Text and photos ©Nancy J. Ondra
When I saw that Dave at The Home Garden was hosting Worst Weed Wednesday, I knew I had to take part. This has been the worst year for weeds of all kinds (or I suppose, the best year, if you are a weed), due to our unusually moist summer, I guess. Usually, I can do one thorough weeding in spring, set out my annuals, and then let all the good stuff fill in. This year, the perennials grew all right, but the annuals just sat there, letting weeds get a roothold around them. Even worse than the weeds in the gardens is the carpet of weeds in the pathways. Trying to keep my bark-mulched paths clear has been an on-going battle this summer, and I think I’m losing.
One of the front garden pathways in early June, after the usual spring weeding:
The same path yesterday:
Well, it’s not all bad. Some of these weeds are actually good things. The middle path in the front garden is currently mostly ironweed (Vernonia) seedlings, which I could line out in a holding bed and grow on for the meadow. If I had any unweedy holding beds, that is.
There are lots of other “weeds” that would be all right in moderation. Bronze fennel (Foeniculum vulgare ‘Purpureum’):
Plumed celosias (Celosia):
Golden lemon balm (Melissa officinalis ‘All Gold’):
Pink knotweed (Persicaria capitata):
And the variegated strawberries (Fragaria x ananassa ‘Variegata’) that crept out of their crowded bed to spread freely in the wide-open pathway, along with some larkspur and lettuce seedlings:
Some “real” weeds aren’t all that horrible, within reason. Crown vetch (Coronilla varia) is a quick spreader, but at least it had the decency to mingle prettily with other pink partners:
Teasel (Dipsacus) has been around since the garden began, when I unknowingly sowed it as part of a seed blend that was described as an “English cottage garden mix.” The other plants have long since grown, bloomed, and disappeared, but I have a feeling that the teasels will always be here.
But as you might have guessed by my lead photo, there is one clear candidate for my current “worst weed”: white clover (Trifolium repens). I know why there’s a patch out by the barn: the seed came in when I got a load of clover-laced grass hay two winters ago. The boys loved that batch of hay, but it has created my most troublesome weed problem. When I spread their manure on the garden the following year, I had to deal with solid clover everywhere I used it.
I realize that white clover can be a good soil-improving groundcover, but it really isn’t working for me here. It’s not a good look for the ornamental borders, and it’s spreading way too aggressively to be tolerated in the bark paths out back. Thank goodness the veggies are up in the raised beds, but the clover is even creeping up the sides and into those areas.
Dave asked us to share our control tips for our worst weed(s). I wish I had some. Mom bought me a flame weeder, but I’m too chicken to use it. I may break down and try an organic herbicide, but then I’d have to protect the ornamentals and veggies from the drift. I’ve already broken the blades of two hand weeders on this stuff, but for now, I think it’s my only option. Lots and lots of hand weeding. Wish me luck! And then go to Dave’s site and check out the other Worst Weed Wednesday posts at The Home Garden.