In the Garden:
Middle South
February, 2001
Regional Report

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An old table fork is my secret weapon for giving henbit the heave-ho in my flower beds.

Winter Weeds

They're back and have been for several weeks, though you probably didn't notice them because they were so small. It's the weeds of winter - a talented group of wild things that really grow this time of year. Despite charming names like chickweed and henbit, winter weeds are so aggressive they create pandemonium with your pansies if you don't take steps to stop them.

Spreading Chickweed

If you have a cultivated vegetable bed, it's probably getting greener by the day thanks to chickweed. Chickweed is a sprawling weed that forms low mats over the ground and is studded with tiny white flowers that open on sunny days. Actually, chickweed is a good sign, because it usually appears in soil that is fertile and very rich in nitrogen. The bad news is that a robust chickweed plant can produce up to 15,000 seeds. Before that can happen, pull or hoe your chickweed into submission.



Henbit Anyone?

Henbit likes fertile soil, too, and if it weren't so aggressive, I might be tempted to keep it around as a spring wildflower. It is as common in lawns as in gardens and actually looks pretty - its rosy purple flowers also paint roadsides with color in late spring. Though it's sometimes called blink nettle, I like another common name, dead nettle, for the henbit that takes over areas where I've planted spring-flowering bulbs.

Wise Weeding

Pulling weeds from cold soil can make your fingers numb, so wear rubber gloves such as those doctors use, to keep your hands dry. When your beds are as clean as you can get them, fill in open places between plants with mulch, because more cool-season weeds will soon be showing up, including Carolina geranium and a fresh crop of dandelions.


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