Connecticut Garden Journal: Preventing Annual Weeds | Connecticut Public Radio

Connecticut Garden Journal: Preventing Annual Weeds

Jun 27, 2019

Ben Franklin once said, “A man of words and not of deeds, is like a garden full of weeds.” Yes, with all the rain, annual weeds are having a hay day!

So, let's talk about some annual weeds. I'll tackle perennial weeds, such as dandelion, Japanese knot weed and horsetail, another time. Annual weeds self-sow from last summer and are germinating all over your garden. Some of the main culprits are lamb's quarters, pigweed, chickweed, purslane, and shepherd's purse.

First of all, all the weeds I just mentioned, are edible. Identify them correctly and try them in salads, soups and stir fries. They're more nutritious, with a stronger taste, than just plain old lettuce. But even I can't eat all the wild greens, so here's some simple ways to control them before you to throw in the hoe and head for the beach.

The first defense is prevention. There are thousands of weed seeds in the soil. Every time you turn the soil you bring more seeds to the surface to germinate. So, try no dig gardening where you don't turn the soil, but add compost on beds each spring. Then hoe smartly. Using a small bladed hoe, such as a stirrup hoe, gently cut young weeds as they germinate at the soil line. Avoid deep hoeing. Weed this way frequently to catch weeds before they get big.

After weeding, mulch with straw, chopped leaves, burlap bags or untreated grass clippings. This will prevent more weeds from germinating. Control annual weeds on patios or along walkways with commercial products containing citrus and clove oil. Reapply for tough weeds.