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Spring’s Fling

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Water and weeds are two overlapping themes that inevitably come up when planning what to do in the spring garden, and the right approach to both can save time and labor as the garden transitions to summer.

“If you had a problem with summer annual weeds in past years, now is the time to apply a pre-emergent herbicide for that weed, but that assumes you have already done your homework and identified the weed last summer when they were in full growth cycle,” says Cheryl Kent, horticulture agent with the Bernalillo County Cooperative Extension Service.

If not, take note of summer weeds and know what they are so you’ll be prepared for spraying with the appropriate pre-emergent herbicide come the spring of 2013.

Of course, a number of weeds appear in the spring garden, including London rocket, one of the most common types of mustard weed. It starts germinating in the fall, and then flowers and sets seed late the following spring, Kent says.

The most environmentally friendly way to deal with mustard weed is to pull them out by hand as they appear, or if there are simply too many, they can be spot-treated with a glyphosate herbicide, such as Roundup, she says. It’s extremely important to read the label instructions carefully, as should be done with any herbicide for a targeted weed.

The occasional weed in a turf lawn should also be pulled or spot-treated, but avoid using combination “weed and feed” herbicide/fertilizer mixes, Kent says. Kent recommends using a separate turf lawn fertilizer product and turning to a separate herbicide product only as needed.

However the best way to prevent a turf lawn from being assaulted by weeds is to give it enough water so it doesn’t get stressed. A well-hydrated lawn will grow a turf thick enough to crowd out weeds. Consequently, says Kent, spring is a good time to make sure your lawn’s irrigation system is operating and spraying uniformly. This will actually save a lot of labor later on.

Another chore in the spring garden is to clean the ground of debris. Rake up dead leaves and twigs, and remove branches that may have fallen to the ground. The dead leaves and small twigs can be placed in a compost pile, where they will be biologically broken down and eventually turned into organic matter for amending the soil.

For additional information on garden-related issues, contact Kent at 243-1386. You can also send her an email, or a photo of a weed that needs identification to kent@nmsu.edu.

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