The first week in July I got the last of my potted dahlias in the ground, a job I usually complete - OK, try to complete - by the end of May at the latest. I've been running a tad behind. And though I had stayed on top of weeds in some areas, others had been long neglected.Do you have any idea how embarrassing it is to have a six foot lambs quarters growing in the back of the border? I didn't even know lambs quarters could grow that tall. Now I do. Procrastination as a learning tool.
With appropriate neglect, wood sorrel grows into a small shrub. You know wood sorrel; it's that sour/good weed that has yellow flowers, if you neglect it long enough, and leaves a bit like clover. It's actually an oxalis. As weeds go, I like sorrel. It comes out easily with a satisfying pop, and it's tasty in salads.
Pulling is one way to get rid of weeds, particularly the big ones. There are two other ways - cultivating and spraying.
Believe it or not, I like weeding. It feels good to go into an area that looks like a vacant lot and make it tidy. But unless you really like pulling weeds - I mean REALLY - and want to pull the same weed four or five times over the summer, be sure to get the root. To get the root, grab weeds close to the ground, pulling them one at a time.
Grabbing a whole bunch of weeds will give you a handful of weed tops.
Many weeds, like the sorrel and lambs quarters and smartweed, let you pop the weed as easily as a cork from a wine bottle. No, easier than a cork from a wine bottle. I've had some problems there, usually with several people watching. Other weeds are not quite so accommodating.
For weeds that cling tenaciously to their roots, you need to loosen the soil. That's what cultivating is. If you have a patch of inch high grassy weeds, the easiest way to do it is to shove a spading fork under the top three inches of soil, lift it, and drop it. Then pick all those little green sprouts out.
It is an immutable law of nature that if you carefully transplant a seedling, put it in just the right spot in just the right soil, water and feed and coddle it, it will die. But if you yank a bunch of weeds out of the ground, cultivate the soil, pick out most of the sprouts, but leave just one with just a hair of a root - battered and abandoned in parched ground - it will grow back strong and healthy in three days.
Where the weedy green is dots rather than blankets on the ground, a one prong cultivator is best for the job, not those three prong claw-like things. There are several variations on the market, some with a prong, some with a small hoe-like blade. Take your pick.
These are used horizontally to deal with smaller weeds. One swipe knocks out a swath of weeds. A claw type just makes neat little rows of weeds. Also, the prong style is handy when you run into something with a tap root like dandelions. Just turn the tool ninety degrees and you have a small pick to go down after the root.
You will notice that I have not mentioned a hoe. Nor do I intend to. A hoe is for large areas. My philosophy is that there are no large weedy areas, just small weedy areas that might happen to be next to each other.
Anything too big for a hand tool calls for a sprayer. But be careful - there are two kinds of weed killer. One kills broadleaf weeds like dandelions and clover but leaves grass and grassy weeds alone. The other, principally RoundUp, kills every green plant it touches.
Sprays are handy for fence lines, sidewalk cracks, driveways and such. Or for garden areas that have gotten totally out of control. Not that I would have anything like that, of course.
I don't know how long it will take me to catch up, but I'm not worried about it. The parts I don't quite get to, the snow will hide.