Top

Weed Alert

October 31, 2008

Volume 1, Number 13

Inside this issue…

Weed Alert!

Bring on the Butterflies


Brighten up the Building


Hello Gardeners

What’s a weed? What one gardener considers a weed, another will cherish as a wildflower. Let’s just say that a weed is a plant growing in the wrong place at the wrong time and has territorial ambitions… meaning you have to take action. In this issue, we’ll tell you what kind of action to take.

Butterflies love nectar from flowers and most people love butterflies. By creating the right type of environment, you can get the butterflies to flit into your garden and prolong their stay at your premises. We’ll also tell you how to plant a butterfly-friendly garden using the right type of plant seeds.

And there’s nothing like a window box full of pretty flowers to brighten up the exterior of your home and complement the design of your garden. Even if you live in an apartment block and yearn to do a bit of gardening, a window box can be an enjoyable pastime – you can even plant annual and perennial seeds and take care of the plants as they grow. They’ll brighten up the urban landscape you see from your window, too.

Weed Alert!

Perhaps the best definition of a weed is any uninvited plant you find taking over your lawn and flower beds. While they can’t be completely stopped from making a takeover bid on your garden, there are measures you can take to keep the would-be-invaders under control.

Just like your plants, weeds fall into annual and perennial categories. “Know thy enemy” is important here, because recognizing the type of bad guy you’re dealing with will enable you to take effective control measures. Left to their own devices, weeds will soon take over your garden; they’ll greedily gobble up all the moisture and nutrients in the soil leaving your plants to starve and die, so it’s important to prevent them from gaining a foothold. However, weed control doesn’t have to be back-breaking and time-consuming; just ten minutes a week is sufficient to control the weeds in an average garden, and there are a number of simple ways to this.

As we’ve said before in this newsletter, mulch matters. There’s perhaps no better non-chemical weed control agent than mulch. Because both annual and perennial weeds like to take over bare patches of soil, a 1 to 3-inch layer of mulch composed of manure, leaves, bark chippings etc., spread over a black plastic sheet will stop the weeds from taking hold (they can’t germinate under the plastic). When you want to use the area to plant flower seeds, all you have to do is punch a hole in the plastic for the flower to grow.

Weeds in the Borders, Weeds in the Lawn…

Weed reach seedling stage very quickly and a weed seed can survive for years on almost nothing until the right growing conditions are present. Unless you want a flowerbed covered in dandelions and daisies, you’re going to have to come up with a combat strategy. Catch ‘em while they’re young is an excellent policy for combating annual weeds. Pulling up annual weeds in spring means many varieties will miss the growing season and therefore won’t germinate and go to seed; that’s why it’s so important to recognize the weed seedlings from the legitimate plants. However, if the weeds are already there, it’s best to try and pull them out root and all. Like something out of a horror movie, some weeds can grow back from any root fragments left in the soil and it just isn’t possible to dig it all up. If that’s the case, try painting the leaves of your weed with a herbicide gel. It’s better than spraying weed killer, which can damage your plants.

They Just Keep on Comin’

Perennial weeds are very hard to get rid of because they grow from rhizomes buried deep in the soil. They can even grow from bits of rhizome that you didn’t manage to dig up.

A good technique for getting rid of perennial weeds is to weaken them by constantly cutting off their leaves (which prevents them from producing photosynthesis), digging out the roots and then smothering them. By smothering, we mean covering the flower bed with black plastic, like with the mulch technique. And if all else fails, spray them with weed killer.

Bring on the Butterflies

Attracting butterflies to your garden is easy as long as you provide them with the right environment: shelter, food and water.

The key to getting butterflies to adopt your garden as their home is to plant brightly-colored, nectar-producing annuals and perennials. Butterflies love strong colored blossoms, and especially those that produce sweet nectar they can feed on. All shades of pinks and purples, oranges, reds and yellows will act like a butterfly magnet. When choosing perennial seeds, be sure to include plants that flower in sequence so that the butterflies have a source of food throughout the flowering season. A wildflower mix is an excellent choice, as are brightly colored coneflowers, zinnias, blanketflowers, coreopsis and hollyhock. If you’re lucky, they’ll attract hummingbirds too.

Since it’s the large clusters of brightly colored blooms that attract butterflies, some color coordination is needed when you are planting the seeds so that you get large blocks of color next to each other in the flower bed. You should also choose the sunniest spot in the garden — one that gets at least 5-6 hours of sun — because the adult butterflies love nothing better than to soak up nectar from a brightly colored bloom that’s drenched in sunlight. Butterflies need the warmth in order to “recharge their batteries” and get the strength to fly. If possible, place a few decorative heat-absorbing rocks close to the flowerbed to give the butterflies a warm place to rest on. Butterflies don’t drink from birdbaths or containers of water, so to provide them with a source of water you need to create little puddles of water in your garden for them to drink from and congregate around.

Most species of adult butterfly live for only ten to twenty days, so to have a constant butterfly presence in your garden you need to provide a source of food for the caterpillars that will eventually hatch out. Caterpillars eat plant leaves and they are capable of defoliating a plant so take that into account in your planning! Many plants that could be considered as weeds, such as dandelions, thistles and nettles provide excellent sources of food for caterpillars.

And a word of warning about using insecticides in the butterfly friendly garden – just say no!

Brighten up the building

The folks WindowBox.com have everything you need to plant a garden on your sill. Whether you want to brighten up the exterior of your home or are looking to give a special gift to a friend, they can help you choose the window box and plants to go with it. What’s more, their “Floracle” will help you pick out the right plants to suit your lifestyle and they are full of helpful advice and articles on gardening and growing plants.

Windowbox.com- Naturally Eco-Friendly! Click here!

You have received this newsletter from cheapseeds.com, a supplier of large packets of flower seeds for very little money.

Comments

Got something to say?