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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

How Do YOU De-Weed a Mulched Garden?

I've gotten myself in one fine mess this time. I read some article on that was going on about how magical mulch is and the author stated that, instead of pulling weeds, you can simply throw mulch right on top of them to get rid of them. I think I took this too far. Instead of giving my 3 non-rose gardens a good hoeing before mulching, I just dumped the woodchips right on top. The weeds are already taking over. It's mostly this bastard morning glory that grows in every nook and cranny of our property (including the grass). I don't really mind it in the grass, it's kind of interesting and unexpected, but it knows no boundaries.

So, what do I do now? I do not see how it is physically possible to pull all these weeds with the mulch sitting on top. The only 2 things I can think of is to 1. rake off all the wood chips, weed, and replace the woodchips or 2. spray them with something that will kill them. Although option 2 suits my laziness way more, I would prefer not to use harsh chemicals which limits me somewhat. Plus, I really don't want to put my other plants in danger. Below is the other stuff that's taking over. The funny thing about this is that I didn't even notice this stuff until I dug up my gardens. It's like it was just waiting for me to get this just like I wanted to come along and ruin it all.
What would you do?


  1. Your plants are fairly well spread apart, aren't they, Gina, because your garden is in the works. So: what I would do is mix up a solution of 1 cup of salt in one gallon of vinegar, along with a tsp-tbsp of dish detergent to make this concoction stick. Then spray it on the weeds, taking care not to hit your plants. (you can use a spray bottle or if you have some sort of pump-up pressurized sprayer, that works fine, just make sure to set the spray so it hits the weeds rather than your plants. Overspray on a leaf or two won't kill your perennials or shrubs, but you want to avoid that if possible. This mixture works quickly on weeds, much quicker than glyphosate, and works on MOST things. It doesn't kill underground roots which is why it's not terribly successful with goutweed (my nemesis), but it works well on a host of other things. It doesn't last in the soil for long periods of time either. (Make sure to do this on a day when rain isn't expected or the rain will wash the vinegar off before it has a chance to kill the weeds.)

    You could use horticultural vinegar, which has a higher concentration of acetic acid than does household vinegar, but it's also more expensive and harder to find.

    And don't feel bad. We've all done this. Sometimes, if we mulch heavily enough, we get away with it. :-) Just remember: there are no gardening mistakes, only experiments! :-)

  2. That last photo looks like it could be purslane...a bad one. Every little piece of the plant left in the ground will regrow. Dispose of in the garbage, don't compost!

  3. Gina... the first vining weed is not morning glory, I am pretty sure it is field bindweed. A very bad weed, indeed. A perennial, it will return relentlessly. Even if you had pulled it or hoed it up before you mulched, it would have come back, so don't worry that you didn't do that first.

    Jodi's advice on the vinegar based weed killer is good, but remember it kills everything, but is safer than Round Up (glyphosate). Where the bindweed is in the lawn, mow high to hopefully eventually shade it out and wear it out. In the beds, use the weed killer and also pull it as much as you can. A good vinegar based weed killer on the market is Perfectly Natural Weed Killer.

    The other weed is purslane. Pull it and throw it away, don't toss it into the compost. Connie is right about that! It roots readily from small pieces and also if you let it flower and set seed, it will be everywhere. I speak from experience on this one. It should be easy to pull.

    Good luck! You will beat these weeds! We are all "rooting for you" and "pulling for you"!

    Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

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  5. Jodi - thank you so much for the suggestion! I'm assuming that your first recipe included regular vinegar? I mean this may seem silly but I need to know if you mean white vinegar or cider or...?

    Connie - thanks for making the point NOT to put the purslane in the compost! I sure hope I havent already done that. I really can't remember.

    Carol - thanks for letting me know that this stuff is not morning glory. It opens in the morning and closes at night so I thought that might be it. I feel kinda bad about blaming it on morning glory but I'm glad to know that's not it since it had made me never want to try actual morning glory. Also, HAHAHAHAHAHAHA at "rooting and pulling for me" Very cute!

  6. I always find it interesting that some people are terrified of using something like Roundup, yet have no problem dumping acetic acid (vinegar) and salt in their soil. The Roundup kills, down to the root, everything it touches - so be carefull if you use it not to overspray. The nice thing about that is that it doesn't change the soil pH or turn you garden into a salt marsh. Chemicals are chemicals no matter where they come from - your kitchen doesn't neccesarily make it any safer to your plants.