A step-on claw garden weeder is s wonderful invention. (Mary Lowther photo)

Mary Lowther column: Some weeds can help us out, others need to be shown the door

Most weeds’ extensive roots help break up the soil when they rot.

By Mary Lowther

Some weeds help out in the garden. When lamb’s quarters are planted around a vegetable infected with leaf miner, the weeds attract this pest away, allowing the vegetable to thrive. Between growing seasons, if you don’t have cover crop handy, many weeds make a decent enough ground cover, pulling up nutrients and storing them in their systems, adding to the soil when they get dug under before going to seed. Most weeds’ extensive roots help break up the soil when they rot. Most, not all.

During the growing season, however, most weeds should be eradicated because they choke out our crops and use up nutrients and water. Here are a few methods I’ve learned to control weeds in the garden.

1) Soaker hoses water only the areas you want so fewer weeds grow in the dry soil.

2) Hoe out the first bloom of weeds in early spring before they go to seed.

3) After spreading compost on the bed and hoeing this in, leave the bed for a couple of weeks to allow the weed seeds to sprout. Then hoe this under, plant your crops and lay down the soaker hoses.

4) Hoe the weeds between crops until dry summer starts, then mulch the beds with about six inches of straw or even weeds you’ve pulled out. Remember to rake all this off at the end of summer and toss it into the compost bin or you might foster hordes of slugs et al who find the mulch a cozy retreat in cold weather.

5) When a bed rests between vegetable crops sow a cover crop to choke out weeds and retain nutrients from the soil.

6) Don’t rototill because this brings up jillions of weed seeds that can plague you all summer. Hand digging brings up just a few seeds.

You may have invasive plants in other areas of the yard, such as the driveway or patio so you’ll need to use different approaches. Here are a few suggestions.

1) Mix one quart of vinegar with ¼ pound of salt and two teaspoons of dish soap. Fill a spray bottle with some of this elixir and spray the offending weed liberally. Or, cut down the weed and pour some of this quaff onto whatever is left of the plant. Do this during a dry spell and don’t water the area for a few days. You may have to repeat this process until they disappear.

2) Use boiling water using the same method. I’ve poured boiling water on a nest that red ants had the misfortune of building in my compost heap. After their screams subsided the survivors must have limped over to more hospitable surroundings because they never returned.

3) Sprinkle lime to kill moss.

4) Use a step-on weed-digger and pour a little vinegar into each hole afterward to slow down any root vestige. This tool is a marvellous invention.

Some invasive plants, like giant hogweed, contain a toxin so make sure to wear eye and skin protection if you suspect you have to deal with these plants. Check with the CVRD for their recommendations, or you might want to hire someone else to do it and let them take the risk. If you can’t afford to hire someone, then you’ll have to marry someone who responds appropriately to suggestion. David is taken.

Please contact mary_lowther@yahoo.ca with questions and suggestions since I need all the help I can get.

Just Posted

Kerry Park’s new goalie is perfect in VIJHL debut

Charles-Olivier Lepage shuts out high-powered Storm

Longtime resident and business owner Garry Bruce running for Duncan city council

I have been a resident in the City of Duncan for more than 60 years

Double heartbreak for Cowichan Capitals at BCHL Showcase

Caps edged in OT one night, give up winner with 4.5 seconds left the next day

Alison Nicholson is ‘committed to community’ in bid for re-election to Area E

Mission is to work with you to build community where there is an opportunity for everyone to prosper

Penelakut Tribe threatens legal action on freighters

Lack of consultation cited by Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP MacGregor

VIDEO: Tour de Rock rider says event provides badly needed support

Cancer survivor and volunteer firefighter Nicole Emery speaks about importance of fundraising tour

Rattie scores 3 as Oilers blank Canucks 6-0

Vancouver slips to 1-5 in exhibition play

Veterans Affairs ordered to take second look before supporting vets’ relatives

Liberal government ordered officials to adopt a more critical eye

Dead B.C. motorcyclist was member of group that raced down mountain road

Some group members record their rides on Strathcona Parkway and post times to page

Indigenous athletes in spotlight at BC Sports Hall of Fame

New gallery to feature Carey Price, Kaila Mussel and Richard Peter

B.C. couple who went missing on flight from Edmonton named by family

Family released a statement Wednesday saying they’re still intent on finding the two-seater plane

VIDEO: A close look at what you were breathing during the B.C. wildfire season

Electron microscope images show soot and tar particles generated by worst B.C. fire season

Island man calls 911 after being robbed of his drugs

Nineteen-year-old and 15-year-old suspects face multiple charges following robbery Monday in Nanaimo

B.C. woman donates $250,000 to ovarian cancer research for friends

Two of Patty Pitts’s friends passed away from the disease within a year

Most Read