By The Old House Web


There is no other season in which the home garden flourishes as beautifully as in the summertime. Yet while the garden is at its height of bloom, it is also susceptible to summer garden problems capable of halting the growth of those plants in the garden. Two of the problems faced in summer are drought and weed control.

The elimination of weeds will help to reduce drought severity. The addition of mulch is helpful in that it serves to conserve moisture while smothering the weeds. If drought is especially severe, it may be necessary to thin the plants to recommended spacings or even farther apart if space permits. The addition of water may be done efficiently by trickle irrigation or similar methods that wet only the plants and not the areas between rows. The key to controlling weeds is to start early, when the weeds are small. A light, sharp hoe or wheel hoe will quickly and easily kill young weeds by just scraping the soil surface. Small weeds in a row can be easily smothered by hilling up around flower and vegetable plants when these plants are significantly taller than the weeds. Grassy weeds can easily be covered up in rows of beans, corn, onions, potatoes, etc.. In addition, the lawn mower can be used to mow off those taller weeds which usually develop after a rain. If the rows are spaced widely enough apart, it may be possible to run lawn mower between them, with the motor running slowly. The mower blade may need to be raised to avoid dirt clods and stones.

Weeding methods are best done in the morning of a hot, dry, sunny day, as this weather aids in weed killing. Hand pulling is best done shortly after a rain; allow for some drying of the soil so it is not compacted when weeding. After pulling, shake the roots to remove as much soil as possible and place the weeds upside down to expose the roots to the sun and air. Weeds that have already developed seeds should be placed in a compost pile where the heat may kill the seeds or removed and the seed heads destroyed. Lamb's-quarters and purslane are edible and can be used in salads.

SOURCE: Hortopics: 7/80. Lee Taylor Michigan State University

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