Gardening tips for January

identify-weeds-gardenBy Shirley D. Smith

Somervell County Master Gardener

Have you been outside lately? Well, do so and look at the ground. Unwanted plants (i.e. weeds) are coming up everywhere – especially where you don’t want them!

Well, here are a few ideas to help with that problem.

Layers of newspaper are a good way to cover areas where you don’t want weeds. But another is using some of that cardboard you now have after Christmas. Just cut the cardboard into the shape you need and lay it down. Now cover it with a layer (2”-4”) of mulch. Cardboard tends to last longer than the newspaper so you are spared at least one garden chore.

Another way to get rid of weeds is to spray them with 20 percent vinegar. This is not your grocery store vinegar. The white vinegar that I have here at home is 4 percent and my apple cider vinegar is 5 percent. The 20 percent vinegar can be bought at most places that sell organic gardening products.

Spray the weeds in the morning and wait for the sun to do its work. By that evening the weeds should show definite signs of wilting. Not sure how well it will work in cold weather, but on a hot summer day it works wonderfully. Be careful when using it, however, because it can and will burn your skin, eyes and nose. I have used it for years with no problems because I am aware of how strong it is and am very careful!

If you are a dedicated to using only organic methods to rid your area of weeds, then try boiling water. This works especially well when the weeds are firmly settled into cracks in sidewalks, stone walks or a flagstone patio. Just DON’T do this to poison oak or poison ivy because you can get an allergic reaction from the oils in the steam!

And speaking of poison ivy, it won’t be long before the weather is warm enough for that noxious plant to show itself. One of the best ways of ridding your place of poison ivy is to use a goat (yours or borrowed). Goats are browsers and would rather eat brush than grass. They strip bark from shrubs, eat twigs, and reduce fire hazards by chomping their way through overgrown weeds. However, you might want to fence off any trees, bushes, and plants where you don’t want the goats to go, then let ‘em at it.

Enjoy your “down time” because it won’t be long before spring will be here — and all gardeners know what that means!

Reprinted from the Somervell County Master Gardners “The Green Piece” Newsletter

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