The war on garden weeds

My article on a war on weeds seemed quite popular, probably because of the ample rain we received this spring. One of the first weeds to appear in the garden in the spring is quack grass.
Also known as couch grass, it is a cool-season perennial that easily survives frigid winters and drought. It spreads by seed and rhizomes (which are underground roots). These rhizomes produce buds that sprout into new plants. It has rings of root hairs every one-fourth to one inch along its long white rhizomes about four inches below the ground. The best way to control them is to pull or dig the plants up and be sure to get all of the rhizomes or you will start all over again.
Just about the time you think you’ve got the quack grass under control here comes crabgrass. It comes along about the first of July and is often killed by the first frost, however in between this those times it can be a real problem. If you can pull it up while young, it is quite easy to control, but like most weeds can be a problem if it gets away from you. Unlike the rhizomes of quack grass, crabgrass spreads above ground like strawberry plants do. If you can pull the runner before they get established you will still have lots of work later.
Another weed that thrives well in July and August is the common purslane. This weed is easily recognized by its small fleshy leaves, which are green on top and violet covered beneath. The weed looks like a house plant that is low to the ground unless it gets away from you. Purslane is very drought resistant and when the roots are exposed to the sun it may take days for them to die.
Purslane was introduced from southern Europe and Northern Africa as a garden plant. It came to the United States in the late seventeenth century and has been used as a garden salad green in some countries. If this is true, I have enough salad to supply a third world country. The only way to control this weed is to pull it out and remove it or use a heavy mulch.
The reason I haven’t mentioned using herbicides to control any of these weeds is because I never use herbicides in my garden.
The Chisago County Master Gardeners will be at the Almelund Threshing Show August 7th, 8th and 9th. Come visit us at our pioneer home on the east end of the Threshing Grounds. We will have informative displays and we are anxious to answer your gardening questions. For more information on the Threshing Show, visit their website at

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