Long island weed thin shoots seed

Weeds That Shoot Their Seeds

Its small white flowers are similar to those of chickweed, another ‘unwanted plant’ that blooms early in the Spring. But chickweed is more of a flat, spreading, mat-like plant. And its seedpods aren’t faster than a speeding bullet. Both weeds are remarkably easy to control in flowerbeds; just pull them, roots and all, out of wet soil. Chickweed comes out in big clumps, while bitter cress has a nice little stalk that gives you a handle to grab onto. Just remember to soak the soil first; all weeds come out of wet soil MUCH easier than dry.

But I like to wait until after the little white flowers form to pull these weeds. Their flowers open up right before the blooms on my fruit trees, attracting lots of the pollinators and beneficial insects I’ll need to get a good fruit set and to fight all the pests that want to eat those peaches as much as we do.

If I’m paying attention and life cooperates, I’ll pull the weeds while they’re still in flower and before they set seed. Both weeds get composted—mixed into a good amount of shredded leaves hoarded from the previous fall; at least two parts leaves to every part green weed. The bitter cress typically comes up with a good amount of soil attached to its roots, which adds microbial life to the pile; and the chickweed has a lot of water content to help keep the moistness levels right.

If I don’t get to them in time, I toast the seedheads with my trusty flame weeder before I pull the plants, just like I do with dandelions that have progressed to the puffball stage. Dandelion seeds burst into little flares of color—like Munchkin fireworks. Bittercress seeds explode with a loud ‘pop’. (Organic gardening is SO much more fun than spraying hormonal disruptor around!)

Both weeds are also highly edible, especially when young. Chickweed is more nutritious than the salad greens that many people remove it to plant! And, although hairy bittercress (a member of the mustard family) doesn’t have nearly as many wild food fans as chickweed or purslane (perhaps the most edible ‘weed’), it does have some of the peppery taste of its namesake watercress, and it’s loaded with cancer-fighting nutrients. Pick it before the flower buds form and it won’t have nearly as much of the bitter edge that older plants take on. (Flowering changes the flavor of virtually all herbs and greens for the worse.)

In turf, weeds like bittercress are a sure sign of poor lawn care. The answer is not to poison yourself and the environment (and kill your grass) in a futile attempt to remove the weed, but to care for your lawn correctly and deny the weed a place to live. Take good care of your grass and a harmless little plant like this should never have a chance to get established, much less thrive.

For a Northern, cool-season lawn (one composed of cool-season grasses like rye, fescue and/or bluegrass) that means never cutting shorter than three inches, never feeding in summer, watering deeply but infrequently, and giving the lawn a big natural feeding in the Fall.

If you scalp the lawn, weeds will thrive. If you water it frequently for short periods of time, weeds will thrive. And if you feed the poor heat-stressed thing in summer, weeds will take over.

Oh—and don’t use chemical herbicides. We hear they’re murder on the poor grass….

Long Island Improved Brussel Sprouts Seeds

Sowing: Since frost brings out the best flavor in brussels sprouts, plant them late in May or early in June for a fall crop. Start Long Island Improved Brussels sprouts seeds by planting them 1/2″ deep in soil; when they grow to 6″ tall, transplant or thin them 2′ apart. Compress the soil around the seed and keep the ground moist.

Growing: Mulch to preserve the moisture in the soil. Remove weeds carefully to avoid disturbing the plants. If heavy winds threaten the plant, provide a stake for support. As the leaves on the stem turn yellow, take them off so that the sprouts can freely develop. If aphids appear, eliminate them with a strong stream of water from a hose.

Harvesting: About four months after transplanting, the first sprouts should be ready. Twist them off the stem from the bottom up; sprouts about 1″ in diameter are the most tender. To continue harvesting sprouts after frost, hang the entire plant upside down in a cool place; sprouts will continue to mature for a few more weeks. Long Island Improved sprouts freeze quite well.

Seed Saving: Seed heads will not develop until early spring, so overwintering the plant will be necessary. If the climate is cold, this means digging up the plant and storing it, stem and all, in moist sand at a temperature of about 40 degrees F. Replant 3-4 weeks before the last spring frost. Allow the sprouts left on the plant to flower, mature, and fully dry on the stem. The seed heads will open as soon as they are dry and brown, so watch them closely in order to save the seed before it falls to the ground. Store Long Island Improved Brussels sprouts seeds in a cool, dry place for up to five years.

FAST FACTS

Latin Name: Brassica oleracea

Type: Open Pollinated, Heirloom, Cool Season

USDA Zones: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Seeds per Ounce: 8,000

Planting Method: From Transplant

Sunlight: Full Sun

Height: 24 Inches

Color: Green

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Long Island Improved is the most common and widely adapted open pollinated Brussel Sprout variety for the home vegetable garden! Compact plants grow up to 24 inches tall and produce massive amounts of tight, tender heads that average 1 1/2″ in diameter. Relative maturity is 100 days from sowing.

