Identifying the weeds that are determined to grow in your garden plot is an big part of gardening. Here are four of the weeds that are making an appearance at both the Moreau Community Garden and Saratoga Springs Community Garden. Remember it is easiest to pull these weeds out when they are small.
Nettles – From the Cornell University website: “Urtica dioica has an enormous native range – including North America, Europe, Asia, and northern Africa – and a long history of use as a source of food, medicine, and fiber. The leaves of stinging nettles are covered with trichomes, hollow hairs that inject irritating chemicals, including histamines, into anything that touches them – a human hand, for instance.”
If you find this in your plot, use gloves to remove it. And if you are interested in this herbs history and folklore, search ‘nettle history’ online. Nettles are found in Norse myths, Hans Christian Anderson stories, West African tales and more.
Lambsquarters – This is a very common weed in the Northeast perhaps because a single plant can produce more than 50,000 seeds. As you weed, be sure to get the entire root. With time lambsquarters develops a short, thick taproot. At the tender size it is now, it can easily be removed with a pinch from your fingers or a garden hoe dragged along the surface. Here are two more uninvited guests you might want to know.
The first pictured below is common purslane. The weed has distinctive succulent foliage that is edged with a tint of red. Using a hoe with this plant isn’t advised as it can re-root if left on the soil.
Pictured below is Pennsylvania smartweed. Touching this plant causes dermatitis for some people. If you want to see an interesting website on how this plant was used medicinally, go to: http://www.bio.brandeis.edu/fieldbio/medicinal_plants/pages/smartweed.html
No matter how many times we weed, new weeds will appear during the growing season. Don’t give up. It is important to weed as a single weed produces thousands of seeds, pulls nutrients and moisture away from desired plants, and provides shelter for insects making it harder for a gardener to grow strong, healthy plants.