They slip by on sheer attitude
Some problems have no solution. All we can do is to share the
pain and ease it a bit with laughter. For instance, whyizzit
...weeds are the plants that look best each spring among all the
things I can no longer name? They absolutely give off vibes like
'of course I belong here'!
More about garlic mustard
What's Coming Up #39
Grin and bear it!
And consider that it might be a plant worth keeping if...
...when you pull it up you see potting soil on its roots.
...there are several of them, equal in size and spaced to form a
neat row or triangle.
...it has a ring of seedlings around it that germinated in the
soil you disturbed when planting.
Call it a weed if...
...there are seed leaves plus true leaves (so you know it's a seedling) and there are
hundreds of them.
...it's growing where you don't want something to grow, such as
within the eventual spread of a known desirable plant. No matter
whether it's a volunteer seedling or sucker from another desirable
plant, or a "true" weed, those little guys in spring turn into big
competition that can warp and suppress your desirable plants.
Okay, so if you're going to be a softie about this...
If there are a lot of any given seedling, thin them out. What remains will be
healthier, and more quickly recognizable as they grow.
Establish a "no man's land" around every known desirable plant
-- no other plants there, just mulch. This, because so often we
figure "I can let that stay awhile" in what looks like bare space
in spring. Yet that ground rightfully belongs to your good plants
which will expand as they grow.
distinguish between new seedling and returning perennial
How to know it's a seedling? Look for a big difference between
the oldest two leaves and all newer leaves. Seedlings emerge with
"seed leaves" and then begin to produce true leaves.
Below: We know it's a seedling by the difference between
first/lowest leaf shape andthe shape of those grown afterward. What
we couldn't have figured by its smooth-edge oval seed leaves the
true leaves are revealing: "Argh, it's giant ragweed!"
firm in dealing with seedlings you leave in place
If you're thinning seedlings, stop being so tentative and
worrying about whether they will make it. Watch how little effect
it had on deliberately sown love in a mist seedlings (Nigella
damescena) to have good sized tall rocket weeds and blackeyed
Susan volunteers yanked out from their midst.
Below: First, do you see the weeds?
Above, right, that's tall rocket in the center, and here and
there the broad oval, deeply-veined leaves of blackeyed Susan. All
among the seedlings of love in a mist.
Tall rocket is a mustard family plant that's a "winter weed."
Plants in that category germinate in fall and increase in size
during every thaw so that they are not only well grown by early
spring but flowered and gone to seed before many gardeners get out
to tend a bed. Blackeyed Susan (Rudbeckia) is desirable
elsewhere in this garden but here as a volunteer seedling, it's a
Above left: The love in a mist right after weeding. Above
right: One week later. Time to thin them!
Thin those seedlings! Leave at least a hand's breadth between
seedlings. Even if half of them fail, those that are left will
still fill that space in no time and be healthier and more
attractive as a result.