ca0e6d345adb531ad8f05e5876ed1439

Weeds are evil.

 Weeds, in gardens or in nature, are subtle invaders. Like miniature terrorists, they blend in for a while, hardly noticed and appear to assimilate with their neighbors. But eventually, if not rooted out, bad things begin to happen.

Ron Vanderhoff

In natural areas weeds contribute to desertification, drought, global warming and displacement of our native plants. Weeds encourage pest animals like Starlings, mice, rabbits, rodents and introduced insects. Weeds contribute to Lyme disease and the siltation Upper Newport Bay and other waterways. On local hillsides weeds increase the fire frequency from once a century to once a decade.

Weed invasions create alternate systems that do not support natural, native processes. In turn, a nearly sterile ecosystem favors more weeds. Soon, a diverse healthy native habitat is destroyed, replaced by something that is green, but otherwise nearly lifeless.

Weeds are subtle in their assault; hardly noticed, until the consequence of their presence is beyond repair. Even then, because weeds are stealth invaders, they are seldom held accountable for their actions. There is nothing good about weeds.

In a garden, many traditional activities may favor weeds. Disturbing the soil by tilling and cultivating favors weeds. Fertilizer favors weeds. Watering favors weeds. Soil compaction favors weeds.

With last month’s winter rains, weeds are sprouting everywhere. Glance out the window to your garden, notice the vacant fields as you drive along and gaze toward our nearby canyons and hillsides. Those aren’t wildflowers and native plants you are seeing. Those little green monsters sprouting underfoot are alien invaders, weeds from distant parts of the world.

There are three strategies for dealing with weeds in a garden; mechanical control, chemical control and cultural control. Usually some combination of all three produces the best results.

weeds_are_evil.jpg

Cultivating favors weeds, but slicing off the weed with a shallow hoe or removing it whole with a trowel can be effective. Remove any weed you slice or dig if flowers or seeds are present. Mowers and string trimmers do not control weeds and may assist in spreading the problem. 

 Weed killers kill weeds. Those that stop weeds from germinating are called preemergents. Others are postemergents and are applied to growing weeds. Weed killers can also be divided between selective types, which are only kill certain groups of plants and non-selective types, which kill everything. When using weed killers timing and proper use is important. Follow the label carefully, especially the details about dilution rates, temperatures and environmental warnings and use only what you need. The most popular method of controlling weeds is to douse them with a synthetic weed killer, like RoundUp. We’re a society of instant results and a bottle of Roundup often is our first impulse. But I prefer more natural methods of weed control whenever I can.

Homemade organic concoctions can work well on young annual weeds, but will not be effective on tough perennial weeds. A blast of vinegar, full strength, sprayed from a plastic spray bottle will work well as well as RoundUp. So will rubbing alcohol, diluted with as much as ten parts water. When using alcohol or vinegar the results can be even better by adding a few drops of dishwashing soap to the mix. Alternatively, a strong dose of plain dishwashing soap, diluted to about five tablespoons per quart of water will also do the trick. Topical sprays, like these, work best on warm sunny days, not cool, cloudy days.

Nature will fill a vacuum. Bare ground encourages weeds. Culturally, a surface mulch, used throughout the exposed areas of a garden will discourage weeds. Apply mulch liberally and frequently; it’s good for the soil, good for the plants, and very good at reducing weeds.

Water the garden only when you need to. Weeds need moist ground to germinate, that’s why they are so abundant at this time of the year. If you over irrigate and irrigate the unplanted areas of your garden your weed problem will be far worse. During our dry summer months there are very few weeds grow in our native canyons and hillsides. No water, no weeds.

Weeds are subtle, evil invaders, causing havoc wherever they appear. But, like terrorists, they can be controlled.  

Questions from Readers January 24.

Question:
I have been having the worst trouble with powdery mildew on my tomato plants. I don't water the tops of the plants at all, only the ground beneath them. Then, when my Dahlia's come up they get it too. I have a swimming pool and live where it seems to be overcast a lot. I like to garden with natural products. I'm so frustrated I just want to cry.

Melody, Huntington Beach

Answer:
I don’t like to see women cry, so let me help you. Foremost, tomatoes growing during the winter are going to be a struggle, and in my opinion definitely not worth the effort. Yes, tomatoes will “survive” in the winter, but powdery mildew will be a problem you will likely never escape. You’re working against the nature of a tomato plant, not with it. Second, in your location especially, your plants need lots of full all day sunlight and especially good air circulation. Crowded spaces, with walls behind them or in enclosed gardens are going to encourage more mildew. Grow powdery mildew sensitive plants during their natural season, in 100% full sun and with great air circulation and you won’t need that box of tissues any longer.

