By Trey Pitsenberger, co-owner
Controlling weeds in our gardens can sometimes
seem overwhelming. The weeds grow so fast here that it
can become a full time job just keeping up with them.
Those of us who have only a day or two a week to work
in the yard can often spend the whole weekend just keeping
the weeds in check. This certainly does not leave much
time to enjoy the bounty that spring in the foothills
offers. What can we do to lesson the time spent weeding,
and lengthen the time enjoying our landscapes.
If you have an aversion to using chemical
weed controls you will have to spend more time weed eating,
and or pulling weeds. The sound of power weed eaters
punctuating the hills on the weekends has turned into
a traditional sound of the season. The power weed eater
is certainly a huge jump in progress from the old fashioned
scathe our ancestors used. Be sure to wear long pants,
long sleeves, and eye protection. Keep the kids away
from the area you are working as I have found rocks and
other debris can be thrown quite a distance form where
you are working. Watch out as you get close to tree trunks
as the spinning nylon line can cut into the trunk opening
the way for insects, such as borers, to attack.
In our vegetable garden my wife has come
up with a solution that has vastly decreased the agony
of pulling the weeds. In the fall when the last of the
vegetables have been removed she covers the garden with
6-mil thick black plastic. She holds it down with rocks
placed all around the edges and some in the middle. In
the spring when she pulls it off there is not one weed
to be found. In addition the ground is soft and workable.
It seems that the impact of the rain during the fall
and winter is what compacts the ground so much. Having
the rain impacting the plastic reduces the compaction,
allowing her to not have to till the soil. Digging is
a breeze. What an incredible time saver.
Round up is probably
the most widely used pesticide in the foothills. I
use a product called Finale, which works quicker and
better in cold weather. Either way you should mix the
product with water and a ‘spray-grip’,
which helps the spray to stick to the leaves of the weeds.
Studies show both products leave no residual in the soil,
so planting can take place soon afterward. The leaves
of plants, not the roots, absorb the products. So you
can take the spray right up to the edge of trees without
damaging them. Just keep it off the leaves of desirable
plants. The weed will start to turn yellow and then die
within a week in warm weather and longer in cool weather.
I use Finale along the fence lines of the property and
up and down the rows of grapes and fruit trees we have.
This allows me to avoid getting to close to the trunks
of these plants with the mower.
One great way to
reduce the weeds in the garden is to prevent them.
Surflan is a pre-emergent. Pre-emergents prevent weed
seeds from sprouting. After you have planted your flowers
or shrubs you can spray surflan right over the tops
of the plants, without harming them. Within twenty-one
days you need to water the surflan in, and off the
foliage of the desirable plants. This forces the product
into the soil where it will prevent weeds from growing.
The only source of surflan that I know of is in a product
call ‘Weed Stopper”,
distributed by The Master Nursery Association.
I hope the above suggestion will help you
decide which method of weed control is for you. The secret
is to get them while they are young.