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Keeping weeds under control

The drought continues to roll on in our area. It is becoming the haves versus the have-nots. Meaning, some places get the rain while others have seen little to no rain. The conversation around whether or not someone was able to see some rain from the latest go around has now started with being lucky for what you may have received even if it was just a few tenths. The drought has even has some hardy Minnesotans saying, “Hopefully, it will snow this winter” to help ease the drought. You know it has to be getting bad when people start wishing for snow!

As the summer keeps turning on, and we keep watering and mulching, it is also important to watch the only plants that are out there that seem to grow rain or no rain — weeds. I often wonder if there is a university out there somewhere that studies why weeds are still able to grow in a drought while other plants not so much.

As weeds continue to grow, it is important to keep them knocked back because not only do they rob the plants you want to keep of moisture, they are also spreading weed seeds throughout your property. Spraying for weeds at this time of the year gets tough because when the temperature rises over 80, weed spray can carry easily on the wind and damage plants nearby. When temperatures soar over 90, most weed spray will not work very effectively. When weeds are larger than 8 inches or so, most sprays will have a hard time knocking them down.

It is at this time of the year that your lawn mower becomes your best friend. If you have weeds around your yard, now is the time to break out that lawn mower and keep those weeds trimmed down to nothing. Gardeners will find that most weeds that are growing right now are annual weeds. So keeping them from putting down seeds and spreading out in your yard for next year is very important. The lawn mower as a weeding tool also cuts down on having to use spray. If you have weeds in a hard to reach place, a weed wacker will work too. Gardeners can also hand weed them out of the yard but often times hand weeding can be left to those areas that you cannot mow.

I have even seen avid gardeners go as far as just pulling off the seed heads in order to keep the weed seeds from going all over the yard, leaving the plant. This is effective too as long as you know that weed is an annual. As a gardener who has been battling burdock, I have seen what a heavy load of weed seed can cause in the form of needing to go to battle in order to get them under control. Burdock are a funny plant because they are biennial which means every other year they produce weed seed. This is why it will take a little longer to get them all under control compared to other weeds that are annuals and even plants that are perennial such as Canadian thistle.

The other reason to keep weeds under control is that one weed can produce many thousand seeds, which are happy to lay dormant until next year. According to the U of M Extension, a good example of this is common ragweed. One plant that has gone to seed will produce over 3,500 seeds, which means there is a good probability that there will be the chance of 3,500 new weed plants to deal with the next year. Compare that figure to Maretail or also known as horseweed which one single plant can produce up to 200,000 weed seeds. That would be an incredible amount of weeds to pull.

You can see more about weeds and how they compare to each other plus how to control them at the following webpage: https://extension.umn.edu/yard-and-garden-news/zero-seed-rain.

Whatever your favorite plan is to rid yourself of weeds, the most important thing to do is to keep at them and weed as often as you can. It can be a great stress reliever too. For more information about gardening, you can reach me at s.dejaeghere@me.com.

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