Yup, it’s official… September 23rd is the first day of Fall! It really felt like fall a couple of weeks ago, nice cool crisp air, then someone kicked up the heat again. Yesterday afternoon it was back up to 100°F, but its expected to cool back down to about 90°F early next week. Our evenings have been really nice though, hovering around the low 70’s.
Since everything is drying up outside from the series of rainstorms we had a few weeks ago, one of the things that hubby and I have been working on here and there is our continuing assault on the beast weed. If you’ve been following my blog, you may remember I told you about this horrible weed in our backyard that’s been trying to encroach on our backyard orchard. This beast weed is called “Silverleaf Horsenettle” and it’s been a challenge trying to eradicate it from our property.
We’ve been trying to address this “issue” as naturally as possible, especially since it’s so close to some of our fruit trees. I will admit, that we used a tiny bit of Roundup on the leaves a while back, but it barely phased the darn thing. In a previous post about this weed, I mentioned that we were at a point where we felt we needed to try something stronger… conventional chemicals. Hubby did some research, chatted with the folks at Dow Chemical and he narrowed his choice to one product and purchased it. When we received the chemical in the mail, we left it in its sealed plastic wrapper and set it down in a high place so our little furry babies couldn’t get into it. It’s been a few weeks now and it’s still in the same place and same position.
Over those few weeks, hubby and I have had an ongoing discussion about the pros and cons of using the chemicals. We did some additional research regarding the effects and safety hazards and we both concluded it was not the best choice for us at this time. Being an absolute “chem-phobe”, I was elated at our decision to keep trying to find a less invasive approach.
During this time of discussion and research, we decided to let the beast weed grow a bit and to be diligent about trimming off any emerging flower buds. In the photo below, you can see the cut I made to remove the flower buds.
If you look closely at the photo, you can see wicked sharp spikes spaced out along the vein of each leaf. In the center, just below the cut, you can see a cluster of these painful reddish-orange spikes. These spikes run all along the stems and are more concentrated along the main stem.
In addition to removing the flower buds, I decided to cut off some of the new emerging leaf clusters. A few days after doing this, we noticed the plant seemed to wilt a bit and looked like it was struggling. Then the rain came a couple of weeks ago and seemed to give renewed life to the weed.
It took about a week for the soil to dry up enough for us to walk on (it was really muddy in the backyard), then hubby tried a new approach. As in the past, he dug around the weed to carefully expose the roots, but this time he decided to go deeper with his digging. Note: In the photo below, you can see the beast weed growing in multiple locations next to and just to the left of the fruit tree in the upper right corner. Seven in total. Eight, if you count the one directly in front of my hubby.
As he dug down, he carefully removed the dirt to expose the roots. As he encountered anything that looked like a broken piece of root (even an old piece), he picked it out and threw it away (trying to avoid a new plant from emerging from the broken piece of root).
After exposing the roots, hubby dug down a bit further (to about 12″ deep total) until he reached a point where the main root branched off into a 2nd main root. Then, he cut off and disposed of the main plant part and left about 4″-5″ of the main root exposed above the soil. A couple of days later, I came back and tried something new… I poured boiling hot water on the exposed root. The exposed part of the root shriveled and its color turned from a whitish-beige to a dark brown. Now I’m curious to see if the root was impacted in any way below the soil line.
By the way, after all of the rain we just had, other types of weeds are starting to pop up everywhere, again. I took my boiling water and poured it on several of them. They instantly wilted and when I returned about 15 minutes later, the new weeds were caput! Worked like a charm. It even took care of some of the ants that were living amongst the weed’s roots. Oh, it’s the simple things that brings joy to a gardener.
Back to my story… later this week, hubby plans to continue his digging quest to see how far he can follow the roots. The ideal situation would be, he’d reach the bottom of the root and fully eradicate the weed from this area of the orchard. Will be interesting to see how far we get. Doing this is a lot of hard work, but what’s the alternative? Nasty harsh chemicals that can stay in the soil for over a year? If we did this, we’d have no choice but to remove a couple of our fruit trees and dispose of them until the soil was safe to plant in again 😦
And of course, admidst the assault on the beast weed, Pinny decided she would bring along a bit of cheer to the troops. Nothing’s better than a good game of kickball to relieve tension and battle fatigue.
Well, gotta move on to other things. Be nice to yourself today… do something you love.
The Artistic Desert Gardener