Steele: Weed now to conserve water and time

Russian/Siberian Elm, Tree of Heaven, and Russian Olive are all invading our natural landscapes.

Morning glory weed (field bindweed) is currently blooming in many lawns and gardens. This noxious weed has an extensive

With this welcome rain, gardens are flourishing and so are weeds.

Weeds compete with your plants for available moisture. This becomes critical during dry periods.

If you mulched all the bare soil in your gardens, as I wrote about last week, you will have far fewer weeds than an un-mulched garden and they will be easier to pull out.

The smaller the weed is when you pull it, the easier it is to remove.

This is especially true with tree seedlings.

There are three drought tolerant weed trees common to the valley. Because they survive without supplemental water, they grow almost anywhere.

Their adaptation to drought is to rapidly grow a deep tap root.

Russian/Siberian Elm, Tree of Heaven, and Russian Olive are all invading our natural landscapes.

In urban areas they seed into cracks in the pavement or sidewalks, against foundations and on vacant land.

In gardens they hide in plants and hedges, often going unnoticed or ignored.

All have a very deep root, even when small and they develop in awkward places, making them extremely difficult to remove.

They are deciduous trees so if you cut them down and do not remove all the roots, they simply re-sprout.

Other tree seedlings, such as maples, can cause similar problems in gardens.

Learn to identify and watch out for small tree seedlings. With moisture there is always a high germination rate.

Pull weeds in a timely manner. Letting them go to seed is simply creating a make work project for the future.

Weeds are expert at hiding inside plants. Be sure to watch for them whenever you are in your garden.

All weeds that are in flower or have gone to seed should go in your yard waste bin.

Never put any weeds that have spreading roots such as quack grass or morning glory weed into your compost.

If in doubt, do not put weeds into your compost. Generally it doesn’t get hot enough to kill seeds and roots.

When a garden plant becomes entangled with weed roots such as quack grass or morning glory, it is best to dig the plant out, discard it in the green bin and clear the area of weed roots before replanting.

Once a badly infested area is cleared of weeds, it’s wise to leave it empty for awhile to make sure you got all the weeds.

Alternatively, plant annuals so you can thoroughly dig over the area again at season’s end before putting in permanent plants the next year.

If you are unsure if something is a weed, ask an experienced gardener.

The Regional District Office now has copies of a useful booklet from the Ministry of Agriculture: ‘Field Guide to Noxious Weeds and Other Selected Invasive Plants of British Columbia’.

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