Let sleeping dogs (and weed seeds) lie

Two inches of baled straw have kept this potato bed relatively weed-free.

For many of us, May seems like the very beginning of the growing season. The tomatoes are still in the greenhouse and squash seeds still in the packet.

But by May 15, many weedy plants are already dropping the year's first crop of viable seeds. To reduce future weeds, we need to pull or dead-head seedheads before they can spread.

If you want to prevent new weeds, stop turning the soil. In a richly vegetated area such as ours, every inch of earth’s surface—and up to 36 inches below—is filled with seeds of trees, wildflowers, shrubs, vines, and grasses. Seeds travel up and down the soil’s depth through natural processes such as frost heave, the movements of insects and animals, and rain flow. Soil-dwelling critters eat some embedded seeds. Other seeds age, lose viability, and decay into organic matter.

But some seeds remain viable for many years.

Here’s the lesson: Seeds can’t germinate unless they are within the top few inches of soil. Dig as little as possible. Leave weed seeds where they belong--six inches under. 

For more ideas about how to prevent weeds (rather than kill them after they've already succeeded), see the full article and photos at 

The Day



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