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Get outside and help eradicate weeds at Evergreen Lake

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By Sylvia Brockner

I don’t know where the month of May went, but it just disappeared with the spring snow.

Now we are well into the month of June and the annual Community Weed Day is this coming Saturday, June 11.

This is a very special day, open to the public and one of the few things that is still free. Community Weed Day is held on Saturday from 8 to 11 a.m. in the park on the Lake House lawn. It is co-sponsored by Evergreen Audubon, the local Mount Evans chapter of the Sierra Club, the Evergreen Garden Club, and the Evergreen Park and Recreation District.

Breakfast-type snacks are usually provided. Bring your own water. A labeled display of the local weeds that are currently in bloom will give anyone a chance to identify the weed pests they may have in their yard or pasture. If you have weeds that are a problem, bring a good-sized sample, flowers, stems with leaves and root if possible, sealed in a plastic bag, for some weed experts will be on hand to help identify them as well as recommend the best method for control.

Our local weed control has been gaining momentum for over 20 years now, and we have become a poster child for the weed-control movement in the state. Our main cooperative effort is in controlling the weeds in the Evergreen Lake area.

This has been accomplished largely by Cathy Shelton’s leadership in establishing the “Adopt a Plot” for the area around the lake. The volunteers who adopt a plot promise to keep their small area as free of weeds as possible. Most weed three or four times a season, and it is amazing how well this has worked to keep the weed population under control.

If you want to help on Saturday, bring gloves, a spade or long-handled trowel and your own bottle of water, and sign up to help. If you want to adopt a plot of your own, please do so as there are still a few available.

We actually pull the weeds that we are able to remove, roots and all. Others, we just cut back the blooms so they are unable to set seeds to produce more plants next year. This is the most important weeding of the year because it gets the plants that have made rapid spring growth.

About three or four more weedings during the season seem to be enough to keep them under control. When pruning seed heads, but sure to hold them over a plastic bag so any ripe seeds won’t fall to the ground.

Weeds are difficult to identify at times, and Weed Day is always a good opportunity for me to learn more about weeds. New weeds always seem to creep into the area. When I first became worried about weeds some 30 years ago, I was foolish enough to think we could eliminate them. Now, a much humbler person, I realize we can only hope to keep them under control. We know this is a job that will never be finished but has become our life work.

There are several reasons that weeds are so difficult to eradicate. Weeds, like all plants, know their primary purpose is to produce seeds to make more plants to replace themselves. They do a very good job of this, producing many seeds, many of which are viable for many, many years.

They also have a bag of tricks that helps them accomplish their goal. Some weeds produce chemical compounds that more or less sterilize the soil so that nothing else can grow there. This prevents the weed from being crowded out by other plants and causes thousands of acres to be taken over by weeds.

A plant that has this quality is the wild sunflower. Wild sunflowers are a native plant and therefore are not considered weeds. At one time they grew over much of Kansas and now have all but disappeared from the state, although they are still the state flower.

Recently I read an article about sunflowers, which told about this chemical that deters other plants from growing. For years I had raked up the sunflower hulls beneath my bird feeders and used them as a mulch in my flower beds. I haven’t used hulls as mulch now for several years and have added quite a bit of humus to my bed so I hope they will be doing better this year.

Other weeds, such as smooth brome grass, just have such large firm root systems that nothing can compete with them for water and nourishment.

Come join everyone at the lake on Saturday, June 12, between 8 and 11 a.m. Let’s all learn more about weeds and why we should make the effort to control them. They not only destroy our native wildflowers, but some of them do other bad things like poisoning our livestock. Come and help pull. Bring your weeds for identification. It usually is a beautiful June morning to be outdoors.