29.7.10

The Weed's World

Weeds are plants growing out of place ( they're not bad, just misunderstood). In their own native habitat, they're just part of the neighborhood. In our world, weeds outcompete valuable plants for fertilizer and water.

We use the word in a bad or valueless connotation ( growing like a weed, weeds infesting my garden, etc),yet we should elevate our knowledge a little. Even the venerable Royal Poinciana can be a weed, if one was growing in your driveway. I would readily admit, though, that some plants are weeds in almost any setting, such as Spanish Needles, Sandspur, Spurge, Dodder Vine, and a LONG list of others. Some trees and palms are weeds with their copious seed production. It is interesting to note that very few native species are considered weeds in our gardens ( some species are). How should we manage the scourge of unwanted plants ? Here is a short list of management tactics...

1.Consider using a different species of plant which is less trouble than the "weed" species e.g. replacing Cluster Fishtail Palms or Veitchia Palms with slower growing species such as Single Fishtail Palm or King Alexander Palms, respectively.A sterile Hong Kong Orchid Tree is a better choice than the type that sets buckets of viable seeds. There are dozens of "better than" choices on the garden market.

2.for smaller herbaceous weed species, mulch is a great preventative measure against weed incursions. Wood chips, grass clippings, pine bark nuggets, and even multiple layers of newspaper are good mulch choices.

3.There are excellent chemical weed-control herbicides on the market, but they must be used very carefully and strictly acording to the label directions. If you do use such measures, try a small area first, evaluate the results, and apply the product exactly as directed.

4.weeds grow fastest on bare soil in the sun, far less so on covered ground in the shade. Groundcovers help prevent weed seeds from sprouting.

We should aspire to manage weeds, not try to eradicate them, as we would manage pests and diseases. Eradication of such problems is expensive and time consuming.A few minutes' time in your garden every week or two and some basic prevention measures are far more effective in controlling unwanted plants than massive corrective actions. We can live with a few weeds, and spend our valuable time with the gardens we create and tend.

Craig Morell
Pinecrest Gardens

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