Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Spring Weeds Are Easy to Pull

Commentary to the Grants Pass City Council, 3-20-2013.

Honorable Council, Mayor, and Manager,
The annual weeds that I brought for show and tell at the meeting this week were easy to find in your parking lot, and easy to pull.  The ground is moist, their stems are tough, and their roots are small, since their roots shrink as their flowers grow.
They are not easily killed or controlled by any other means, except in light, loose gravel or soil with a hula hoe.  Spraying spring weeds with glyphosate doesn’t kill them fast enough to stop seeding; usually they are already seeding by the time they are sprayed, so other chemicals fail to stop the next generation as well.  Cutting them only keeps them making seed below the cut.  Weed control is seed control; pull them before they make seed, and they won’t return to plague us next year.
Our city code forbids mature and seeding weeds.  Our City Charter demands that the Manager enforce all city codes, something that has not been done since probably the 1970’s.  Most of the weeds I showed you are fairly benign, not having burrs or tacks, nor flying on the wind.  But there are mature weeds seeding right now that are a distinct nuisance to neighbors, not just ugly and disorderly when seeded out.  These are the ones that should be enforced against first.  They are easiest to kill just before they become irritating or dangerous, as they flower.
 Groundsel and bitter cress in full bloom, in nugget bark on weed cloth

Young groundsel in nugget bark and shavings on weed cloth
For instance, there is groundsel, flying on the wind all over town.  It is an ugly miniature wild lettuce whose flowers never open completely, but nod half-opened until they make seed, when they straighten up and let it fly.  They have been spreading like crazy all over town the last two years.  They are easily pulled from soft soil.

Heron's bill on city property, NE corner of Brownell and Spruce

The other day, I saw a yard that was covered in nice nugget bark inside its chain-link fence, and covered with heron’s bill a foot high outside that fence along the street, gone to seed, not yet ripe.  Heron’s bill has seed pods shaped like the name until they ripen; then they split into two sharp burr seeds that catch in your pet’s fur and can drill themselves into its skin when they get wet.  It is easy to pull when the ground is moist.  This weed is all over town in neglected yards and portions of yards that the owners disown.

A portion of the entrance median at Reinhart Park where shrubs and ground covers still struggle amid the weeds.

The median in the entrance to the All Sports Park has been maintained by spraying for years, and it shows in the plentiful weeds there now, the missing ground cover and the missing bushes at the ends of the beds, killed out by fine bark and herbicide long ago.  It appears that none of your landscape contractors employ any weeders, despite their contracts and city code.
A closeup of the median with various weeds.

Leaves are the best defense against weeds, but your contractors generally clean up all the leaves and encourage weeds.  Now you need weeders to pull them.  Please start demanding that your contractors employ them.  And start telling our police to start policing and tell people maintain their properties to code.  It’s one law that can be enforced without a jail, if only you would ask us to obey it.  It will bring order to our city.

Rycke Brown, Natural Gardener    541-955-9040

An idea on which attention is peculiarly concentrated is an idea which tends to realize itself.~Charles Baudouin

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