Steele: Welcome rainfall encourages both plants and weeds

It’s a perfect time to top up mulch to conserve the rainfall moisture and delay having to irrigate water-thirsty plants.

I spent a joyful long weekend gardening in the cooler weather. My soil was dry so I was delighted with the rainfall Tuesday.

Now the ground is well soaked, so it’s perfect to top up areas that need more mulch. I can conserve the rainfall moisture and delay having to irrigate water-thirsty plants like vegetables.

After the rain, a new crop of weeds is flourishing.

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

Anyone with rock mulch, in place for a year or longer, will have a more difficult time. It’s hard to weed among the rocks.

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. It’s 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.

Field bindweed (morning glory weed) is just beginning 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.

Siberian elms are dropping 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 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 identification.

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.

Now is the time when a rain gauge on automatic sprinkler systems would have shut off the irrigation. If you don’t have one, consider getting one to reduce unnecessary watering which encourages weed growth.

***

Saturday, June 1, there will be a Heritage Festival for the whole community at St. Michael’s Cathedral, 608 Sutherland Ave., to celebrate it’s centennial.

The historical stone church is surrounded by beautiful new water-wise gardens.

For more information about the festival and musical events on May 26 and 31 check www.stmichaelscathedral.ca.

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