Weather Whining and Weeding

– Posted in: Pests, Plagues, and Varmints, Weather

One thing the internet has done for gardeners is made us all more aware of the conditions others garden in. To see the photos of narcissus and cosmos growing in warmer climates when for me it is the dead of winter continues to astound me. A couple of weeks ago, this post on an eclectic garden kind of took me aback. At the time, my area had just come out of a very dry May and was in the midst of an unseemly June heat wave. I found the fact that the eclectic gardener can normally expect only 1.21″ of rain in May just as astounding as narcissus in December. The average rainfall in May in my area is 3.55″, and we are glad to get every bit of it. This May, however, a mere 0.75″ fell to the ground. The lack of precipitation, coupled with cooler than average temperatures (we had a few nights in the low 20s F.) slowed our spring quite a bit. I think both my mock-orange and some of lilacs had poor bloom because of those hard freezes.

Then came the heat and humidity–quite a bit earlier than the usual July. This is the kind of weather that makes me feel persecuted. I mean, the main method I have for coping with the cold of winter is to tell myself that at least I won’t have to deal with the heat and humidity that comes with living in a warmer climate! And it didn’t even cool off much at night, which, when you don’t have air conditioning, is the primary way of coping with heat: pull in the cool night air and try to keep it in the house as long as possible. At least we did get more rain–2.05″ so far. Of course, combined with the heat, it was kind of like a sauna bath. But I can suffer for the sake of my plants better than suffering for no good reason. Now we have perfect conditions for weeding: moist soil and cool temps. All that heat made for plenty of weeds, too.

I rather enjoy weeding when perfect conditions prevail. Unfortunately, I only know one way to weed: pull the plants out one by one. This works great when you’re faced with a thickly planted perennial bed. It doesn’t work so great when you’re faced with a freshly dug and newly planted bed that you didn’t get around to mulching because it was so hot. Fifty hundred million weed seedlings take a long time to pull out one by one, especially if you’re trying to not pull out the self-sown poppy seedlings that are sandwiched between them. This is one of many reasons why I get behind on my weeding. I’m just not that handy with a hoe, even when the situation calls for it. I always feel like I don’t have enough control (coordination? arm-and-shoulder strength?) to avoid doing damage to the very plants I’m trying to help. It probably factors into why I’m not a vegetable gardener, too.

I suspect different personality types have different weeding styles. I know my husband weeds far more efficiently than I do. He tends to focus on the forest, and I zero in on the individual weeds–er, trees. What’s your weeding style?

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

In the end, this may be the most important thing about frost: Frost slows us down. In spring, it tempers our eagerness. In fall, it brings closure and rest. In our gotta-go world–where every nanosecond seems to count–slowness can be a great gift. So rather than see Jack Frost as an adversary, you could choose to greet him as a friend.

~Philip Harnden in A Gardener’s Guide to Frost: Outwit the Weather and Extend the Spring and Fall Seasons

Comments on this entry are closed.

Alice Nelson June 20, 2005, 3:49 pm

I am one of those bad people who believe in Preen, which I applied last fall (or sometime) and am fortunate to not have many weeds popping up, There are always a few popping up, but not in force, and I find a good cultivating tool (my daughter gave me one of those ergonomically designed ones) has done wonders. Since I plant for a lot of other people who whuld never weed, I feel Preen is the only way to go. I do not let johnny-jump-up ( and a few others) as pretty as they are, get a toehold, except in certain places (like near the alley among some daylilies). The millions of silver dollar plants that popped up where their parents bloomed have or will be thinned to a resonable 2-3, since they are pretty in the spring with the tulips. Yes, the weather here in Michigan’s U.P. has been crazy – if it isn’t rainy and cold, it is too warm to work after noon. Doesn’t help to get caught up with my clients’.
Still trying to get in all the bedding plants – probably 70 flats or so. My own flower boxes are waiting for some attention.

Sandy June 20, 2005, 7:16 am

Weeding is such a chore, but after the long, wet spell we’ve had here on the coast, it has been a pleasure just to get outside again! Our biggest problem right now is dealing with the onslaught of slugs brought on by the wet weather. I go out early each morning and again around dusk with my handy salt shaker. In addition, I have numerous saucers of cheap beer scattered about the garden. (I keep the good stuff for myself). “-)

Claire June 20, 2005, 7:03 am

I hate weeding and after 4 days of rain the weeds come, so guess what I did all day Sunday?!!! The only way I have found to control the little suckers is to get down on your hands and knees and just start pulling! I carry round my little bucket and just slowly progress around the beds. If I know that there is nothing that I can damage I will take a hand rake and lightly rake the surface to drag the weeds up, but mostly its by hand