Gardening Tips: The good, the bad and the ugly insects, by Master Gardener Judy Jean

Weeds are a common problem for gardeners. These unwanted plants can quickly take over a garden, stealing valuable nutrients, water, and sunlight from your desirable plants. Fortunately, there are several strategies you can use to control weeds and keep your garden healthy.

Identifying Common Garden Weeds

Before you can effectively control weeds, it’s important to be able to identify them. Assessing weeds is an important part of any gardening practice, as it helps determine the best approach to weed management. To assess weeds, one should start by identifying the types of weeds present in the area. This can be done by examining the plant’s leaves, stems, and flowers, and comparing them to identification guides or consulting with a local expert. Once the types of weeds are identified, the next step is to determine the severity of the weed infestation. This can be done by estimating the percentage of the area covered by weeds or the number of weeds per unit area. Finally, it is important to consider the potential impact of the weeds on the crop or garden. Weeds can compete with crops for resources such as water and nutrients, and some weeds may even release chemicals that inhibit crop growth. By assessing the type, severity, and impact of weeds, farmers and gardeners can develop an effective weed management plan that minimizes the negative impact of weeds on their crops.
Here are some of the most common garden weeds:

  1. Crabgrass and Signalweed: This annual weed is often found in lawns and gardens. It spreads quickly, forming large patches that can crowd out other plants.
  2. Dollarweed: This is a warm-season perennial weed that prefers wet conditions. You will notice them more in overwater or naturally wet places.
  3. Artilleryweed: This weed has small succulent leaves and explosive seed pods that can shoot their seeds several feet away when disturbed.
  4. Spanish Needles: Has small yellow flowers and hooked seeds that can cling to clothing or animal fur.

Controlling Weeds in Your Garden

Once you’ve identified the weeds in your garden, it’s time to start controlling them. Here are some strategies you can use:

  1. Mulch: Adding a layer of mulch to your garden can help suppress weeds by blocking out sunlight. Organic mulches like straw, shredded leaves, or wood chips can also improve soil health.
  2. Hand-pulling: For small gardens or individual weeds, hand-pulling can be an effective control method. Be sure to remove the entire plant, including the roots, to prevent regrowth.
  3. Herbicides: Chemical herbicides can be effective in controlling weeds, but they should be used with caution. Be sure to read the label carefully and follow all instructions to avoid harming desirable plants.
  4. Crop rotation: Rotating your crops can help prevent weed growth by disrupting their life cycle. Be sure to avoid planting crops from the same family in the same spot year after year.

Preventing Weeds in Your Garden

Prevention is the best strategy when it comes to controlling weeds. Here are some tips for preventing weeds in your garden:

  1. Keep your garden clean: Remove any plant debris or weeds as soon as you see them.
  2. Plant densely: Planting your garden densely can help shade out weeds and prevent their growth.
  3. Use weed-free soil: Make sure any soil or compost you add to your garden is free of weed seeds.
  4. Use weed barriers: Landscape fabric or cardboard can be used as a weed barrier in your garden.
    Weeds can be a nuisance in any garden, but with the right strategies, they can be effectively controlled. Identify the weeds in your garden, choose the right control method, and focus on prevention to keep your garden healthy and weed-free. With a little effort and attention, you can enjoy a beautiful, thriving garden all season long.

What’s New Happening at the Extension Office?

If you’re a gardening enthusiast, you may want to keep an eye out for Flagler County Master Gardener Plant Sale fundraiser on June 17, 2023. Flagler County Master Gardener program is a volunteer organization that promotes gardening education and community outreach. At these sales, you’ll find a wide variety of plants, including annuals, perennials, fruit trees, and natives, all grown and cared for by knowledgeable volunteers. Not only will you be able to purchase some unique and healthy plants for your garden, but you’ll also be supporting a good cause and learning from experienced gardeners in the process. Please follow us on Facebook at Flagler County Master Gardeners for more information or email at!