Tips for getting rid of goatheads

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Q: I want to spray a small, young patch of goathead with an extra-strength Roundup-like weed killing product. Does it work on the young goathead type weeds? – M.A., Sandia Park

A: I see no reason why that type of weed killer won’t kill the goathead, especially being young and actively growing. I’ll bet they are listed as puncture vine on the product label as a plant it “hunts.”

There are a couple of thought patterns I want to remind you of so your hunt is very successful.

First, if it rains within 24 hours of the initial spraying, you should re-apply another spraying. Sure, several products say they are “rain-proof” shortly after being sprayed, but I truly believe any of these types of spray will always work best if they are given ample, undisturbed time in order to be properly absorbed by the plant. Longer is better!

Second, be sure you are spraying only the plants you want to kill. These types of spray will kill or maim most anything they are sprayed on. Be very selective.

Third, if you are mixing your own spray from concentrate, follow the label instructions. More is not better, and certainly do not mix chemicals.

Lastly, do clean up the dead afterwards. Pluck and throw away all of the dead plants. That way, if there was time for the plants to make seed, you’ll prevent a re-infestation! Be persistent and you should get all of those pesky goatheads!

Q: Just wondering, would now be a decent time to plant a crepe myrtle? I have a spot in the yard that I think would suit one. – L.M., Uptown

A: If you can find the perfect crepe myrtle, go for it! Your selection might not be as varied as you think, but if you find one, you can plant it. The planting “rules” stay the same, but let’s go over them as a wee refresher, OK?

First thing you get to do is dig the new home for your myrtle. This rule is hard-fast and should be written in stone for planting around here. Dig the hole twice as wide as the pot the plant comes in but dig only as deep as the pot. The soil that has been excavated needs to be amended with some sort of compost, but remember to stay away from manure! The amending ratio is 2/3 your soil to 1/3 compost thoroughly mixed together.

Next, set the new plant so it won’t be planted any deeper than it was in its pot. If that means you need to push amended soil beneath it before you backfill, then do just that. Planted too deeply, plants tend to suffocate.

After setting your treasure at the proper depth, backfill gently but firmly, tamping the soil mixture all around the root mass. Once the planting hole is filled use any excess soil to create a moat and slowly fill that moat with water. If you notice lots of air bubbling up from the roots, you should re-tamp the soil. After the initial slow watering, give the new planting a dose of root stimulator. It helps to prevent any stress and encourage development of a new series of “hair-root,” ensuring the plants’ ability to pull up life-giving water and nutrients. Water every day for the next 10, then begin weaning the watering back until you are watering once a week. If we get really hot again, be sure to keep the new planting well watered and consider another round of root stimulator.

There you go! Find your new crepe myrtle, add some cheery color to your world and have fun while you are out there Digging In!

Need tips on growing your garden? Tracey Fitzgibbon is a certified nurseryman. Send your garden-related questions to Digging In, Rio West, P.O. Drawer J, Albuquerque, NM 87103.