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weeds with clinging seeds

Witch grass, Panicum capillare

Leaf blades and leaf sheaths densely hairy, the hair 2 – 3 mm long and becoming harsh and prickly as the plant matures; leaf sheath split (B), its margins (a) either separate or overlapping; ligule (b) a dense fringe of hair 1 – 2 mm (1/25 – 1/12 in.) long; no auricles.

Flowers and Fruit

Inflorescence (C) a large, loose, open, fluffy panicle with numerous, very fine branches and tiny spikelets (d) at the ends of those branches; the much-branched panicle often wider than long and, on small- to medium-sized plants, often making up ½ to 2/3 the total height of the plant; mature spikelets 0.7 – 0.8 mm wide by 2.0 – 2.3 mm long florets (“seeds”) 0.6 – 0.7 mm wide and 1.3 – 1.4 mm long shiny gray-brown with 5 parallel beige veins. At maturity, the stem breaks easily below the inflorescence and the whole panicle is rolled and tumbled by the wind, dropping seed with every bounce. Flowers from July to September.

Roots and Underground Structures

Fibrous root system.

Habitat

Witch grass is very common in fields, waste areas, roadsides, backyards, gardens and occasionally in lawns throughout southern Ontario and sporadically in northern and northwestern Ontario.

Competitiveness

Corn yield loss (%)*: 1 % at 1 plant/m2 5 % at 5 plant/m2 Soybean yield loss (%)*: 1 % at 1 plant/m2 4 % at 5 plant/m2 *assumes that the weed has emerged with the crop and has been left uncontrolled all season.

Distinguishing Features

It is distinguished from Fall panicum by its densely hairy leaves and leaf sheaths, its very fine, bushy panicle and its smaller seeds; and from Proso millet by its much smaller seeds that are only gray-brown in colour. Seedlings of Witch grass can be distinguished from those of Proso millet only by the size, shape and colour of the mother seed clinging to the primary root.

Beelarong Community Farm

Beginning with an empty allotment, the first plants you see emerging from the soil may not be the seeds you planted, but more likely weeds. It can be difficult at this early stage to know what to keep and what to pull out. If in doubt ask one of the farm’s volunteers.

It is important that you do keep your allotment free from weds, particularly before they flower and disperse their seed. In many varieties this can be less than two weeks so regular weeding is important. One allotment with weeds can undo the good work done by other allotment holders spreading weeds across the farm.

If a neighbouring allotment is becoming full of weeds, do not take it upon yourself to remove them (apart from any that may be encroaching onto your allotment). See the allotment coordinator and they will address the problem.

Refer to the list below for identifying common weed species found on the farm.

For more information on weeds commonly found in Brisbane, consult weeds.brisbane.qld.gov.au

Nutgrass: Fast growing invasive. Spear like new leaves emerging from soil. Nut like tuber underground. Do not dispose of these in the compost bins. They have to go in the council bins.

Weeds with clinging seeds

Weeds, – the bane of every gardener. – All those plants in the wrong place, all those fast spreading seedlings that take over as soon as your back is turned.

Now i'm a great believer in plants in the right place, ground cover so that weeds can't get to the soil surface, And i'm a great fan of detailed hand weeding to ensure that roots are removed, and perennials are reduced, but there are 3 times when a sharp hoe, with a light root cutting technique wins every time.

1) – in the year after creating a border, when weed seeds will have been brought to the surface by all the soil preparation and planting. – A good hoeing session will get rid of all the annual weeds before they've seeded. These borders were created last April. The plants are doing well, but havn't knitted together at full spread yet, so hoeing the annual seeds was a great way to clear the border. – Note, the Marestail coming through – Hoeing will have no effect on that.

2) – When you've got a dry flat area that is going to be used as a path – Like here Inside my Polytunnel. The borders were hand weeded, and a thick layer of Mulch/Organic compost put on them to plant into, – but the pathways have been hoed each week to keep weeds at bay

3) Between straight rows of Vegetables or flowers, – – straight, so that you can identify those which are weedlings and seedlings, Often, so that they don't get a chance to take over.

