Gardening where the sidewalk ends

The Wacky World of Western Weeds August 30, 2008

Practicing organic gardening is rewarding in so many ways. One kind of onerous task that can be therapeutic is the act of hand-weeding. I know some folks go for the corn gluten (does it really work? I’ve heard mixed things) or the pyromaniac’s dream tool, the propane torch weed killer. The best thing for my parking strip would probably be more perennial plants and ground covers, in order to provide less space for the weeds, and I hope to get more in every year. But in the meantime, I just have to count on my trusty trowel and do the best I can. Here are some of the fun varieties I contend with on a regular basis: quack grass, herb-Robert, bindweed (especially evil and hard to eradicate), Japanese clover, sorrel, and a bunch of dandelion-like weeds, not to mention the evil St. Johns Wort I yanked out of the parking strip three years ago that keeps trying to come back, the various lawns the previous owner took out even longer ago that want very badly to return, and all the other pesky ones I don’t know the names of. Phew, that was a very long sentence.

I know California poppy is considered by some to be a weed, but it’s a nice place-holder in the parking strip until the later-spring plants fill in.

(This imagine is taken from the National Parks Service site)

(This imagine is taken from the National Parks Service site)

The New York Times magazine had this interesting (and frightening) article about how global warming makes weeds stronger. They will probably be the last things standing, along with the cockroaches.

The State of Washington has a web site devoted to its “noxious weed” list, with photos of nearly all the nasty varmints. Some look quite pretty, but are invasive and crowd out native and threatened plant varieties.

If you live in the Western US or Canada, this book is pretty amazing, even at $30. Maybe your local library can get it for you as an inter-library loan, if you don’t want to spend that much.

What are your weed nemeses? How do you control them, especially organically?


5 Responses to “The Wacky World of Western Weeds”

  1. PGL Says:

    What an interesting article, thanks for the links. I have sorrel, dandelions, and various types of grass to contend with in my garden. I just keep on pulling. 🙂

  2. Philip Says:

    There are weeds here in San Francisco that we have not seen before. There is one which only seemed to arrive a year or so ago.
    I love California Poppies. I have them in my garden, and I am happy when they volunteer seedlings!

  3. Megan Says:

    That bindweed is a real pain, it’s so persistent. I think I’m slowly winning the war, but it’s been going on for years. I always forget about the propane torch, I should try that o the blackberries when their roots are hard to get at.

  4. […] herb robert, invasive, king county, Seattle, stinky bob, weed, weeds, western washington In a previous post about weeds, I mentioned one called Herb Robert, or Geranium robertianum. I feel a little sorry for whichever […]

  5. greenwalks Says:

    PGL –

    Oh, my mom has sorrel and she says it’s so hard to get rid of! Good luck, yes, just have to keep on pulling.


    Philip –

    That’s kind of freaky that there are new weeds showing up. They are so opportunistic! I love poppies too, they remind me of California (duh).


    Megan –

    Glad you are beating back the bindweed. I have my yearly summer battle with it and then we rest over the winter to start anew in the spring. I will probably never win, but I can try!

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