Thursday, January 24, 2008

Damn Weeds!

Common Mallow and Dandelion

Within days after the early January rains, thousands of wildflowers began germinating in my garden. Unfortunately, so did tens of thousands of weeds. Eighty percent of the weeds are Common Mallow (Malva neglecta), 18 percent Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale). Tumbleweed (Salsola tragus) makes up the remaining two percent.

Common Mallow is hardest to deal with. If I don’t get it out while it’s still tiny, it grows an extremely long and tough taproot, making it almost impossible to pull. I have to resort to a hoe. That technique is tricky, because if I don’t get the weed below the surface soil, it will just come back up. When it becomes overwhelming, then out comes the herbicide Roundup®, much as I hate to use it. Last year I had a landscape maintenance crew over to deal with the weed issue, but they didn’t know the difference between Penstemon and Dandelion, and they destroyed most of my wildflower seedlings along with the weeds.

Common Mallow usually grows to about three feet high, but I’ve seen plants over five feet with a trunk-like stems that exceed 10 inches in diameter. When the weed gets this large, it has to be bull dozed or drowned in herbicide to get rid of it. This weed seems impervious to drought, heat, and cold once established, so it really flourishes in landscapes where water is available. I really detest this weed. It's hard to believe that some folks find it attractive and don't mind it in their gardens.

At least Dandelion is easy to pull up, and the leaves used in salads. The only redeeming value I can think of for the Tumbleweed is that it inspired that wonderful song, Tumbling Tumbleweeds, by the Sons of the Pioneers.

12 comments:

Mark said...

Hi Aiyana,
Would love to see the explosion of wildflowers, I bet it is a wondeerful sight.

Cheers Mark

Kylee said...

Oh those dandelions! I hate them in the garden, but I love to see a whole field of them. And I love seeing them along the roadsides. They just scream summer!

Pudgeduck said...

It's one of my favorite songs of old! I am having a problem distinguishing between the two also. I'm just pulling out everything!

nikkipolani said...

Oh that mallow is the worst, isn't it? I also have a pretty bad infestation of clover.

kate said...

It just seems so unfair sometimes that plants like Mallow and Dandelion grow as well here as they do there and yet have no redeeming features. I learned the hard way about Mallow. It is the most frustrating thing.

Julie said...

I don't think we have mallow here...at least not in my yard anyway. It looks horrid though. Do you use the dandelion in your cooking or salads? I believe it is listed as a "superfood". Do you get those big tumbleweeds blowing through your garden like you hear about out west??? LOL...I seriously am asking!!!
Julie

Ginni Dee said...

Why do weeds always thrive? I think God puts them there to keep us gardeners humble when we get too proud of our gardens. LOL

Curtis said...

I understand. We already have henbit rearing it's ugly head around here.

No Rain said...

The tumbleweeds coming up in my garden are the same tumbleweeds as seen in movies, etc. They dry, and since they have shallow roots, the wind picks them up and they tumble, droping millions of seeds along the way.
Mallow is not completely worthless--there is a substance in it that is used as a vegetarian substitute for rennet, which is a coagulating enzyme used in cheese production.
Dandelion is good in salads, but not tasty enough to have to spend hours pulling it up!
As soon as my wildflowers start blooming--probably in the next few weeks, I'll post some photos.

Jenn said...

So those are mallow, and they are weeds? Sigh.

Are the mallow invaders, too? Both the dandelion and the tumbleweed are invaders from Europe.

No Rain said...

Jenn,
Many of the Malva genus are native to Arizona, but various species of Malva are found all over the world. Cotton and okra are part of the Malvaceae family. Globe Mallow is a common wildflower here in Arizona, found in most wildflower mixes.

Some people call these plants cheeseweeds. Actually, cheeseweed is Malva parviflora, and is used as an herb. The Malva neglecta is the weed of the bunch, and spreads by seed, so it's important to get it up before any flowers appear on it. I just learned that Roundup is not effective on Malva neglecta, so now I have to go back to pulling! It's almost overwhelming at this point.

ceekay said...

Hey I looked up weed under your topics....question, we have this ground cover week that almost looks like a moss sort of. We cannot kill it, we use week killer on it, and it will turn brown, and it is almost impossible to pull out cuz it is everywhere...anyways, it just comes back to life and grows some more. It is really bad by the base of our trees. I know it is the water that is feeding it, but the trees are young and they need the water. Any suggestions??? Thanks so much!
Ceekay