Volume 14, Issue 4 ~ January 26 - February 1, 2006

The Bay Gardener

By Dr. Frank Gouin

Weed Your Garden Now

You won’t work enough to even break a sweat

Winter is a great time to dig out weeds before they grow into large clumps. Such weeds as chickweed, henbit, ground ivy and annual bluegrass are tiny now and can easily be scratched out of the ground with a hoe.

Chickweed has lush, light-green foliage with leaves that resemble the ears of a mouse. Henbit has a round leaf the size of a quarter with a scalloped edge. Ground ivy has foliage similar to henbit, but it has a very pungent odor. Annual bluegrass is pale green in color despite its name and grows in small clumps one to two inches tall.

If allowed to grow until April or May, these weeds can achieve the size of a dinner plate and will be difficult to remove.

Another nice thing about hoeing weeds this time of year is that you will never develop a sweat doing it.

It does not matter if the ground is frozen. All you need is to separate the top of the weed from its roots. This means that you will disturb the soil little if at all. Pushing and pulling the hoe back and forth in rapid motion while holding the handle at about a 30-degree angle will do sufficient damage to the weeds to drastically reduce the spring population.

While winter weeding, however, don’t step on the decapitated weeds, and make certain to rake up what you have cut. Winter weeds will root easily; if allowed to lay on the ground, they will develop new roots and resume growth by spring. Rake up the weeds and add them to the compost pile.

The hoe that I prefer for hand weeding is called Weed Bandit. It comes in three sizes: small, one and one-half inches wide; medium, three inches wide; and large, six inches wide. What makes the Weed Bandit special is that the blades are serrated, corrugated and made of stainless steel. They stay sharp for a long time and come with a long rake handle, making them comfortable to use. I use mostly the medium size Weed Bandit for general weeding and the small Weed Bandit for hoeing between onions during summer months. They are available at www.weedbandit.com.

Ask Dr. Gouin your questions at [email protected]. All questions will appear in Bay Weekly. Please include your name and address.

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