West Life: Brief spring weather triggers weed anxiety

The nightmares already have started. The weed nightmares.

Yes, I know that it snowed this week and it only felt like spring for one day, but something triggered my weed anxiety.

Maybe it was an entire day of studying pest management in a Master Gardener class and realizing that in a very short amount of time, my yard will once again be infested with what I now recognize as annual sowthistle.

My husband had a different idea. “No more wine for you at dinner,” he said.

All I know is, I dreamt there was the cutest little green plant by my apple tree, and when I walked closer to it, it scurried away, giggling, like the mome raths in that animated “Alice in Wonderland” movie from the 1950s.

And then there were millions of these previously adorable creatures and they took over everything. I woke up twitching for my garden hoe.

In “The $64 Tomato,” William Alexander says there are two kinds of people who deal with weeds, those who hoe them while they’re small and those who wait until they’re bigger so they can just pull them. Of course, Alexander and his wife are polar opposites when it comes to weeds, so it’s amusing in a nerdy gardener sort of way.

But I think the war on weeds calls for a new guerrilla weed attack. During Master Gardener class this week, we learned about Integrated Pest Management, which sounds really official and smarty-pantsy. Basically, it means you should target your attack on any pest by knowing the pest, its life cycle and habits, and how to best deal with it. Also, it focuses on using different types of controls (not just chemical) and regular monitoring of your tactics to ensure your plan is working.

Your war on weeds probably will be cheaper and more effective if you devise a battle plan with this method.

Everyone’s yard is different and comes with specialized challenges. But here’s what I think I’m going to ask myself in preparing my battle plan this year: Do I want to spray regularly? Are there areas in my yard where I don’t want anything to grow at all (like a driveway) where I could just spread a pre-emergent and prevent some of the weed problem? Are there any places I could remove the habitat for the weeds? Could I plant some hardy, competing species that would crowd certain weeds out? And, most importantly, what am I dealing with?

You won’t know the best tactics for defeating your enemy if you don’t know what you’re dealing with. If the CSU Extension Service’s Susan Rose, a horticulture technician and Master Gardener coordinator, can find more than 60 different kinds of weeds at the Mesa County Fairgrounds, who knows what you have in your yard? You might even have one of the dreaded noxious, most-hated weeds lurking on your property. Whatever you have, the first step is knowing your enemy and identifying its weaknesses.

So this is your official notice, Kochia scoparia and Tribulus terrestris. I’m coming for you.

If you are looking for resources on weeds to help you with your battle plan, check out “Weeds of the West,” 640 pages of helpful weed information and photos written by extension service agents.

Or check out the Colorado Weed Management Association at ww.cwma.org.

Erin McIntyre is a writer, gardener and Grand Valley native in the midst of starting her own gourmet pickle company. You can reach her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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