Historians believe that the ancient Romans first cultivated Brussels sprouts, but Belgium has the greatest claim on this tiny vegetable. As the name indicates, Brussels sprouts grew in great abundance around the city of Brussels. Since the 1900s, growers in California has produced most of the United States’ supply of this vegetable; Long Island Improved in particular is a favorite variety of commercial growers.

HOW TO GROW

Sowing: Since frost brings out the best flavor in brussels sprouts, plant them late in May or early in June for a fall crop. Start Long Island Improved Brussels sprouts seeds by planting them 1/2″ deep in soil; when they grow to 6″ tall, transplant or thin them 2′ apart. Compress the soil around the seed and keep the ground moist.

Growing: Mulch to preserve the moisture in the soil. Remove weeds carefully to avoid disturbing the plants. If heavy winds threaten the plant, provide a stake for support. As the leaves on the stem turn yellow, take them off so that the sprouts can freely develop. If aphids appear, eliminate them with a strong stream of water from a hose.

Harvesting: About four months after transplanting, the first sprouts should be ready. Twist them off the stem from the bottom up; sprouts about 1″ in diameter are the most tender. To continue harvesting sprouts after frost, hang the entire plant upside down in a cool place; sprouts will continue to mature for a few more weeks. Long Island Improved sprouts freeze quite well.

Seed Saving: Seed heads will not develop until early spring, so overwintering the plant will be necessary. If the climate is cold, this means digging up the plant and storing it, stem and all, in moist sand at a temperature of about 40 degrees F. Replant 3-4 weeks before the last spring frost. Allow the sprouts left on the plant to flower, mature, and fully dry on the stem. The seed heads will open as soon as they are dry and brown, so watch them closely in order to save the seed before it falls to the ground. Store Long Island Improved Brussels sprouts seeds in a cool, dry place for up to five years.

Mile-a-Minute

Mile-a-minute weed (Persicaria perfoliata) is a vigorous, barbed vine that smothers other herbaceous plants, shrubs and even trees by growing over them. Growing up to six inches per day, mile-a-minute weed forms dense mats that cover other plants and then stresses and weakens them through smothering and physically damaging them. Sunlight is blocked, thus decreasing the covered plant’s ability to photosynthesize; and the weight and pressure of the mile-a-minute weed can cause poor growth of branches and foliage. The smothering can eventually kill overtopped plants.

History

Mile-a-minute weed (Persicaria perfoliata (L.) H. Gross, formerly Polygonum perfoliatum) is a member of the polygonum or buckwheat family. It is native to India and Eastern Asia and was accidentally introduced via contaminated holly seed into York County, Pennsylvania in 1930. Mile-a-minute weed has been found in all the Mid-Atlantic states, southern New England, North Carolina, Ohio, and Oregon (2011). In New York, mile-a-minute weed has been recorded mostly in counties south of the northern Connecticut border. Mile-a-minute weed has a large potential to expand in cooler areas, as the seed requires an eight-week cold period in order to flower. It is estimated that mile-a-minute weed is in only 20% of its potential U.S. range.

Infestations of mile-a-minute weed decrease native vegetation and habitat in natural areas impacting plants and the wildlife that depend on those plants as well. Mile-a-minute weed can also be a major pest in Christmas tree plantations, reforestation areas and young forest stands, and landscape nurseries. Areas that are regularly disturbed, such as powerline and utility right-of-ways where openings are created through regular herbicide use are prime locations for mile-a-minute weed establishment. Small populations of rare plants could be completely destroyed. Thickets of these barbed plants can also be a deterrent to recreation.

Biology

Mile-a-minute weed is an herbaceous annual vine. Its leaves are alternate, light green, 4 to 7 cm long and 5 to 9 cm wide, and shaped like an equilateral triangle. Its green vines are narrow and delicate, becoming woody and reddish with time. The vines and the undersides of leaves are covered with recurved barbs that aid in its ability to climb. Mile-a-minute has ocreae that surround the stems at nodes. This distinctive 1 to 2 cm feature is cup-shaped and leafy. Flower buds, and thus flowers and fruit, grow from these ocreae. When the small, white, inconspicuous flowers are pollinated they form spikes of blue, berry-like fruits, each containing a single glossy, black seed called an achene. Vines can grow up to six inches per day.

Mile-a-minute fruiting spike, ocreae, and barbs. Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org

Mile-a-minute weed is primarily a self-fertile plant and does not need any pollinators to produce viable seeds. Its ability to flower and produce seeds over a long period of time (June through October) make mile-a-minute weed a prolific seeder. Seeds can be viable in the soil for up to six years and can germinate at staggered intervals. Vines are killed by frost and the seeds overwinter in the soil. Mile-a-minute seeds require an eight-week vernalization period at temperatures below 10 degrees Celsius in order to flower, and therefore be a threat. Germination is generally early April through early July.

