Tag: weed science

Weed ID Books: A Review

In honor of National Invasive Species Awareness Week, my next plant id book review will focus on weed identification. An obviously important part of becoming more “weed aware” is to know the names of the weeds you are looking at. Once you know the name of the weed then you can start figuring out what to do about it.

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Are the weeds really that bad?

Once again, I’m using some of my grandparents’ garden space this year. Only this time instead of flowers, I’m growing: tomatoes, onions, peppers, eggplant, cantaloupe, and a cucumber. It was only going to be a “small” garden this year. And, compared to my grandpa’s side, I guess it is.

Also, compared to my grandpa’s side, it is a disaster. I planted it, watered it, weeded it once, and then left town for work. When I got back – and finally got around to going out to check on my little plants – the weeds had completely taken over my little section.

Now, as a weed science research technician, I spend a lot of time thinking about weeds, working with weeds, and killing weeds. I appreciate them. I love to hate them. But with all of that, you’d think I could keep my garden weed-free. At work we like to joke that if you’d like to find an abundance of weeds, just go to the house of a weed scientist. Unfortunately, in this case, it is all too true.

It’s not that I don’t understand the importance of maintaining a weed free garden – believe me, I do – it’s just that I’m really good at coming up with excuses this summer for why I haven’t been out to weed.

Like: it’s hot. And, I’m pregnant. I think those two cover it.

But, I’m here to tell you to not be like me! Not only do they make a garden look messy, but here are a few more reasons for why the weeds really are that bad:

  • they compete with your crops for water, nutrients, sunlight, and space (and crops like my poor onions are pretty poor competitors) which can lead to reduced harvests
  • they can harbor diseases that can then spread to your crops
  • they can harbor insects that can then move on to chew up your crops
  • they are notoriously good seed producers – and will just keep perpetuating themselves if left unchecked

So, even though it’s hot, and even though I’m pregnant, I will get out there more often (if even only ever so slightly) to keep my vegetable garden happy and the weeds at bay.

Herbicide Labels (and why you should read them)

As an instructor of a college lab course in weed biology and management I am repeatedly astounded (and annoyed) by the lack of instruction-following exhibited by the students. Most of the experiments and activities we do in the lab are fairly simple and only demonstrative in nature, but the order of operations for each activity is generally a necessary part of seeing the correct results. The ability to read and follow instructions is therefore an important skill. Yet every year, in each class, there is at least one group who doesn’t take the time to read through the protocol before beginning and ends up having a lot of questions, or questionable results, in the end.

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Where I’ve Been

Wow. I’ve been neglecting this little space here for the last month and a half. For the handful of you who actually read this, I apologize. I haven’t forgotten it, or given it up. And I definitely haven’t run out of plant-related topics to talk about. Somehow, life – my professional weed science researcher life – has been a bit busy. Continue reading

DIY: Dyeing with Dyer’s Woad

A few weeks ago my sister texted me a photo of an announcement about a “Dyeing with Dyer’s Woad” workshop presented by a local arts group.  Obviously this was something I was definitely interested in.  Not because I dye fabric on a regular basis, or because I consider myself a really artsy person, but because it dealt with a weed.  A weed I frequently get asked about.   Continue reading

Weed Science. Wait, what kind of science?

In my real life I work at Utah State University in the weed science research group.  When I would tell people I was getting a degree in weed science, or even now when I tell people I work in weed science the conversation generally goes like this:  Continue reading