When Hoeing isn't such a good idea

When the soil is wet, –

When you've got plants close together,

When you'll be disturbing the soil surface and bringing up weed seeds to the light.

Here's to keeping those weeds under control this season. – Don't forget the saying 1 year of seeds is 7 years of weeds!

Enemy number one – Slugs

June 21, 2012

When you grow your own vegetables, – especially when you're talking about lettuces and curcubits. Slugs can be your worst enemies at this time of year.

There are many different types of slugs, – it doesn't necessarily follow that the bigger they are the more they eat. But for me, if they are in my vegetable patch, then i'm at war with them. – On the footpath to the station, i'll carefully step around them, If they attack my flowers, i'll probably forgive them, but if they are after my lettuces, then they are combatants in my war, and they deserve to be taken down.

Now being an organic gardener, i'm not going to use chemicals, so over the years i've tried everything. Grit, coffee grinds, sea Shells, bran, copper collars and bands, egg shells, plus lots of others. If I find a few a couple hiding under pots when i'm at home, i'll feed them to the chickens, but when we collected a pot from the allotment last week, my girls looked at us in horror and let most of them crawl away without eating them (they prefer lettuces too!)

Unfortunately I have to let you know that although Bran is very useful and cheap in a dry year, when we've had a soaking summer it is useless.

Although Grit is good to a certain degree, if a single leaf touches the ground outside the circle of aggregate, then your plant is high level slug food.

Even putting plants in pots on shelving isn't foolproof, as I found a slug eating a sweetcorn leaf a metre off the ground last week.

So i'm using a mixture of vigilance, growing on plants until they can provide some of their own defences (courgettes get prickly leaves when they get to a certain size) keeping hiding places like long grass cut back, and a pot of death, with salt water in it, that I pop all the transgressers in to.

i've found children love slug hunting, and my school gardening club group certainly love a good hunt each week. – However with half term and an activities week meaning that we missed a couple of sessions, the slugs have overwhelmed us. – On Saturday we collected over a hundred, and these won't bother us again, but they've probably left babies to trouble us this week, so my lettuces still aren't safe.

The worst weed – Japanese Knotweed & what to do if you find it

April 25, 2012

Before the rain got too heavy to do anything, – i've been spending this week weeding a large border ready for planting.

This was one of those borders that have been looked after by "gardeners" – (note the inverted commas) of the type that David Cameron knows about, – e.g the unskilled ones. – (Sorry, not usually political, nuff said, don't get me riled about Garden Janitors, or those who don't know what real gardeners do)

Anyway, I knew that this border had a huge amount of Ground Elder, and Bindweed through it, which would mean we needed to take out all the perennials and get the weed roots out of their rootballs. What I hadn't counted on though was this

Now those of you who have just said oooh, while sucking in air through their teeth, will know that this is not good news. Those of you who have read the title of this blog, and can guess that it's bad will be waiting to hear how bad, and those of you who have never heard of Japanese knotweed will be thinking that's a pretty plant, – will it fill up my border and flower?

I managed to find Japanese Knotweed in the garden of the 3rd client I ever did a consultation for. A huge stand of it, which in the January I found it looked like burnt bamboo. I went on a huge learning curve of finding out about it, and if you really want to know lots more then the RHS website and the environment agency website are the places to go.

That was why when I moved to my current house 4 years ago and this lovely plant grew in the back border, I found it easy to identify

Normally when you find a nasty weed, you dig it out, and get rid of it, or at least cut it back regularly to weaken it (a la marestail) but this one is so easily able to grow from the tiniest piece of root, that it is classified as controlled waste, which means you can't just throw it in the rubbish bin, or put it out with the green bags.

