Spring weeds are now appearing

Spring weeds are now appearing

It has been quite a while since I’ve posted any articles, but this is a time that we need to get outside and check out what is coming up in our lawns and garden beds. We might have weeds we need to address, either from a removal standpoint or possibly a usage consideration.

Driving down the highway and gazing the harvested fields we can’t ignore the beautiful pink to purple carpet of henbit (Lamium amplexicaule) and dead nettle (Lamium purpurea). Likely some of those two mints have probably found their way into our lawn and beds, too. If so, they should be addressed before they go to seed.

From a foraging standpoint, both are edible but not among my favorites, especially if they have begun to bloom. If you are interested in removing them, they are easy to control with most broadleaf herbicides. If they don’t really bother you to that extent or you prefer not to use chemicals, these two square stemmed devils will disappear as soon as summer approaches.

Common chickweed (Stellaria media) and hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) are winter annuals that have been showing themselves more lately. Both are excellent foraging greens for both fresh and cooked use if harvested before they begin to flower. They are among my favorites. Once they bloom, they are easier to spot but their flavor suffers. As with most winter annual and early spring weeds, warm weather will hasten their departure from your landscape.

Another spring weed just beginning to emerge is sow thistle (Sonchus sp.). It makes a great salad green when consumed young. It is crunchy and mild tasting. For you potential foragers out there, pay close attention as aphids like it too. Eating aphids certainly won’t hurt you, but the tough is not especially appetizing. This is another weed that is easily vanquished by most broadleaf herbicides. Mowing works well also.

Field garlic (Allium vineale) has probably adorned most lawns for much of the winter. Many folks don’t realize it is edible, but it is. Both the bulbs and the tops can be eaten. I usually don’t mess with the bulbs, as they are tedious to clean. Processing the foliage requires less work. It is easy to dry them for storage too. Once dried they can be cut up and placed in airtight containers in a cool dark place.

If elimination from the landscape is your goal, this one is a little more difficult to control. I’ve found that repeat treatments of a mixture of 2,4-D, dicamba, and MCPP will control most Alliums in your lawn. For landscape beds it is safer to dig them out.

Another weed showing its head right now is buttercup (Ranunculus sp.). This one has no foraging value. It contains antimicrobial compounds; hence some herbalists use it medicinally, but this is one weed that is pretty but should be eliminated if possible. Buttercups are toxic to livestock, pets, and children.

These are just a few I noticed in my yard this morning. I’ll discuss a few more later.

purple deadnettle
purple dead nettle
Florida Betony above and common chickweed below
bittercress - just the right size
Bittercress – just the right size
young sow thistle plants
Field garlic in dormant turf
Buttercups starting to bloom

About tedmanzer

I grew up in Old Town Maine and got a B.S. at the University of Maine in Plant Sciences/ minor in Botany. From there I moved to West Virginia and earned a M.S. in Agronomy at WVU. I also met my wife there. She grew up in rural WV as the daughter of tenant farmers who raised cattle and hogs. Their lifestyle at times was one of subsistence and I learned a lot from them. I've always been a foraging buff, but combining my formal botanical knowledge with their practical 'Foxfire-type' background opened up my eyes a little more. I recently retired from teaching high school agriculture after 25 years teaching with my wife. Until recently I wrote a weekly nature/foraging column for the local paper (dailyadvance.com). I also have written several Christian nature/adventure novels that can be purchased on Amazon in Kindle format. One is a five book family saga I call the 'Forgotten Virtues' series. In the first book, Never Alone (presently out of print), a young boy comes of age after his father dies in a plane crash, and he has to make it alone. The second book, Strange Courage, takes Carl from his High School graduation to his recovery from a nasty divorce. The third book, Second Chances, takes Carl from his ex-wife's death and the custody of his son to his heroic death at age 59. The fourth book, Promises Kept, depicts how his grandchildren react and adjust to his death (this one is not yet published). In the final book, Grandfather's Way, his youngest and most timid granddaughter emerges from the shadow of her overachieving family and accomplishes more in four months than most do in a lifetime. I use many foraging references with a lot of the plants I profile in these articles in those books. I also wrote a romance novel titled Virginia. It is available on Amazon and is a different type of romance from a man's perspective.
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6 Responses to Spring weeds are now appearing

  1. Terry C. Weeks says:

    How bout sand spur, are they‘greening’ now?

  2. Clint Midkiff says:

    My 24d can said 60-85 was optimal temp fo sorting. You recommend waiting for 60 degrees or any warm day? what are you going to be growing for sale?

    • tedmanzer says:

      You do want to pick a warm day, that’s true. As far as the greenhouse goes, we’ve got a pretty good mix of annuals, perennials, and succulents. We will also have shrubs and the ability to procure more.

  3. tonytomeo says:

    Ha! This just may be the topic for my garden column next week.

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