snowdrops and Daffodils nubbins jutting from the ground i the spring
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Veggie Bites – Burdock and Wild Parsnip

I use this time of year to pull out burdock and wild parsnip plants. Their long tap roots have not developed the little hair-like roots that anchor them in the ground. I get great joy from pulling out these noxious weeds. 

Greetings fellow gardeners,

Oh spring! I am outside listening to the red-wing blackbirds and loving the sunshine. I am sure I will soon be enjoying the rain as well. I know how eager we all are to get out there to start cleaning up, but please hang on. Over-wintering creatures still need the shelter of leaves and dry stems and the grass roots have yet to establish. So do not start raking, no matter how tempting it might be, as you can pull up the grass and disturb the pollinators that you are going to need in your garden.

As the weather warms, you will notice that your lawn is squishy. As you step, you will hear the water squish and you will find that you are leaving footprints in the grass. This really compacts the soil, and the roots of the grass will not be able to breathe. Try to stay off the grass until it dries up.

 I find that this is a ‘magic’ time of year because this is when the nastiest of tap-rooted weeds pull out of the ground like butter. I use this time of year to pull out burdock and wild parsnip plants. Their long tap roots have not developed the little hair-like roots that anchor them in the ground. I get great joy from pulling out these noxious weeds. 

The burrs on these plants will stick to everything, so I try to hold them at arm’s length. I have heard that these little burrs were the inspiration for Velcro and that is not hard to believe.

Naked Burdock Root

If you look at the burdock root that I just pulled out with very little effort, you will see that it is very smooth. Usually there are little hair-like roots all over it, making it nearly impossible to pull out of the ground later in the summer. 

As I walked around in the early morning sunshine, I imagined the flowers and vegetables growing where the snow is now melting. While I stood there daydreaming, I was suddenly aware of a flash of green. The daffodils are waking up!  Small points of daffodils in clumps all over the garden. 

  Daffodil nubbins

There are also tulip beginnings and the soft grey fuzz of pussywillows on the tree with my birdfeeders. The only raking that I will do is on my driveway to distribute the extra birdseed so it will be eaten. 

It is very exciting on the plant stand these days and the too-many cats continue to patrol the perimeter. Most of my seeds have germinated and the leaves are at the seed-leaf or cotyledon stage. This is not the time to plant up the seedlings. Your seedlings should be at least at the true leaf stage. You may notice that some of your little seedlings look like they have wilted. This is referred to as damp-off. It usually happens when you overwater or there is not enough airflow. Carefully put the seedlings and soil in your compost and start again with fresh soil. It is very easy to water too much, so be very aware of how much you water. 

  Little seedlings getting bigger

I think the weather is going to be very changeable for the next little while, so enjoy the sunshine and the rain and remember that if it gets cold it will not stay that way for long. Enjoy your week. Judith.