That's probably how the stuff gets into gardens, by people who don't know what it is managing to propagate it by mistake by digging it up

If you've got a large amount, then you call in the contractors. – Grace and Flavour our community garden had a huge amount of the stuff, and a local company called EnvironetUK used a fantastic machine to get it out of the ground, and the rhizomes were then burnt,

In a garden, and certainly for this border that i've found it in, We'll leave it alone and use Chemical warfare, and not plant near it (yes i'm usually an organic person, but this is different).

I know that this is the best option because we no longer have the knotweed in our garden, – 2 treatments were all that were needed,

So Japanese Knotweed, although it was introduced as an ornamental plant in 1825 is not great for gardens, and will spread rapidly from even the smallest root. if you find it in large amounts then you'll need professional help to get rid of it, otherwise, get out the Glyphosate.

Wish me luck, – i'm hoping this lot can be got rid of as thougroughly as mine and Grace and Flavour's

Update – After posting this, I had several conversations with tweeters about the fact that the stem is edible, and tastes (and can be cooked) in the same way as Rhubarb.- I replied that there wasn't big enough pieces for eating, and then – lightning struck twice, and I went to do a new garden consultation at the weekend and found

yes, this stem does look rhubarb like, – but that's not good for the house owners (who also have regular gardeners who've missed it!) – It's also growing onto the neighbouring golf course, so they are liasing with them about treatment and removal – i'll keep you updated

Keeping your plants as teenagers – Hedera Helix

March 08, 2012

In real life, – you don't want to keep your children as teenagers, you want them to grow up and leave home at some point. With plants however, there are some that you want to keep in their teenage/juvenile form, as that is better behaved. (unlike real life)

Hedera Helix is a good example of this

In its Juvenile form, it is a great plant for covering walls and fences, – it is evergreen, grows in shade and lots of forms have very pretty leaves.

But keep it trimmed regularly (once or twice a year at least) other wise not only will you loose site of what it's growing on (in this case a lovely wall), it will grow up.

The adult form of Ivy has Larger leaves, and flowers and berries. The berries are loved as winter food by birds (although poinsonous to us and dogs), but the main problem if the ivy is in the wrong place is that the adult form grows a heavy wooden trunk.

if it gets through a fence (like here coming into my veg patch in 2008) the weight can bring down even the best erected fencing posts. and can grow up trees and smoother and break them.

Just 2 years later, this fence was in tatters

and had to be replaced at great expense. – The Ivy looked wonderful from the neighbours side,-A lovely big evergreen shrub that was shielding the fence from view.

So if you've got Hedera Helix – English Ivy in your garden, – give it a trim soon to keep it as a teenager before it becomes too heavy.

Unwanted wildlife in your garden

January 04, 2012

I'm a great believer in attracting wildlife into the garden. – Even small gardens can be great for wildlife (and i'm talking to several W.I groups this year about this very subject). However on our fresh air walk yesterday, we had to rehouse a fieldmouse that had decided to make our garden shed its home.

We live near to fields and farmland, so it's not suprising that we get some rodents as well as more benificial wildlife in our garden. Mice are very partial to young pea shoots, – Sweetpea and edible plants, and as i'm just about to sow some seeds in my saved up loo roll middles, I don't want any hanging around the garden.

Of course the mouse had been tempted in because we'd dropped some chicken and bird food on the floor. We've now had a big clean up of the shed so it's not as inviting to them. Sunflower seeds are some of their favourite food, so if you store your birdfood in a shed, make sure that it is in a sealed container. The benefit of them loving sunflower seeds, is that is what we used as a lure to get our unwanted visitor into our humane trap.

I'm, now hoping that this mouse will like its new home in a local orchard, and won't try coming home Chez Brown, then i'll only have to combat Pigeons and Foxes as unwanted wildlife here this year.

Post Holiday pathos

August 04, 2011

The trouble with being a gardener, is that when you go away on holiday, the garden just, – well does it's own thing.

Random thoughts on my early evening stroll.

How did that grass get so long and weedy in 11 days?

I'd better pick some apples, or those branches will break.

I wonder if the lemon cucumbers will taste better or worse now they are lemon colour?

Why is it that now the sweet peas are ready to pick, the Calendula are looking over?

