There is nothing I can say, this month, that can top the incredible window displays that IXIA, in San Francisco, creates. A former floral designer for IXIA, David Mulkey will be our guest speaker this month. When checking out the window displays at their website http://www.ixia.com/the-windows/ I was blown away.
So I will concentrate on ‘weeds’ this month and not even try to compete with the amazing window displays! My working definition of a ‘weed’ is “a plant in the wrong place”. With all the rain, for which I am so grateful, not only have our intentional plantings thrived, but so have our weeds. The oxalis—called ‘sour grass’ when I was a kid munching on the flower stems in neighboring gardens—has been rampant in my Berkeley garden for the last month! Next comes the scarlet pimpernel (got to love the name, if not the weed), snap weed, the annual grasses, wild onions, with the dandelions not far behind.
Sure, some of them, like the sour grass, miner’s lettuce and perslane are edible and even make their way on to fine restaurant menus. There are even two wonderful books on foraging our ‘weeds’: The Bay Area Forager, by Mia Andler and Kevin Feinstein, and California Foraging by Judith Larner Lowry. The foraging possibilities will be abundant this spring!
But back to the unwanted ‘weeds’. I think the best way to eliminate them are pulling them out as soon as you can: the smaller the weed, the easier to pull out. And if you can get them before they set seed, you’ve eliminated the next generation of that weed. If you don’t have a Hori Hori garden knife, get one! It is the best, strongest ally you have for digging weeds out of the dirt. (Found at local nurseries and Hida Tools on San Pablo near Gilman in Berkeley.)
After the back-breaking weeding, apply a 3-4” layer of mulch on the bare ground. Seeds need light to germinate, so if they have to work their way through layers of mulch, many will not. Not only will mulch cut down on the weed population, as it decomposes over the years, it will enrich and improve the structure of our heavy clay soil. By improving the soil structure, you are improving root penetration of your existing plants so they can access soil moisture and nutrients more easily.
This month’s drawing will be for a Hori Hori garden knife—you’ll never want to work in the garden without it.