Tackle those early vegetable bed weeds now - Albuquerque Journal

Tackle those early vegetable bed weeds now

Tracey FitzgibbonQ: I am amazed and dismayed. I have a small plot in the backyard that I planted vegetables in last year and did really well with the process. Now there are lots of weeds growing very quickly in that space. Is there a good way to eliminate the weeds and still be able to grow vegetables like I did last year? – H.G., Albuquerque

A: I suggest that you get out there and pull all of the rapid growers as soon as you can.

If you don’t, they will probably flower and release a new crop of seed. I think because the weeds are growing so quickly, you have a lot of the wild mustard popping up.

If you water the area first and then pluck each and every weed, you’ll get rid of this first crop. Throw them away. Do not allow them to stay piled up anywhere near your garden plot.

As soon as you’ve gotten all of this round pulled, you’ll want to “solarize” the space. Dig a trench around the plot, reserving the soil. Lightly water the area and spread a sheet of clear plastic over the space to cover it completely.

Next, you’ll want to tuck in the edges, pinning the sheet down with the reserved soil from the trench. Like making your bed, you want the plastic sheet held down and kept as close to the ground as possible. If you need help to hold the plastic in place, stones or lengths of wood can be used. You don’t want any fresh air lifting the sheet at all.

Within a couple of weeks, there should be the next crop of weeds. Turn the sheet back and pluck all of those offenders. Then, lightly water the area and respread the sheet, again making sure to snug it down at the edges completely. Effectively, you are creating a solar greenhouse that is encouraging the weed crop to sprout quicker. By eliminating each round of weeds, you’ll be getting the upper hand.

Do this process twice, maybe three times, before you start your vegetable garden and you’ll have far fewer weeds.

I prefer the solarization method when weed hunting in an area that is planned as a vegetable garden. A chore? Yes. But so good at getting a garden area ready to use.

Q: When should I start repotting my houseplants? I have a couple that need it. – L.P., Albuquerque

A: Since the sun is coming back around, I think you can go ahead with this project.

If you plan on moving any of your houseplants onto a patio, it’s far too early for that. Wait until mid-April before any of your treasures are plunked outdoors.

While you are repotting, consider washing off all of the leaves, too. If the containers can be moved into a bathtub, bathe all of the leaves using a hand-held shower wand. If the plants are small enough and the pots can fit in the sink, you can do the same thing there. The water temperature should be just barely warm.

If you can’t move the potted plants, wipe off the leaves singularly. Hold a leaf in the palm of your hand and using a dampened cloth, wipe the leaf surface from the inside outwards.

Be sure to rinse the cloth after a couple of wipes to get the leaves tidy. You need only wipe the top of the leaf. If you scrub the underside of the leaves, you can disrupt their breathing mechanisms. Remember that you should only wipe “hard-surfaced” leaves this way. Plants like pothos, rubber plants and the like.

Fuzzy leaf plants are a whole different category. For them a polite vacuuming or a light swiping with a soft paintbrush could help tidy them up.

So if you’re itching to start the repotting and cleaning of your houseplants, go for it.

Happy Diggin’ In!

Tracey Fitzgibbon is a certified nurseryman. Send garden-related questions to Digging In, Albuquerque Journal, 7777 Jefferson NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109, or to features@abqjournal.com.


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