Friday, July 3, 2009

Water and Weeds

Resources for learning about hard and soft water:

While we're talking about water, here's a discussion about bottled water, tap water, and filtered water.

Some people who use filtered water do so in order to take out chemicals such as flouride and chorine. So that the water will not be completely depleted of healthful chemicals, such as magnesium and calcius, they then add mineral drops to put these helpful minerals back into the water. I've never tried this, so someone who has might want to leave a comment with information about this.

Gardening: Weeds

It's half-way through summer, and, by now, you've probably done battle with seasonal weeds. Even if you don't have a garden, you probably have plucked a few weeds in your landscape beds, containers, or other spots.

Loosely speaking, a weed is simply a plant that is growing where it is not wanted and where it was not intentionally planted. Thus, grass is a desirable plant in your lawn, but a weed when it sprouts in your flower bed. Of course, there are plants that are generally labeled as weeds, such as dandelions or thistles or crabgrass. Even these, however, have acquired their weedy reputation because they commonly encroach in areas where they are considered to be undesirable.

While you might not be happy to see a certain plant taking root in your garden or yard or field, you might find that it serves a beneficial purpose. For one thing, weeds are a good indicator of the type of soil you have. Certain weeds appear when there are particular deficiencies in the soil, when there are certain PH levels, levels of salinity, etc. Also, weeds can actually add minerals and trace elements to soil which has been depleted. Weeds send down deep roots, and, through soil capillary, they can enable domesticated plants to endur drought better than they could alone. Weeds can also prevent erosion and depletion of minerals in soil that is not covered with grass or purposeful garden plants. Some plants that are typically regarded as weeds can be used for food both for people and for livestock.

And, by happy chance, you might find that you enjoy the look of a wildflower that has found its way to your corner of the world. You might also enjoy the fruit of a weed. I knew a family who found a watermelon plant growing in their yard after they had cut and eaten a seeded watermelon outdoors. While it wasn't planted deliberately, it produced another watermelon. The plant -- though it might be considered a weed by the definition above -- provided some fun for the family, as well as a tasty treat.

Having said all of that, it's obvious that weed control is necessary for maintaining a planted field, a garden, or a yard. When allowed to proliferate, weeds choke out more delicate domestic plants. They can ruin the look of a pretty flower bed or garden, as well.

Of course, there are many strong synthetic chemical solutions designed to control weeds. However, most of us either want to reduce the need to use such strong sprays and granules or eliminate the need for them entirely.

Two common methods of eliminating weeds naturally are to use mulch or to lay down plastic or other weed resistant materials. If the plastic is layered underneath the soil, holes allow the desired plants to grow, while the plastic smothers weeds. There are also organic sprays and solutions, as well.

Of course, there are always the methods that Great Grandmother used, such as using a gardening hoe or a Dutch fork.

For more specific information abou weed control, check out the following.

Managing weeds with a light touch
Organic weed control
Weed control
What do your weeds say?

Happy Home Keeping!

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