How can weeds get to smoothering Hosta size in just over a week, when everything else in that dry shady border struggles?

Better get mowing/deadheading/picking/weeding in the morning, – good job noone thinks i'm home till tomorrow! (don't tell them)

If you’ve got Rosemary or Lavender in your garden, check for this

June 14, 2011

For the last couple of years, i've noticed this lovely looking shiny Rosemary beetle, more and more often.

Although pretty looking, these beetles strip the Rosemary plants of foliage, leaving bare skeletal branches if not controlled.

There are no chemicals to control this pest, but usually that isn't a problem if you know to look for them as they are easy to spot, eating the tips of your tasty herb.

Today however i've also spotted the little rotters moved in on newly planted Lavender.

They were eating the flowers, and were easy to catch as they sat still and waited for me to collect them up and lead them to their doom. However these are now here and here to stay, so if you've got Rosemary or Lavender in your garden, – go out and take a look, – let me know if you find them, – i'd love to know how far they have spread.

Vine weevil attack, – or there goes the fruit cup.

May 19, 2011

While gardening today for a client, one of her friends asked me why her blueberry was going all brown. (yes, like doctors, I get asked questions whereever I am, – today I was underneath a gooseberry bush weeding!)

I replied that in this hot weather, it was probably due to lack of water, and that Blueberries (being acid loving) don't much like our Alkaline tap water round here.

But when I got home, while watering, (with the last of my waterbutt rainwater) I noticed that my Blueberries were also turning a tad brown, and as I know i've been lavishing the water on them, because they didn't flower much, I took a closer look

Unfortunately these tell tale notches in the leaves can mean only one thing

I had my worst fears were confirmed when I went to knock the Blueberry out of its pot to check the rootball, only to find that the roots had been eaten away and there was very little left.

There in the compost was a creamy white empty larvae shell, and then sitting on the wall I noticed the adult culprit.

I snapped this pic of the Adult and the Larvae shell, before administering my own form of insect control with my boot.

 This means that i'll have to go out tomorrow to get some Nemasys Vine Weevil control. This is the organic way of getting a bug that eats a bug to do the dirty work for me.

Steinernema Kraussei is the nematode that is the active "ingredient" – it turns up in the pack looking like some dried out clay, and you mix it with water before applying it to those things that may be infested. In my case i'll be watering it on to all the pots on my patio. 

Of course the thing that i'm most annoyed about, is that they were my prizewinning Darrow berries.  Without them, my hopes of regaining the West Horsley Horticultural Society fruit cup in the autumn are fading 🙁

So if your blueberries are going brown, it might not be your watering, – maybe check for the tell tale signs of vineweevil?

What’s that sticky weed?

May 05, 2011

We've just had the briefest of rain showers after 9 weeks of drought, but that will be enough to start the weeds regrowing.

One that can spread fantastically fast during May and swallow up seedlings and even established plants is Sticky weed

Sticky weed, sometimes known as Cleavers, – or its latin name of Galium Aparine is starting to multiply everywhere this week.

It is spread by clinging on to clothing or animals so that the seed is spread round the garden.

Yes Children love it, but the weed is counting on them to spread itself!

To stand a chance of eliminating it, you need to get it before it seeds. Get down on your hands and knees (a good pair of knee pads is needed as its favourite hiding place is under spiky hedges in my experience) – it's easy to pull up and remove, although it can be a skin irritant, so gloves are a must.

If you're going put it on the compost heap, let it dry out first, or put it in a plastic bag to go mushy before you add it.

Weeds or worth it?

May 04, 2011

Aqueligia, or Granny's bonnets.

I spend a lot of my professional life pulling out weeds. But when is a plant a weed? This Aqueligia certainly wasn't sown by me, but at this time of the year, in this border, it's a lovely addition. When it strays over the drive to my foliage border, then it's a weed, and i've been evicting them before they overtake my Hostas, but here i'm quite happy to let them stay, – under control. For flower between the tulips and the summer perennials.