Wet, cool spring yields bumper crop of weeds


Like many gardeners, I’ve been eager to get out and work in the garden after the unsettled spring weather. But if gardeners didn’t enjoy the recent damp, chilly days, the weeds sure did. Gardening has devolved into endless days of weeding.

I’m not the neatest gardener, so some weeds are to be expected around here. But this year there seems to be a tidal wave of noxious plants. There are dinner plate-sized dandelions, of course, but those are easily spotted. The soil is moist enough that they’re easy to dispense with, too. My gardener’s knife goes down far enough to pop them right out of the earth.

Creeping veronica and chickweed aren’t as easily removed. The veronica is growing over our gravel paths so quickly they’ve pretty much turned green. I see more and more flowers on them waiting to unfurl as soon as the sun appears. That means more veronica seeds, so I’m frantically digging, tracing their thin roots and prying the mass out of the gravel before they blossom. If I leave even a few root threads behind the plant seems to recover and pop up again after the next shower.

Chickweed is also on the verge of flowering, and I have plenty of it, along with a variety of thistles that are new introductions. I’m trying to get those immediately so they don’t grow extensive root systems that make them almost impossible to eradicate.

We have a full selection of burdock and other burr-producing weeds that I think arrived in the fill we used after the front pond was removed. There’s nothing like fill for introducing interesting new weed seeds.

My old enemy oxalis is also making a big comeback this year, and the birds have deposited lots of buckthorn and pagoda dogwood seeds under the shrubs. There’s even garlic mustard weeds in some beds. They probably arrived on the feet of visiting deer.

The weather has been so perfect for growing that it’s not just evildoers that are clogging the beds. Out front it looks as if every coneflower, coreopsis and lamb’s ear seed that hit the ground sprouted a new plant. I depend on self-sows to fill in for any plant that doesn’t survive the winter, but this is ridiculous. Baby perennials are everywhere. My first rule of gardening is that a plant out of place is a weed, so dozens of them go into my weed bucket, although I spare some of the best looking ones. They can fill the empty spots that appear in the beds once the cloud of weeds is removed.

Dig to loosen the soil, pull the weed, repeat, repeat, repeat. I used to be really good at this. But now I cross off a bed as completely clean and a visit the next morning shows that some of the weeds I was sure I got were just playing possum. The morning dew has perked them right up.

My creaky joints and arthritic hands may not work as well as I think they do. Or maybe it’s my eyesight. I seem to miss a lot of weeds on the first pass through a bed and need a second and sometimes third visit to finally get the last of them out. But I’m patient and persistent. I have a digger and a hoe and I’m not afraid to use them. Weeds, fear this gardener. I’m coming for you, sometime soon after my fingers have rested.



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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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