Ron Vanderhoff is the Nursery Manager at Roger’s Gardens , Corona del Mar.


Plant Care Reminders

Loropetalum chinense Monthly Plant Care
Shrubs Julie Bawden-Davis

Chinese Fringe Flower (Loropetalum chinense) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!
Vanda Orchid Plant Care
Orchids Costa Farms

Vanda Orchid Plant Care

Orchids are as easy as A - B - C!

Potato Mini Tuber Growing Guide

18787 Renee Shepherd
Planting Potatoes
At Renee's Garden, I offer only the varieties that are very special for home gardeners,…

Iris douglasiana - (Douglas Iris) -…

12263 Julie Bawden-Davis
Douglas Iris
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

Avocado (Persea americana) - Monthly…

21667 Steve Brigham
Avocado Monthly Plant Care
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

Gardening Articles

Killing a Lawn
Projects Ron Vanderhoff

How to kill a lawn

The lawn that just won’t die! Surprisingly perhaps, that’s exactly the fear that many people have when contemplating switching their lawn to something else.
Melon from Seed
Seasonal Gardening Ron Vanderhoff

Summer Vegetables are Hot

May and June is the perfect time to plant heat loving summer vegetables.

APLD International Landscape Design Merit Award Winner: Elizabeth Przygoda-Montgomery

6355
Southwest Retreat Make Over
Association of Professional Landscape Designers Announces: Annual International Landscape…

Composting With Worms - Everything You Wanted to Know

8336
Red Wiggler Worms
Everything you wanted to know about composting with worms, but were afraid to ask:

How to Start Seeds When Living in Cold Climates

23325
Cucumber Seedlings
Growing plants by starting them from seeds is one way to economically garden.

Plant Recommendations

Jim Threadgill
Plant Recommendations jim threadgill

Great Bulbs that Naturalize & are Drought Tolerant - Southern California

Jim Threadgill's Top Plant Recommendation: Favorite Great Bulbs that Naturalize & are Drought Tolerant for Southern California.
Hydrangea paniculata
Plant Recommendations Lois J. de Vries

Shrubs - Mid-Atlantic

 Lois J. de Vries' Top Plant Recommendation: Favorite Shrubs for the Mid-Atlantic.

Shrubs and Small Trees - Southern…

14258 evelyn alemanni
Buddleia davidii
Evelyn Alemanni's Top Plant Recommendation: Shrubs and Small Trees for Southern…

Weeping Trees - Southern California

30091 Don Walker
Kashmir Cypress
Don Walker's Top Plant Recommendation: Favorite Weeping Trees for Southern California.

My Favorite Climbers - Southern…

12871 Pat Welsh
Cup-of-Gold Vine - Solandra maxima
Pat Welsh's Top Plant Recommendation: Favorite Climbers for Southern California.

Featured Plant Care

Dill

Plant Care Reminders - Herbs - Sunset Zone 24

in Herbs
Do you live In coastal southern California? Do you grow any of these Herbs?
Peach Monthly Plant Care

Peach Tree (Prunus persica) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

in Edibles
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!
Platycerium Monthly Plant Care

Platycerium bifurcatum (Stag Horn Ferns) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

in Ferns
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!
Camellia plant care

Camellias Planting and Care in southern California

in Shrubs
Camellias are native to Japan, China and Indo-China, where they grow on well-drained…

Latest Articles

Peach Leaf Curl

Peach Leaf Curl - Information Hub

Peach leaf curl is a common problem found on leaves of Peaches and Nectarines (and their…
Avocado Information Hub

Avocado - Growing and Plant Care Information Hub

in Edibles
We're bringing relevant information about Avocados (Persea americana) to one fantastic…

Popular Articles

Using the Mulch for Home Gardeners

Home Gardener: Using All The Great Features on the Mulch

You Can Use The Great Features on the Mulch For Free!
Baseball Field Maintenance

Baseball Field Maintenance - A General Guide for Fields of All Levels

in Lawn
More great baseball field resources can be found here (including a pdf version of this…
Queen Palm Care & Use

The Queen Palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana) Care & Use

in Trees
Jungle Music Palms and Cycads is a family owned and operated business established in 1977
Microgreens

What are Microgreens and How to Grow Them

in Edibles
Microgreens are tiny leafed vegetables that are grown from seed and require very little…

User Guides (Slide)

Popular Recommendations (Slide)

Upcoming Events

View All Events

Who's Online

We have 1157 guests and no members online