Sophia and Natalie DeMarco weeding at Hope Lutheran Church’s Hope Garden, which grows food for local food banks. (File photo)

Sophia and Natalie DeMarco weeding at Hope Lutheran Church’s Hope Garden, which grows food for local food banks. (File photo)

A Gardener’s Diary: combatting weeds

Preventative and early intervention best way to stay ahead of weeds

Time goes so fast that you don’t notice the weeds creeping up in the garden. The lack of rain doesn’t bother them a bit.

Even in the areas that are not watered, they can survive without difficulty. This column is taken from www.almanac.com, which you can view for a lot more information.

What is a weed? Here are definitions from the Weed Science Society of America:

Weed: “A plant that causes economic losses or ecological damages, creates health problems for humans or animals or is undesirable where it is growing.”

Noxious Weed: “Any plant designated by federal, state or local government officials as injurious to public health, agriculture, recreation, wildlife or property. Once a weed is classified as noxious authorities can implement quarantines and take other actions to contain or destroy the weed and limit its spread.” For example, Field Bindweed is considered a noxious weed.

Invasive Weed: “Weeds that establish, persist and spread widely in natural ecosystems outside the plant’s native range. When in a foreign environment, these invaders often lack natural enemies to curtail their growth, which allows them to overrun native plants and ecosystems.”

Weeds are not all bad. Many weeds stabilize the soil and add organic matter. Some are edible to humans and provide habitat and food for wildlife, too.

Field bindweed is a hardy perennial vine considered a noxious weed. Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) is not the same as the ornamental annual morning-glory (in the genus Ipomea) which has a larger and more showy flower that can be white to blue or purple or pink.

How to Control Bindweed

Unfortunately, tilling and cultivation seems to aid bindweed spread. Fragments of vertical roots and rhizomes as short as two inches (five cm) can form new plants. Field bindweed also is very drought tolerant and once established is difficult to control even with herbicides.

The best control is, as with most weeds, prevention or early intervention. Seedlings of field bindweed must be removed when they’re young – about three to four weeks after germination.

After that, perennial buds are formed, and successful control is much more difficult.

Bindweed can grow through many mulches so you need to use landscape fabrics such as polypropylene and polyester or mulches such as black plastic or cardboard but also ensure that the edges of the covering overlap so that the bindweed stems can’t find their way into the light. If holes are made in the fabric or plastic for plants, bindweed will grow through these holes. A landscape fabric placed over soil then covered with bark or other plant-derived product (e.g., organic matter) or rock will likely keep field bindweed from emerging. It might take more than three years of light exclusion before the bindweed dies. Once landscape fabric or other mulch is removed, new bindweed plants might germinate from seed in the soil; be sure to monitor the site for new seedlings. All parts of the bindweed plant are poisonous. Do not ingest.

I have a bindweed lawn and see it all over when walking the dog. I remove the flowers as soon as seen.

For more information: call 250-558-4556; email jocelynesewell@gmail.com.

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