Even though many plants got off to a slow start this spring due to the rain and cool weather, the weeds are on time. The weeds I write about don’t need a picture next to them because the descriptions will be enough.
Quackgrass is among the first weeds that appear in the spring and although it goes by several different names, it still looks like grass. We receive several calls each spring about starting berry, asparagus, rhubarb, and other perennial patches. We always recommend the first thing is to rid the site of all weeds, especially quackgrass. If you don’t get rid of them before you plant, you will have them to deal with for the life of the patch. The only way to get rid of quackgrass in the garden is to dig or pull it out. Be sure you remove all the roots or rhizomes or it will continue to spread. You can’t cut them off, till them, mulch or cover them, as they will continue to grow. The best way to remove them is early spring or after a heavy rain.
By the time you think you have the quackgrass under control, you will be dealing with crabgrass. It is also known as purple crabgrass, finger-grass, pigeon grass and crowfoot because when it goes to seed it has finger-like branches that look like a crow’s foot. Crabgrass is an annual that shows up in late June and is killed off by the first frost. It’s much easier to control than quackgrass if tended to early because it spreads above the ground much like strawberry runners.
Barnyard grass is a common weed for gardens, and is ranked among the worst weeds in the world because it consumes up to 80 percent of the available soil nitrogen in its area in a single growing season. It is a serious problem in row crops like beets, potatoes and corn. It is easily identified by its small tuffs or clumps of short grass. The ripe seeds, or spikelets, contain thousands of seeds each.
A very serious weed that may go unnoticed until it is established is field bindweed. There are many other names, but small-flowered morning glory is the most often used. Gardeners will have no problem recognizing it because it winds around everything close to it and the flowers look like miniature morning glories. They seed the area around them and can become a major problem if not controlled.
Another weed that can cause a lot of trouble in places where they are not cultivated is cleavers weed that is well named. The weed is also called catch weed, scratch weed, or grip weed. It will hang on your gloves, clothing, and even your bare skin. The stem and bristly hairs help the plant cling, hang on and grow onto the vegetation near it. If it gets into your raspberry patch, grape vines, and even blueberries, it can cause real problems at harvest time.
I haven’t mentioned any herbicides for a reason — if you can spot spray without hurting the plant or fruit, that’s up to you. I chose not to use herbicides for this purpose.