Whopping weeds in the fall


As September turns to October and the trees color, it’s time to ready the garden for winter.

The top chore is cleaning up weeds. Let one weed mature this time of year and you are asking for tens or hundreds of offspring next season.

Where to put them

If your weeds have seed heads on them do not place them in the compost heap. The seed heads can mature even though the plant is no longer in the soil drawing moisture and nutrients.

Remember, if you burn your yard refuse, do it in the middle of the day so that the fire is out before evening. Cool temperatures tend to keep the smoke close to the ground. Your neighbors will appreciate your consideration.

Spraying with a herbicide

If you have perennial weeds or grasses, now is the right time to spray them. The plants’ roots are taking up carbohydrates to store for winter survival. If you spray now, the plant will translocate the chemical into the roots where it will kill the plant.

General rule of thumb is to spray when the temperatures are above 50? F. And do spray on a day when there will be no precipitation for six to eight hours.

Don’t premix the herbicide the day before. Roundup, Poast and 2-4-D are acidic based herbicides and our water has a high alkaline rate that negates the product if given time.

Granular herbicides

If you have beds with shrubs and/or trees that have been planted for longer than six-months, you can put down the granular herbicide Casaron. The ground does not have to be weed or grass free to use this product in the fall. As quackgrass and weeds die down over the winter, this product will create a barrier and prevent them from sprouting next spring. Casaron is also a good choice to control butterbur.

What is a weed?

Remember that a weed is any plant growing where you don’t want it. This may mean a plant you purchased and has turned into a thug.

I have an obedient plant, Physostegia, which has taken over a flowerbed. A member of the mint family, you might assume that it was unruly. A Master Gardener told me that I didn’t want to plant it because of its ‘taking’ ways and I should have listened. I read about the plant in half a dozen books and thought it sounded great.

This is the fourth year I have tried digging it out of the flowerbed in the fall. Not only have I loosened the soil with shovel and pulled the plant out, this year I am taking a turning fork to lift and sift out hundreds of roots.

The root on this plant is a questing monster like quackgrass, only larger and more brittle. I also now think it is reseeding itself. This unbeatable combination creates a gardening headache.

My final attack is to cut down ‘wanted’ perennials and then spray with 2 4-D, in the hopes of conquering it. Personally, I would not have any form of this plant near my garden, even though you may read rave reviews of a white variety, named Miss Manners. Plant it in a controlled environment before turning loose in the garden if you must try it.