By Peter Punzi
Q. What is the best way to get rid of shot weed? Marian Frost – Steilacoom
A. This is the time of year when gardeners get very upset with shotweed. It is a shortlived phenomenon and we soon forget how this weed sneaks up on us during the winter (it starts growing in January) because when the warmer weather comes it has faded into the background (lurking in your soil as seeds). For those not familiar with shotweed it is a prolific seeder that produces several elongated pods that eject their seed when the pods are ripe (shotweed image). I even was “shot” in the eye when pulling out a plant with a mature pod. They are related to watercress (one of the earliest salad crops) and are edible. As I mentioned they prefer cool weather and in my garden only show up in very cool shady spots during the summer.
I try to control this weed mechanically by cultivating and pulling them as early as possible. Mulching the soil after the seed season will bury the tiny seeds deep enough that they will not germinate unless brought back to the surface through tilling. Herbicides would be my last choice for many reasons including the fact that most that will control shotweed will also impact your landscape plants as well.
I get a lot of shotweed in gravel pathways. I am going to try a new method to control shotweed this year. I just ordered a weed torch and I will try flaming the buggers. The good thing about the weed torch is that it not only kills the plants but the dormant seeds as well. I’ll let you all know how my weed torch does on these and other weeds.
Peter Punzi – Horticulture Guy is a Garden Communicator, garden consultant, coach and online garden shop owner.