I Hate Weeds!
By Ted Kennedy
Our rainy spring weather has brought on weeds, weeds and more weeds. My personal strategy on weeding is to attack
them at their most vulnerable growing stage and that is when they first sprout. I use a scuffle hoe a.k.a. a hula hoe or
stirrup hoe. Essentially it is just a knife blade formed into a stirrup shape and attached to a wooden handle. I want to
slide the hoe no more than a half an inch into the soil and slice off the weeds with long sweeping motions much like
mopping a floor. If you can weed your dahlia patch before you see any weeds sprouting, you will make the weeding job
much easier. I like to weed about one week after planting time and follow up again the next week. If one is able to do
these two and better yet three weedings on schedule, the rest of the year will go much better.
But the reality of the situation for many of us is that the rain has prevented us from getting these weedings done on
schedule and the weeds have gotten ahead of us. My worst weeds are weed grasses. I used horse manure to amend
my soil and I will forever have a problem with weed grasses. They seem to be different than turf gasses in that they love
hot weather and grow as tall as 4 feet if left alone. If I follow my early weeding procedure above and cultivate the soil
before the grass seeds sprout or just after they sprout, they are easily controlled. But after the grass grows to about 3
or 4 inches tall, it is very difficult to use a hoe to kill grass effectively as it will re-root easily. One last ditch alternative for
me, has been selective herbicides. There is a class of weed killers that kills only grasses and does not affect broadleaf
plants such as dahlias. I have used them with some good success. I have noticed that grass herbicides are most
effective when used before the grass gets too tall. It also takes a week or so before you will see the grass affected by
More information on weeds:
I’ve had a major problem with Purslane this year. Bob Romano, one of the fellow dahlia-netters offered this solution.
“Years ago I was so overrun with purslane I was about to give up growing dahlias, here's is my solution.
Step 1, in the spring, 4 weeks before planting, spray the entire garden with Roundup, killing all weeds.
Step 2, just before planting or even just after, treat the entire garden with a pre-emergent such as Dacthal, Surflan or
Treflan – watering thouroughly.
I prefer Dacthal, you can spray right on top of the dahlias and it won't hurt them, it won't hurt any plant that's already an
inch or two tall.
Step 3 during the growing season, spot treat any weeds with the 24 hour weed killer containing DIQUAT. If you get a
little on the dahlia leaves,
it will just make brown spots, it won't kill the plant. DIQUAT "burns" off the foliage, it doesn't kill the roots, although some
times it's mixed with a grass
killer that does kill the roots of grasses.
And viola' no more weeds, growing dahlias is much for fun for me “...