published Saturday, August 11th, 2012

Lea: Start fight against weeds at computer

Pat Lea

Q: The great rains have all my plants growing like mad but also the weeds, including things I've never seen. How can I treat them?

A: August may be the best month for weeds and, therefore, the worst month for gardeners who must deal with them.

Most weeds have rooted in sturdily, they are full and healthy, and their roots are almost impossible to pull. They are usually so strong at this point that weed killers make no impression. Worst of all, they are getting ready to set zillions of seeds loose on your property.

We can fight back with knowledge -- one of the gifts that humans have that plants may not. We also have the Internet.

The first order of business is to find out who these weeds are on your property. Don't worry if you don't know its Latin name or common name. Just check out the pictures from one of the following sources, and match them up. Then write down the name.

• Virginia Tech has an online weed identification guide at www.vt.edu/weedindex.htm, where you can find 600 species with good photos and descriptive info.

• Preen, the brand name for a weed prevention product, has a Weed ID tool that is relatively easy to use since it divides plants by grassy or broadleaf type. It also has a state-by-state feature that gives you info on weeds that are particularly prevalent in your state. You can find it at www.preen.com/weeds.

• The most comprehensive site involves buying an interactive DVD, "1,200 Weeds of the 48 States and Adjacent Canada." It costs $49.95 plus $5 for shipping. You can order it at xidservices.com/order.

Other helpful sites include:

http://njaes.rutgers.edu/weeds

http://weedid.missouri.edu

http://weeds.cropsci.illinois.edu/weedid.htm

The reason you want to identify your weeds properly is so that you can treat them effectively.

Most of your weeds should be in their mature state. They will exhibit the characteristics of their species, and you can find out exactly how to eliminate them.

Annual weeds will disappear over the winter, but they will distribute lots of seeds that will torment you next season.

Perennial weeds will be developing a deep root and getting ready to grow and expand over the winter. They will stay in place and get stronger.

Once you know exactly what and where your weeds are, you can create a program to get rid of them.

Email Pat Lea at lea.pat@gmail.com.

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