view counter

 

Your guide to Chesaeake Country's freshest produce and more!

Winter Doesn’t Stop Weeds

Stop them now and save yourself extra work come spring

Have you looked at your garden lately? When you do, don’t be surprised if you see chickweed, henbit, annual bluegrass, cranesbill, etc. starting to create a green carpet. Those weeds are pretty small now, but if you don’t get out there and control them, they will be much larger next spring.
    Winter annual weeds tend to sneak up on you. It takes more than hoeing to bring them under control. If you simply hoe them out of the ground and leave them there, they will soon generate new roots and resume growth. If you are going to hoe them, rake them up and dispose of them in your compost.
    Adding weeds to your compost provides it with much needed nitrogen. The weeds are also succulent and full of water, and the little bit of soil attached to the roots will provide much-needed inoculum to help in degrading the leaves. You need not worry about winter weeds contaminating your compost pile with seeds because these weeds are still in their juvenile form and have not even started flowering, which is necessary for them to produce seeds.

  Put Those Leaves to Work  

    If you are looking for something else to do in the garden, how about mulching with a thick layer of leaves? After I fill my compost bins with leaves, I spread the rest under my shrubs and over the garden.
    If you have a blower or a lawn mower, you can minimize raking and reduce your need to buy mulch next spring simply by starting in the middle of the lawn and blowing the leaves so that most of them collect under the shrubs.
    Leaves make a great mulch, and it is nearly impossible to apply too much. It takes a bushel of leaves to make a cup of leaf compost.

    If you prefer not having to disturb the soil, these weeds are very sensitive to horticultural vinegar. However, you have to make certain that you thoroughly spray the foliage to obtain good results. Chickweed takes repeated applications because its foliage is very dense with many overlapping leaves. The first application of horticultural vinegar will only kill the exposed leaves. Make a second application after the first layer of leaves has disintegrated.
    Winter weeds will grow all winter long. They can even grow under snow cover. Trying to kill them with organic mulches is a waste of time. I have seen these weeds grow under the cover of mulch. It is surprising how little light they need for survival. However, covering them with black plastic or tar paper is effective. Avoid black landscape fabric; it has sufficient pin holes to allow them to continue growing.
    Get a jump on spring gardening by controlling winter weeds now.