Gwen Steele Canada 150 tulips bloom beside stepping stone path. The path makes it easier to enjoy plants up close and to maintain the garden when soil is wet.

Steele: Wet weather weeding

The good news is it’s easier to pull them out now. It’s important not to walk on wet soil

Plants seem to be growing by inches every day in the very moist soil from frequent, heavy rainfall.

However the weeds are growing even faster. The good news is that it’s easier to pull them out now. It’s important not to walk on wet soil as this will compact it.

If you have to step into the garden to reach weeds, you can spread your weight by using two or three 18” square pieces of plywood to stand on.

If this is an ongoing issue, consider making a mulched or stepping stone path through the garden. If you haven’t mulched your garden beds, now is a good time. It’s important to have the soil moist before mulching and all weeds removed.

For xeriscape gardeners who have their soil well-covered with mulch already, weeding will be minimal.

Anyone with rock mulch will have a more difficult time. It’s hard to weed amongst rocks. The only rock mulch I have found easy to weed out of is screened crusher chips or pea gravel. They both act like soil.

It’s very important to pull weeds before they go to seed to prevent further spread. Put weeds with invasive roots such as quack grass into the yard waste along with any weeds that have flowered or gone to seed.

Home composts are not hot enough to kill these. Cheatgrass, also known as spear grass is blooming now.

This year it has invaded everywhere but is very easy to pull out. I encourage you to do this before it seeds as it’s hazardous to pets. Dry seed-heads lodge in paws, noses and ear canals leading to vet bills.

Field bindweed (morning glory weed) is about to bloom. Try to keep the flower heads cut off to prevent seeding while working on eradicating its tremendous root system.

Dig out new plants as soon as you see them. This is the nightmare weed of the Okanagan.

Very soon Siberian elms will drop millions of seeds—cream disks the size of a dime. They are very drought tolerant and quickly grow long roots making them hard to remove from cracks in the sidewalk, in a hedge or in your favourite shrub. Cutting them off only encourages sprouting so dig them out when tiny.

To help identify your weeds check www.weedsbc.ca. Any avid gardener will also be able to help with weed ID.

A safe, homemade weed spray can be made from full strength vinegar, a pinch of salt and a small squirt of dish soap.

Spray on weeds the morning of a hot, sunny day. The vinegar, salt and sun desiccate weeds. Soap keeps the solution on the leaves. It only works in the sun and is more effective when weeds are small.

For tap-rooted weeds such as thistle and burdock, cut the plant off at the ground and pour the solution onto the root.

Gwen Steele is executive-director of the non-profit Okanagan Xeriscape Association.