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Monthly Archives: November 2018

Types of Weeds Grow

One very special characteristics of weeds is that they grow vigorously. They have the ability for rapid growth, sending strong root systems far into the ground and reproduce at a very fast pace. They also have very high survival rate. They crowd out the cultivated plants and rob them of essential nutrients, water, sunlight, and space.

For this reason, weed control and elimination are major lawn care tasks for many landscapers. To get rid of these weeds in your garden or lawn, it greatly helps to know and understand how they grow.

What are common types of weeds and how do they grow?

  1. Chickweed

Chickweed plants are famous travelers and they are very persistent. They are active all year-round. Generally, they love make themselves at home in the tropics and in cold climates. However, even during autumn when most weeds are blackened by frost, they are still fresh and green. Their seeds sprout and their star-shaped flowers open even during winter.

  1. Bindweed

This kind of weed is a close relative of the morning glory. Bindweed plants have the ability to twist their stem around and around until they have climbed to the top of a larger plant.

  1. Poison Ivy

This plant is famous clinging vine with roots growing from its stem. These roots allow them to cling to a stone wall or the bark of a tree.

  1. Dodder

This is the most dangerous kind of weed to have. If left to themselves, they will kill your plants and take over your garden.

Since they have no leaves and lack green coloring matter, they are unable to make their own food. In order to survive, they curl around another plant with their orange-yellow stem and get nourishment from the plant they grow on using their special sucker-like roots.

  1. Creeping weeds

Many types of weeds work underground. Some of them survive even during dry spells because they have long, thick taproots that enable them to get water. This includes dandelions, burdock, evening primrose, and broad-leafed plantain.

Gardening Without Pesticides

The real work came in the spring. Planting, watering new plants, only to plant and water more new plants, was a daily routine. I was sore in places I didn’t know had muscles, but the garden was doing very well. It was green, perfect, and all native.

The bees and butterflies came, but so did everything I had failed to anticipate. My new ‘serious’ garden began to be eaten before my eyes. There were all sorts of native leaf chewers: Aphids, slugs, and caterpillars to name a few. Leaves were mined and skeletonized and fell off. Flowers and buds were being sucked into oblivion.

However, the damage that really hurt my feelings was to the roses. When the Japanese beetles arrived, my roses were denuded of both foliage and flower. That was when I first felt the desperate fury that comes when a gardener is faced with crop failure. Up until now, I wanted nature to do the work. This time I felt like I had to do something.

However, the idea of spraying the roses still repelled me. I simply did not want to have roses that you had to keep out of the reach of children for fear they would ingest them. Therefore, I turned away from that idea and began looking for organic ways to help. There was not much I could do. Picking the beetles off the bushes with my hands and putting them in a bucket of soapy water was the best most had to offer. I got to work.

It did not help. I did not get a single rose that year. At the end of the season, I read that Fall and Winter would be a good time to solicit natural help in the form of birds. I put up a wren house, I put out the bird seed, and I put out water all winter long.

The fate of the Japanese beetles – and every other garden pest – was sealed the day I decided not to spray the roses. Predators had already moved in in numbers! But they weren’t at the right life stage to help. Syrphid flies, many wasps, and other insects are only predators as larva. However, because I didn’t spray, they laid eggs all over the garden.

I got an avian resident. A male house wren stuffed sticks in the wren house and sang until he attracted a female. The females are the ones who choose the nest site, and she chose my garden. In a few weeks, when the days were warming and I was fearing another attack by the pests, she laid seven eggs.

I am no expert on bird fertility, but it wouldn’t make much survival sense for her to be so fertile in the presence of little to no food. It was likely that both these wrens were already present in the garden and their bodies knew how many babies they could afford. Because I didn’t spray, I got to see them diving from the house, straight down into the leaves and running around like little feathery wolves and returning with all manner of caterpillars. They did this every day, all day long, the entire season. The wrens had to have devoured thousands, maybe even tens of thousands of insects.

The syrphid fly larva got to work on the aphids that were attacking my new growth. Centipedes got to work on the snails and slugs, as did the firefly larva who are surprisingly voracious and active hunters for worms. The snails and slugs would later attract garter snakes and a mole and a toad. Robins nested and had three chicks on the curve of my downspout. The wasps returned for the flowers and stayed for the hunting. They made off with plenty of insects, bringing them back to larva to eat. Spiders moved in. There were so many green crab spiders that I called the zinnia flowerbed the “Spider Condominiums”. Every zinnia flower and a spider in it.

There were so many predators that my pest problems vanished. I concluded that my ‘Garden Salad’ had turned into the ‘Garden of Death’. Pests who managed to survive long enough to chew and lay eggs would only have their eggs and larva eaten by something else. The lucky few who did manage to breed were inconsequential.

Gardening without pesticides takes time and, in my case, a crop failure, but I put away the mask and the gloves and the sprayer. Using them would have made things harder for myself, and easier on the pests. I learned that gardens need time to get established to thrive. Pesticides delay or prevent the garden from ever moving on from the “Garden Salad” stage to a healthy population of predator and prey. They are an expensive hindrance and can kill or discourage natural resources that help the garden be self-sustaining.

