Monday, June 1, 2015

The Never Ending Battle

That's not actually a photo of our yard, but in a couple spots it's not far from the truth.

I know dandelions are beneficial: good for the bees, the roots loosen soil and bring nutrients to surface, the leaves can be used in salad, and I've recently learned the roots can be roasted as coffee substitute. But I don't want an entire lawn of them. And I don't want to use chemicals, as tempting as that may be.

I've accepted that they are part of our mowed meadow (some may call it a lawn with weeds), but that doesn't mean I have to live with every single one of the multiplying monsters.

Every year I make an effort to combat them. That effort lasts with great intensity for about a day. This year will be different. This year I'm pacing myself and using three different techniques to try to not just hold them at bay, but actually kill them back to give the grass a fighting chance.

My efforts will include:

1. Digging them up: This is by far requires the most energy, but is the most successful. After a good rain the soil is loose and giving. A little wiggle with a pitchfork and a good chunk of the dandelion and its root pop right out. Sometimes even the whole root comes. I know the goal is to get the entire root because any bit left behind will grow again. But I figure I've at least given that dandelion a good punch in the face and it will have to work hard to get to where it was. Over the last couple of days I've dug up maybe half of our dandelions. If I can commit to an hour or so a day for the next couple of days, I will have made a big dent in our current crop.

2. Picking off all the green to the root: This is far easier than digging them up. It's not an immediate fix to the problem, but I read the other day that by picking off all the green to the root, there's then no foliage feeding the root and the root needs to work at replenishing all that green foliage. After about 3 pickings, the root has exhausted its reserves. I've never tried this before, but over the last few days as I got tired of digging up the dandelions I yanked off some green. I should be able to keep this up over the summer.

3. Vinegar: I have tried using vinegar in the past with varying degrees of success. I've used vinegar alone, vinegar with dish soap, and vinegar with dish soap and salt. The most effective included the dish soap and salt, but it wasn't fantastically successful, and I didn't like the idea of adding salt to the soil.

Then I read that I should try 25% concentrated vinegar rather than the regular 5% kitchen vinegar. Earth's General Store in Edmonton sells the 25% concentrated vinegar. With a bit of dish soap and a few hot dry days, the thirsty root should drink it up. If I can hit a period where it stays hot and dry a couple more days, the root should be dead. I'm heading to the Earth's General Store tomorrow to pick up a bottle of the concentrated vinegar, and then I'm going to sit back and wait for a few hot dry days. Zipping around the yard with a squirt bottle spraying what's left will be incredibly easy and I hope satisfying.

I do know that battle won't end here. The plants are to be admired for their tenacity, and those little seeds are mobile and efficient. I will never win the battle, but I do look forward to the day when I don't look out upon a sea of yellow in our backyard.

1 comment:

  1. Good luck! It seems that dandelions are everywhere, EVERYWHERE, this summer since the City stopped its weed control measures against them.