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Warm weather breeds weeds

M.G. Gallagher

It’s been another fantastic greening of the valley this year. Staying cold, then warming up fast brings the color out so nicely.It’s also an exceptional flowering for our native shrubs and trees. The weather prompted a lot of the local early bloomers to open about the same time. The serviceberries look like they’re covered with popcorn.With the warm weather, weeds are really growing fast. We’ll take a look at weed control basics, and we’ll also go over growing in existing (unamended) native soil. I have a couple of tips on using my favorite compost, too.There are two main groups of weeds. Broadleaf weeds include anything like dandelions, thistles – anything with leaves. The other category is grasses. The other considerations are weed control in lawns, and weeds in gardens.If you need to kill weeds in your lawn, be sure and use a broadleaf-only weed killer. If you need to eliminate weeds in the garden, a broad spectrum herbicide will kill grasses and broadleaf weeds. There are also grass-only killers that will knock out all grasses, but will leave broadleaf plants (your flowers) alone.If you have crabgrass, nutgrass, and other certain weed grasses in your lawn, there are effective crabgrass herbicides on the market.We’re referring to post-emergent herbicides here. That simply means that you’re treating weeds that are already growing. Pre-emergent weed killers are applied earlier in the season, and keep weeds from germinating, but at this time of year and on, post-emergents are the way to go.Most common herbicides on the market are systemic. They are applied to the plant material, and eventually work their way into the roots, and the weeds die. Because of this, the weed needs to have some foliage to absorb the herbicide. If you just mowed the lawn, and eliminated most of the leaves on your thistles, they won’t really take up enough herbicide to matter. Let your weeds grow some, then spray them.Canada thistle usually requires more than one herbicide application. It is a perennial thistle with a vigorous and extensive root system. It is normal to get some regrowth as the root system may not completely die the first time. Count on two or more follow-ups.Which brings us to gardening in existing dirt. Sometimes it can’t be avoided. Weed control is the major issue. Some weeds can’t be eliminated by digging them out. Grow the weeds enough for adequate foliage, then nuke them. Keep on them until they’re gone.Be sure and wait until the herbicide has dissipated before seeding or planting. The herbicide label will tell you how long until it is safe to grow the good plants.Compost rocksMulching is a good way to suppress weeds that grow from seeds and germinate near or at the surface. It also conserves water.I will promote the wood, plant matter and sludge compost, formerly produced at the landfill, until I am compost. I’ve used tons of it. Yes it smells.Dig it in and water it, and the smell soon goes away. The stuff rocks. It has good tilth (texture). It’s coarse enough to last a long time. It is available at several nurseries, but G.H. Daniels has a huge inventory, and they stuck their neck out a few years ago and stocked up. They have several nurseries in the region, and good supplies at their Wolcott and Gypsum locations. You can buy it bulk and haul it home in your pickup truck, or if you load it into a trash can. It’s good stuff.Time to go kill some dandelions. Until next time.Vail, Colorado


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