Start a Compost Heap

Make or buy a bin that will suit your garden. Site it in sun or partial shade and have the base of the heap in contact with the soil. You will need at least two bins or two compartments in a bin to process compost properly. Ideally, you should have three. Don’t keep the compost too close to the house. If you think your bin is unsightly, you can screen it with a trellis or a hedge.

You could opt for a wormery instead, but if you have a bin that processes dog faeces, don’t put the end-product on your vegetable patch or where children play.

The debris from your garden and peelings from your kitchen can be turned into black, crumbly, sweet-smelling compost. The larger your garden the more room you will have for a heap and the more compost it can provide for your beds. If you have a small garden, you might find that sealed, plastic bins are a more attractive option.

The composting process will take about six to twelve months. It is a good idea to mix matter as you put it in. Grass cuttings should never be dumped on top of the heap in a great mass because they will go slimy. Mix some dry matter like shredded newspaper in with them. Allow moisture and air to penetrate the heap. Forking the heap will help with this process.

If a heap has too much dry, woody material, it will not rot down quickly, so you could drench it with water if you haven’t enough green stuff to add in. Never lay on a thick layer of material because you will prevent the circulation of air; when adding matter – little and often is best.

Woody sticks will compost more quickly if you shred them. Don’t put in any that are bigger than the width of a pencil. Small twigs will help to keep air circulating inside the heap.

Perennial weed roots like dandelions or bindweed should never be thrown onto a heap unless they have been ground into tiny pieces because even a thread of root left intact will start to grow a new plant. It might be safer to dispose of these by putting them in with the rubbish. Don’t add diseased plants to the heap either.

Don’t overload the compost with citrus fruit peel or shiny magazines. Don’t put in plastic-coated paper. Never put in bones or cooked food. This will attract rats.

You can, however, add seaweed, straw from animal cages, animal fur from brushes, dust from vacuum cleaners and tiny scraps of wool and felt left over from crafting. Tea bags, coffee grounds and egg shells are all good things to add from the kitchen.

Tree leaves collected off the lawn in the autumn take twice as long as other compost to rot down, so in order to be able to add them in with the rest of the compost, you can mow them up off the lawn and put them onto the heap when they are shredded into tiny pieces. The increased surface area will ensure they rot down more quickly. Leaves don’t carry many nutrients but they do help to improve soil texture. You may choose to compost them separately if you have the room in your garden and a huge bulk of leaves to store.

Woody material and straw will be carbon rich and any green material will be nitrogen rich and a good mix of the two makes the best end-product. Compost can be used to feed plants, re-pot plants or as a weed suppressing mulch.

When a bin is filled up, leave the lid on or cover it with an old piece of carpet. When the top of the heap has stopped sinking, turn all the contents to ensure that everything is broken down and then leave it for a couple of months and it will be ready to use. The easiest way to turn the heap over is to shovel the compost from one bin into the one next to it. Have another bin to start filling up while you are waiting for the closed-off heap to mature.

If you are lucky enough to have three bins, start your first heap in the centre one. While it is covered start the next heap in an end bin and when the central heap is ready for turning it can go into the empty bin next to it. By the time the second heap is ready to be closed off the first will be ready for use so that bin can be emptied out and you will have room to continue the process.

Plant in Clay Soil

Planting in clay soil is great for the vegetation that have roots strong enough to break through the hardened ground and compacted clay. Amending an area to make suitable for gardening other types of vegetation is doable. The main idea to remember is to amend an entire area NOT just a single hole for the desired plant to root.

Why is it important to improve the soil structure in an entire area rather a single location? If a gardener focuses on a single location once the plant roots it will grow root length only as far and wide as the hole that was amended. Once the roots reach the soil that is clay the roots will grow inward as they are unable to penetrate through the unforgiving clay soil. The plant may survive, but it will be severely root bound.

Checking soil quality is very important, drainage of the soil is imperative. I also researched a multitude of opinions on the best practices of checking soil quality, and the one common factor each opinion offered is to check more than one or two locations in the ground. Some locations of your yard may require different types or amounts of amendments making it even more important to check the soil’s texture in multiple locations. Dig a hole one foot deep fill it with water wait for it to drain, refill to the top, and time how long it takes to empty.

Proper drainage of the soil helps plant growth. If the water drains to slowly you more than likely have clay, but if it drains to rapidly, It will not be able to retain water or plant nutrients for healthy plant growth. In soil where the water drainage is faster than cup and hour the soils may have too much sand. In cases of clay soil with poor drainage mixing builder’s sand or compost (annually) will improve soil quality.

Adding organic amendments to the soil lightens soil texture, discourages compacting clay, adds nutrients, improves drainage and aeration, and moderates soil temperature, and provides pore space. Amend clay soil with organic matter, decomposed organic matter, (if you can tell what it is it is not decomposed enough) by working the compost into the soil.

Using undecomposed organic matter such as wood chips or mulch are great for on top of the soil, but should not be worked into the clay soil during the growing season. the reason it is not suggested during growing season, the undecomposed matter will continue its decomposition and rob the soil of further nitrogen to aid in its process. Sometimes it is referred to as a work in progress when using material that has not fully reach compost.