Sunday, April 07, 2013

I HATE HENBIT!


http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/WEEDS/henbit.html

 My yard has been taken over by henbit!  

Every spring, the old garden is full of henbit. It creeps in from the vacant house next door and takes over. Seen from a distance as you whiz down a country road, those perky little pinkish-purple flowers covering a farmer's fallow field can be enchanting. Having them in your raised beds and walks is a different story.

My landscape architect friend was telling me that the real time to fight henbit is in the fall when it's seeding. Too late for that right now, so I have to do it manually.  Plan A is to do a raised bed a day until I have it under control. Plan B is to try to curb it's growth with wheat straw mulch in my walkways. I've never seen anyone mulch walkways with straw. You see photos of cypress mulch or other bark, even gravel walks. Why not straw? The worst that can happen is I'll seed a bit of wheat to fight for growing room with the henbit. Wheat is a grass. I can mow it.


Today was the day. I grabbed gloves, wheelbarrow, a bucket and some tools and tackled the first bed. It was pretty bad. The henbit was so thick there was no clue what rested in that bed -- or if it had survived the winter.

The good thing about henbit is it has shallow roots and pulls easily. The ground is still moist and works easily, too, so I could grab handsful of the stuff and dump it into the tub. When the tub got full, I could empty it into the wheelbarrow and keep on going. I just had to watch out for the plants that belonged in the bed and not disturb them in my righteous frenzy to get rid of the hateful henbit.


Surprise! This is the strawberry bed!

It was a full afternoon project clearing this 4-12' bed. I completely filled the wheelbarrow with my gleanings. Ah! compost!!

I love strawberries. I've worked hard to keep this bed alive. A few years ago I had three 4' square beds of strawberries that were going crazy. I had strawberries to give away and my brother was happy to come pick his own. (He loves them as much as I do.) Then the first drought hit. I salvaged five plants. Last spring, I made this new bed. I added close to 40 more plants and trenched and watered and babied them through another drought. It wasn't enough. Only 1/3 of those survived. I haven't decided if I will add new plants to the bed this year, or encourage these plants to make daughters. 

These are Ozark Beauties. I can usually find plants locally to fill in the bed, but none of the places I've been have offered them yet. They have other strawberry varieties, but no Ozark Beauties. It may be mail order time again...

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