Seeds are carried long distances by birds, which are presumed to be the main cause of long distance spread. Deer, chipmunks, squirrels and even one particular species of ant is known to eat mile-a-minute weed fruit. Viable seeds have been found in deer scat; an indication that other animals may also be vectors.

Mile-a-minute weed seeds can float for seven to nine days, which allows for long distance movement in water. This movement can be amplified during storms when vines hanging over waterways drop their fruit into fast moving waters, which then spread the seeds throughout a watershed.

Habitat

Mile-a-minute weed is generally found colonizing natural and man-made disturbed and open areas and along the edges of woods, streams, wetlands, uncultivated fields, and roads. It can also be found in areas with extremely wet environments with poor soil structure, and while it will grow in drier soils, mile-a-minute prefers high moisture soils. It will tolerate some shade for part of the day, but prefers full sun. Using its specially-adapted recurved barbs, mile-a-minute weed can reach sunlight by climbing over plants, helping it outcompete other vegetation.

Mile-a-minute weed infested area. USDA APHIS PPQ Archive, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org

Management

Mile-a-minute has a number of management options that can be employed. Different sites will dictate different levels of management depending on conditions and the level of infestation. Once all the plants have been removed, on-going monitoring and management must occur for up to six years in order to exhaust any seeds remaining in the soil.

Biological Control

The mile-a-minute weevil, Rhinocominus latipes Korotyaev, is a 2 mm long, black weevil which is often covered by an exuded orange film produced from the mile-a-minute plants it feeds on. This small weevil is host-specific to mile-a-minute weed and has been successfully released and recovered in multiple locations in the U.S.

Mile-a-minute Weevil, Rhinocominus latipes, adult on mile-a-minute. Note the recurved barbs. Ellen Lake, University of Delaware, Bugwood.org

The adult weevils feed on the leaves of mile-a-minute weed and females lay eggs on the leaves and stems. When the eggs hatch, the larvae bore into the stem to complete their development, feeding on the stems between the nodes. The larvae then emerge and drop to the soil to pupate. There are three to four overlapping generations per year, with about a month needed per generation. Egg laying ceases in late summer or early fall, and the mile-a-minute weevil overwinters as an adult in the soil or leaf litter.

Mile-a-minute weevil feeding damage can stunt plants by causing the loss of apical dominance and can delay seed production. In the presence of competing vegetation, mile-a-minute weed can be killed by the weevil. The mile-a-minute weevil is more effective in the sun than in the shade. Over time, mile-a-minute weevils have been shown to reduce spring seedling counts. Biological control of mile-a-minute weed is currently the most promising and cost effective method.

Feeding damage of adult mile-a-minute weevils. Ellen Lake, University of Delaware, Bugwood.org

For more information on the mile-a-minute weevil, check the University of Delaware Biological Control on Invasive Plants Research website:

Cultural Control

Cultural methods can be used to help prevent mile-a-minute weed introduction to a new area. Maintain a stable plant community; avoid creating disturbances, openings or gaps in existing vegetation; and maintain wide, shade-producing, vegetative buffers along streams and wooded areas to prevent establishment.

Manual and Mechanical Control

Hand-pulling of vines can be effective; ideally before the barbs harden, afterwards thicker gloves are needed. Pull and bale vines and roots as early in the season as possible. Let the piles of vines dry out completely before disposing. Later in the season, vines must be pulled with caution as the fruit could be knocked off or spread more easily. Collected plants can be incinerated or burned, left to dry and piled on site, or bagged and landfilled (least preferred). Dry piles left on site should be monitored and managed a few times each year, especially during the spring and early summer germination period to ensure any germinating seedlings are destroyed.

Low growing populations of mile-a-minute weed can have their resources exhausted through repeated mowing or cutting. This will reduce flower production and therefore reduce fruit production.

Chemical Control

Mile-a-minute weed can be controlled with commonly used herbicides in moderate doses. The challenge with herbicides is mile-a-minute’s ability to grow over the top of desirable vegetation, and spraying the foliage of only the mile-a-minute weed can be challenging. Pre-emergent herbicides (herbicides that prevent seed germination) can be used with extensive infestations, often in combination with spot treatments of post-emergent herbicides (herbicides applied to the growing plant) for seedlings that escape control. Small populations are better controlled with post-emergent herbicides. General chemical control guidelines can be found at http://www.docs.dcnr.pa.gov/cs/groups/public/documents/document/dcnr_20033415.pdf. Areas treated with herbicides need to be monitored and retreated as necessary when new seedlings emerge from the seed bank, see above. Please contact your local Cornell Cooperative Extension office http://www.cce.cornell.edu for pesticide use guidelines. For treating wetland areas or infestations near water, contact a certified pesticide applicator. Always apply pesticides according to the label directions; it’s the law.

New York Distribution Map

This map shows confirmed observations (green points) submitted to the NYS Invasive Species Database. Absence of data does not necessarily mean absence of the species at that site, but that it has not been reported there. For more information, please visit iMapInvasives.