep the weeds from sprouting in the planting bed. The narrow profile of the Mini and Buddy make it effective in crowded plantings without disturbing the flowers and/or vegetables.
Obviously soil composition and condition are critical. The Kwik Edge tools effectively help to achieve the most desirable conditions as illustrated in the Kwik Edge videos. The right tools help to make gardening a pleasure all season long.
Please contact me if you have a question