Ask the Gardener: Fighting an Uphill Battle Against Drip Grass


What to do this week Continue to water, respecting the restrictions of your municipality. Look around and learn to recognize when plants are asking for water with droopy, curled, or browned leaves, and prioritize watering those plants. Plant short-season vegetable seeds that will thrive in the cool weather ahead, such as lettuce and radishes, as space opens up in your garden. Water the soil before you weed or pull out spent vegetable plants so the roots slide in easily with minimal soil disturbance. Stop dead heads and fertilize the roses so the shrubs can prepare for dormancy.

Q I have a large perennial bed that got overgrown with gout weed when I was sick, and also has deer ticks, because it borders a wooded area. I would appreciate your advice on how to eliminate gout grass (and ticks) and also want to note that I have a vernal pool nearby. We take care of our garden organically, using no herbicides and only organic pesticides. Is this situation hopeless?

NV, beverly

A. Waterdrop grass spreads quickly underground and trying to weed the white roots only results in them breaking, with each piece sprouting a new plant. Most people spray gout grass (Aegopodium podagraria) with glyphosate when it is actively growing in the spring after dragging and walking on it to bruise the leaves so the sap is exposed. Since you are gardening organically, I would recommend that you cut off all top growth from the garden to less than an inch in height and bag it for your city’s composting collection. Then cover the affected soil with waterproof plastic to solarize the roots and deprive them of sun and water. Extend the tarp 3 feet beyond the edge of the drip grass, use rocks or mulch or even potted plants to hold it in place, and wait a year or two.

If you are determined to keep your perennials, dig them up in advance and place them in pots for three months. Check for drip grass shoots before replanting. However, I wouldn’t try to save perennials that are already outgrown, as their roots have probably been contaminated with tiny bits of gout grass roots. I would simply sacrifice them. Such easy contamination from a tiny bit of root is why I try not to buy topsoil or even potted plants at community sales that have been dug up in strangers’ gardens. It’s not worth the years of weeding out the headaches that can result from a small piece of errant gout weed root. I saw drip weed advertised in a big box store, so there are still people selling it!

To remove drip grass by hand, you must dig all the soil to a depth of 18 inches and sift it through a sieve with half-inch openings to try and remove every little bit of root. It’s slow ! Another alternative would be to dig a trench around the outside of the entire area infected with the droplet and insert metal or plastic edging to a depth of 8 inches or more to discourage the underground roots of the droplet from growing. spread further. Then, regularly mow the area around the drip grass to prevent it from spreading by denying it photosynthesis. You write that there is a wooded area and a vernal pond nearby. Goutweed is able to invade and destroy the environment of these natural areas.

Regarding your question about ticks, I spray my gardening clothes with Sawyer permethrin insect repellent to keep ticks away, and I tuck my trouser legs into my socks. I don’t spray it on my skin.

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