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What's bugging you? June 8, 2016

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I am back after suffering through knee replacement surgery and physical therapy. Not that I am fully recovered nor without pain. But garden chores must go on. What has been disturbing is how fast weeds appear and how quickly grass can grow to two feet tall!

This column will cover a little bit of this and that. First let's address our Siberian Elms. While not my favorite tree, we do have a lot of them and they are tenacious survivors. After what appeared to be a record production of seed, these elms have been slow to leaf out. Never fear, they will fill out and look normal in a few weeks. An earlier sudden temperature drop may have been responsible for this delay.

If you live where junipers and pinions are prevalent then you may have been overwhelmed last year by all the tiger moth caterpillars crawling over your house, walks and driveway. This was not a simple localized infestation but an area-wide epizootic. I have received calls from several individuals who have sighted this insect this spring and worried we were in for another round of this pestilence. I, too, saw some around my yard, but I am not expecting a repeat of last year's problem.

Weeds are what are on my mind now. As you might expect, I am very behind in my weeding chores. And with a recovering knee it is difficult and tiring to weed for very long. First let's talk cheatgrass, also known as downy brome. It has already flowered and produced seed for next year's crop. While easy to pull up, I'd rather not have to. So to minimize having to weed next year, apply a pre-emerge herbicide, such as Preen, during the second half of August. Cheat grass seed germinates in late summer and early fall, not in the spring.

Having finished weeding my buffalo grass lawn, I was reminded of something I had noticed several years ago when I lived in Texas. Weeds in lawns are often associated with a rock underneath their crown. Remove these rocks and maybe you won't have as many lawn weeds.

Of course your neighbor's dandelion-infested lawn is another source of your weed problems. Maybe you can gently talk them into using a pre-emerge herbicide in the early spring or a post emergence herbicide once they appear, and before their seed blows all over your yard.

Another source of weeding headaches can be some of your prized plants. I can tell you from personal experience that cone flowers, blanket flowers, rabbitbrush, Plains Sage, Apache Plume, Russian Sage and even hummingbird mint are prolific seed producers. There are others of course. You can either not use plants that produce lots of volunteers, put down a pre-emerge herbicide in the spring, hand weed them or just let it go wild. Your choice!

Last but not least. I have plans of writing a series on weeds titled, "TEN MOST UNWANTED WEEDS" starting in the near future. These will be my selections but I realize other weeds could make the list if one wanted to expand the number to 20 or even 30. My intent is to include a picture, provide background information and then management strategies including herbicides and organic approaches with each weed column. If you have any suggestions, contact the DCI and they will forward your ideas to me.

Until next time, enjoy your time in the garden before the summer heat becomes a nuisance. Then think early morning or late afternoon. No sense making gardening too much of a chore.

Jim Leser retired to Cedaredge in 2007 after a career with Texas A&M University Extension in entomology. He is a member of the Cedaredge Tree Board and a Colorado Master Gardener.

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Jim Leser, What's Bugging You
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