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Welcome to my zone 9a habitat garden near Houston, Texas.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Weeds

Spring is weed season in my garden. Well, if I'm really truthful I would have to admit that every season is weed season in my garden. I do have a lot of weeds.

But during spring, all those weeds that have been at least a little bit discouraged by winter cold are suddenly back with a vengeance. I spend a day pulling weeds and feel really good about what I've accomplished. Then, looking around two days later, it's hard to tell I did anything.

There are several really pernicious weeds that I have to deal with and although I occasionally win a battle against them, the war continues.


I've been taking major hostile actions against this weed for more than a month now. This is henbit. It infests many of the beds in my veggie/herb garden. I pull it out by the roots wherever I find it. Fortunately, it is pretty easy to pull, but to completely eradicate it, I need to pull every single sprig of the stuff before it reseeds itself to carry on another generation, and I always fail in that effort. Some will escape my notice and so the plant perpetuates itself and the war goes on.


I don't know the name of this plant. (A reader tells me it is Carolina geranium - which seems right to me.) It's just as pernicious and hard to get rid of as the henbit and it grows in some of the same places, as well as in many of my perennial beds. It, too, is fairly easy to pull, and that's the way I deal with it, but I have every reason to believe that this army of invasion will still be marching around my yard long after I'm gone from it.



This is "sticky weed," sometimes called "sticky Willy" as well as many other names, some of them very, very bad indeed. It grows rapidly and can overrun a bed in just a few days if it is overlooked. Its most annoying characteristic is its stickiness. It sticks to everything - Muck boots, garden gloves, skin, clothes, tools. Basically, it will stick to anything that it touches and attempt to hitch a ride. Many times, I've finished my garden chores and gone inside to sit on a chair of sofa, only to find when I stand up that the sticky weed that was hitching a ride on my butt is now attached to my chair. This weed, too, is easily pulled. Just be sure to wear gloves and then good luck on extracting weed from gloves.


This is the worst of the lot, a truly dangerous weed, and, again, I don't know its name. I just call it "stingeroo." (A helpful reader says it is called stinging nettle.) If you see it, DON'T TOUCH IT! Don't let it graze your skin anywhere. It stings like fire, much worse (for me) than fire ants. It may be that I am just excessively sensitive to it, but it has caused me not a few sleepless nights because it touched my feet or ankles and set them on fire. For this weed, I deploy the "nuclear option." I use an herbicide, either Round-up or a homemade mixture with vinegar. It can be easily pulled (wearing leather gauntlets), but with my sensitivity to it, I just prefer not to get close for any reason.



The little yellow flowers and beginnings of tiny red berries belong to mock strawberry. It's actually a pretty little weed and grows in several patches of my so-called lawn. In many places, like in this picture, it is thicker than the grass. When it is in the lawn, I just leave it. When it gets into my perennial planting beds, I pull it when it's obtrusive, but, on the whole, I find this weed to be benign and I practice my live and let live philosophy with it.



This is a weed that is famous in song and Southern folklore. It is 'poke sallet'. Remember "Poke Salad Annie"? You're probably too young, but that was actually the name of a popular song many years ago about a girl named Annie who ate poke sallet. It is not exactly a gourmet dish, but in many poverty-stricken areas of the South, especially during the Great Depression, people used the leaves of this plant as greens. Eating them was an adventure because if they were not prepared properly, they could be toxic. From the tender shoots that you see in the picture, this plant grows rapidly into a rangy shrubby plant that has masses of white blooms and, in the fall, it produces blue-black berries that the birds - especially mockingbirds - go absolutely wild for. I have this clump of the stuff near my back fence. It's in nobody's way there and I leave it alone for love of the birds. The more formal name of the plant is pokeweed.

These are only a few of the weeds that are doing their best to overrun my garden in this new season, and the war is on. As some famous gardener once said (or should have), "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty from weeds!"

4 comments:

  1. carolina geranium and stinging nettle are the two you want to identify in the photos.

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  2. I realize this blog is a few years old, but did you ever find more information about the stinging nettle? I am overrun with it and when I searched images for stinging nettle, most of what comes up is a little different. When I added "Houston" to the search your photo showed up and it is exactly what is plaguing my garden. For years I have pulled what I could and sprayed the rest but it is still growing abundantly. Did you ever win your war with it?

    ReplyDelete
  3. I realize this blog is a few years old, but did you ever find more information about the stinging nettle? I am overrun with it and when I searched images for stinging nettle, most of what comes up is a little different. When I added "Houston" to the search your photo showed up and it is exactly what is plaguing my garden. For years I have pulled what I could and sprayed the rest but it is still growing abundantly. Did you ever win your war with it?

    ReplyDelete