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Battling the Hairy Galinsoga

June 5, 2009 - Kathie Evanoff
The greenhouse garden has exploded the last two weeks.

The spinach bolted while we were on vacation so it was quickly pulled up and replaced with radish seeds, which sprouted in a mere four days from the time I first place them in their furrow.

Last year we put down black plastic in our four large vegetable garden beds to combat the horrible, Hairy Galinsoga; a weed I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. If you saw the photo in Wednesday’s Tribune of part of the potato patch, you saw the Galinsoga seedlings showing their ugly selves alongside the potato plants. They have since been cut down in their prime, and I am gleeful in writing that sentence.

Last year I found a new favorite garden tool. I don’t have a photo here, but will take one this weekend to show you next week. I don’t even remember its name, but that will come to me too. The tool is shaped like a V, is very sharp and has a long handle. I think short handled versions are available as well. A Master Gardener friend told me about this little work saver, and I’m all about saving work.

I hated the plastic. It wasn’t difficult to cut X-holes in the fabric and put our plants in the ground, but planting a row of seeds was a different story. We cut a long slit where the row was to go and folded the edges of the plastic under a bit so we could make a furrow. When the seeds germinated, they had to find their own way out from under the plastic, although we tried to keep the slit open to make it easier for them. Watering didn’t seem to be an issue, even with the plastic covering the soil, although I’m sure we weren’t the best conservationists as much of the water from the sprinkler likely ran off the plastic onto the edges of the garden, where it wasn’t needed.

This year, we’ve eliminated the plastic and went back to old-fashioned weeding, which brings me back to the V-shaped tool. Every three or four days, one of us will pick up the tool and scratch up the soil between the rows and beside the plants. The tool is narrow enough on it’s winged edges that we can get pretty close to the plant without shearing off the plant itself. A little bit of bend-over maintenance to get those weeds that were a little too close and the garden is week-free for a few more days.

Hairy Galinsoga germinates quickly and each plant is capable of producing tens of thousands of seeds – all of which are in my garden. The plant grows so quickly that if you aren’t diligent, before you know it it has flowered and set more seeds. The seeds can remain in the soil for many years and tilling and hoeing simply turn them up for easy germination. The eradication of this weed is not possible for the average weekend gardener. You have to be more aggressive than that.

That being said, here is a photo of the greenhouse raised bed garden. I will soon be pulling up all the lettuces (the three varieties in this bed are Black Seeded Simpson, a great green leafy variety; Romaine and Bibb. When I make a salad, I pick tender leaves from all three and mix them all together. I think they have done so well in the garden because our temperatures have been cool, especially at night. Once it begins to heat up, however, the lettuces will bolt quicker than you can imagine.

Check out these beet greens. The beets themselves are about the size of golf balls. When they get just a bit bigger, they will join the lettuces in my salads. I’m pleased with the growth of the greenhouse veggies, especially since this is just the first week of June and I have been eating from this garden for more than a month.

Finally, my breakfast this week has been the same every day and I’m not complaining. I have a bag of huge bagels to go through from Kravitz Deli in Liberty and I am the only person in the house who eats bagels. I stuck them in the freezer and allow my self a half bagel each morning with two tablespoons low-fat garden vegetable cream cheese. I add one scrambled egg for added protein and sometimes have fresh fruit, such as strawberries or a small banana. Sometimes I toss the fruit in my lunch bag and have it later. It’s all good.


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