The Middlebury Landscape

Early Spring Work

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tim Parsons at 7:03 pm on Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Any good gardener knows this is the best time of year for working. It’s cold, only about 50 degrees, the wind is strong, and the ground is wet and very cold, but who cares? 50 feels a lot warmer in the spring than it does in the fall. And besides, this is the finest weeding of the year.

There are two kinds of weeds gardeners face, annual and perennial. If you don’t know, perennial weeds are the ones that come back year after year, from their roots. LIke, say, quackgrass or dandelion. Annual weeds are the ones that come back year after year just from their seeds, the plants die every year. Crabgrass is like this-crabgrass control in lawn fertilizers is nothing more than a chemical that prevents seed germination (A hysterical mistake I’ve heard someone making from my garden center days was fertilizing their lawn seed they just put down with a crabgrass preventitive fertilizer).

If you’re working in the garden now, you won’t be doing much for annual weed control, except maybe making it worse, by stirring up the soil. (Dormant seeds down in the ground coming to the light may sprout) But the perennial weeding is amazing. This early in the spring, the perennial weeds aren’t activly growing yet, as the ground is too cold. Many of the fine roots have died over the winter, and the weeds are sprouting green from stored energy in the main fleshy roots. So, without those fine roots, the weeds pull considerably easier in the wet ground. The finest weeding I’ve ever done in my life was in a January thaw. I can remember pulling a quackgrass root 12′ long out of the ground. I almost framed it.

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