Tag Archives: weeds

Even the war on weeds is early this year

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This spring has been so warm, everything has come up and flowered at least two weeks early. You want to know what else came up two weeks early? The weeds! Black Swallow-wort, specifically. This is the weed I regard as pure evil. This is the weed that, left unchecked, fills hillsides with choking vines. This is the weed I wage war on every year. Just like last year, a few shoots turn up here, there, and within a couple days, everywhere.

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Last assault on the weeds

Black swallowort trying to swallow a tree

The evil Black  Swallow-wort thinks it’s so clever, dying down and hiding under the fallen leaves.  Too bad for the weed it forgot that leaves falling would reveal where it’s trying to reach up into the crab apple trees and drag them down.  So I plunged into the fray one last time, wielding my deadly digging tool. I traced the worst of the evil-doers down to their roots and dug them up.

And with that, it’s the end of the fighting season. Time to declare victory and go inside.

 

Get that ragweed!

Young ragweed plant before I pulled it up

If you don’t know what you’re looking at, ragweed is a pretty plant. Elegant lacy leaves. Demure spires of nearly invisible flowers. Spewing pollen. But this is one of my few no-tolerance plants. What really infuriates me about ragweed is that it flowers at the same time as one of the great bee-feeders  – goldenrod – and goldenrod takes the blame for the itchy noses of summer.

Sorry, bees, go back to eating goldenrod pollen. Goldenrod bears lots of beautiful yellow sprays that don’t bother anyone. And you humans, get to work! Do your friends and neighbors a favor: go on ragweed patrol and pull it out.

Sneaky Star-of-Bethlehem

Star-of-Bethlehem flowers

When I first saw the spiky six petals of this little white flower, it was surprisingly hard to track down what it was. There seems to be a lot more information about its big cousin, the lily. When I finally identified it as Star-of-Bethlehem, I was a little worried, as words like “invasive” and “aggressive” keep cropping up.

Of course, by the time I got it into my head that I should eradicate it, it had already gone back to earth. I tried a couple times in the next years to dig it up, but it seems to have deep roots. And it hasn’t actually been all that invasive, at least not in my yard. True, it turns up every spring, but only in a couple spots and those spots are pretty crowded.  So there’s a bit of room for them.

Besides, I have far, far worse weeds to war against.

Mullein slain

Doomed mullein rosette

So here’s a weed that’s a bit easier to deal with than the Evil One. Mulleins. Notice the trowel poised to remove it. Ignore the tulips and dandelions.

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Oh joy, the weeds are up

The evil weed rears its ugly head

I shouldn’t get too excited about the bees and the flowers. The Black Swallow-wort is sprouting too, like little green trumpets of war.

This is the first one I spotted just a couple days ago. It seemed pretty isolated, but now I’m seeing it everywhere. The annual assault of weeds is on, just as I’ve been expecting.

/Hefting trusty digger of weeds.

Bring it.

First maple shoot

Maple shoot

I guess this is the first weed of the year: a maple shoot. And I’m not going have time to pull it or any others for a few days, because NERAX started tonight.

Let the insanity ensue.

This is just too weird

There’s a story in Science News about brainlike properties in plant roots. There’s zillions of tendrils that connect with each other. They communicate chemically, and maybe even electrically. The article is vague about how exactly plants demonstrate behavior, but it’s more than speculation. I’ve seen what it’s talking about when digging up the evil Black Swallow-wort.

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Weed patrol: Beggar-tick

Nightshade berries

Black swallowort seeds

I looked for ragweed. And didn’t find any in the spot that was infested last year. Or anywhere else. Yet.

I looked for nightshade. And found plenty in the usual spots. Those bright red fruits made it easy to spot, but they plop out everywhere when you pull it up.

I didn’t have to look for Black swallow-wort. It looks for you. Little dried pods of seeds already ripe and spraying themselves into the breeze like evil dandelions, hoping to reconquer the swaths I cleared last year and kept clear this year.

Yes! I have indeed made progress in the war on weeds! Now that I look at the sequence, the later a weed goes to seed, the more likely I am to get all of it in time. And some of those troublesome seeds come from Beggar-tick.

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Wildflower planting for the bees

Green Agapostemon bee in asters

While it’s fun to plan flowers for the bees, I find the bees like even better the flowers that come unplanned, unheralded, and unasked. Especially in spring, wildflowers fill in the gaps before the “official” flowers bloom.

If I had to pick a favorite wildflower, I think of fall and pick wild asters (with goldenrod a close second). The asters flower late, when the other flowers are faded, in waves of pastels ranging from pink and violet to white. They bring all sorts of bees, honeybees and bumbles, bees big and small, including my favorite little bee, the shiny green Agapostemon.

So here follows my list of wildflowers that attract lots of bees:
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