Saturday, October 13, 2012

Never ending story

Spring might be a time when everything I want to see growing quickly is belting along as hoped for, but the sad fact is that all the plants which I'd be delighted to see keeling over are some of the healthiest, most vigorous things out there. They're the weeds, the rotten things.

I'm an early riser, and like to spend a bit of time every morning checking on the garden, but that pleasant little ramble often turns into me pulling out more weeds. It's a never-ending chore, and while I hate the weeds in one way I do have a grudging admiration for their tenacity and survival smarts. 

This isn't a new photo, but as it's the Mother of All
Onion Weeds ever dug up from my garden, I'll use it
again, as it shows what we're up against. Not just one
weed but Mum and a few dozen kiddies.
Dig Mum out of the ground and dozens of bulblets
quickly jesttison from the Mother Ship, staying behind
in the soil, ready to start up another colony. 

Now, the truly despicable thing about onion weed is that the bulbs don't all sprout at once. If, for example, there are 100 bulbs in a given patch of soil, you won't see all 100 come up at once. Instead, they come up in dribs and drabs over all four seasons. What a sneaky trick!

I'm not a fan of using weedkillers such as glyphosate sprays (Zero, Roundup) in any food-producing garden bed, so I still soldier on digging out onion weed. When I spot a plant I dig deep, taking up not just the weed and its bulb, but a good-sized clump of soil around it. It's not a perfect method and a few do come back up, but not so energetically as before. When digging over all the different garden beds for this recent revamp, dozens and dozens and dozens of onion weed civilisations fell... and yet they're still coming back now, if not as strong as before. As I said, never ending story.

The other major pest here is oxalis, both
the type with bulbs at the base...

...and the multi-branching types with
the super-long taproots. Both are truly
despicable weeds which have a
permanent lease over my garden. 

I think I am actually slowly breeding up a new and nastier uber-oxalis over time. I've noticed that the light green oxalis pictured here, which is fairly easy to see, is becoming outnumbered by a darker-leaved type which is much harder to see. I must be leaving that dark-leaved one behind more often as I weed my way around the place. Serves me right, I should just let this easy-to-spot light green oxalis take over the garden and count myself lucky!

I really could turn my garden into a weed display village in fact, despite my diligence with the weeding fork every morning. Yes, we also have some superb little displays of tradescantia (wandering jew), pellitory (asthma weed), dandelions, chick weed clusters, plus several other little low-growing horrors which colonise cracks in paving and spread from there. Don't know all their names, unfortunately.

All I can do is pull 'em out when I see them, and keep on pulling them out. It's a never-ending story.


The Gumboot Greener said...

I thought cutting the heads off Oxalis finally exhausts the bulbs?

Jamie said...

Only some types of oxalis grow from bulbs (the pink-flowered kind, most commonly here in Sydney) but even then I've found that you'd need to remove the head off the plants time and again before the bulbs get exhausted. That's the never ending story bit. I prefer to dig up the bulb and some soil around it, where possible.

And as for the equally common creeping types of oxalis, it has a deep taproot but no bulb. It's just hard to get rid of because you never get rid of all of it. Some seeds remain behind, so too some of the plant.

Lithopsland said...

Hi Jamie, with all due respect, I sense your anger & pain. I hate weeding too & you're right it's a never ending story! I found this info on 10 homemade weed killers that might help ( Boil them, salt them, vinegar them, torch them (Yikes!) are some of the options. Although, weed-pulling can be quite zen..

dirtgirl said...

Agree Jamie. Gardening friend and I were just discussing the Spring growth and both came to the same conclusion that weeds are definitely winning the race, especially after all this much needed rain here in Sydney. We too use the 'dig deep, remove soil and bulbs carefully' method for the onion weed.
I remember reading somewhere that it can take 25 yrs to rid your garden of this weed. Sadly I'll be down there with them by that time! However in the meantime I will just keep digging them up and cursing them.
Happy Gardening......

Northern Shade said...

I don't think we have onion weed here, but I can see how persistent it would be with all of those little bulblets ready to spring into action.

Lanie at Edible Urban Garden said...

Oxalis is a big problem here too Jamie. Strangely, I don't have onion weed. I agree that Oxalis never really goes away. My other big problems are wandering yew and morning glory.

Catherine said...

I'm finding exactly the same thing with the oxails colour - it used to be mostly mid-dark green but over the past year or so, I'm finding that most oxalis is now a dark purplish-brown colour. So much harder to see among the mulch. Until it seeds everywhere....
I'm glad you mentioned that as I thought I was imagining it.

Jamie said...

Catherine, I'm also glad that I'm not the only one imagining it!

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