Keep an Eye Out for Poison Ivy

Most plants made excellent growth during our cool, wet spring.  Standing water in low-lying areas did some damage but plants in well-drained areas made exceptional growth.

We will be seeing the effects of our spring for the rest of the summer.  One of those is the bumper crop of poison ivy. Poison ivy is turning up in places were it never has grown before.

We have a forty-foot square patch of wild dewberries in a dry spot near the chicken run.  Those vines choke out anything that tries to get a foothold. Not this year though. The poison ivy has nearly overgrown the dewberries this spring.  I’m sure it was in large part due to the rain stimulating the poison ivy growth.  Poison ivy resembles dewberries at first glance.  It would be very easy for someone to walk trough that area without realizing there was poison ivy mixed in.

Notice the dofference between poison ivy in the center of the photo and a bramble leaf to the left.

Be careful when working in your yard and garden, you may have poison ivy growing and not realize it.  As a reminder, poison ivy has three leaflets growing out of a single point on the stem.  The leaves are smooth and often, shiny-looking.  It can grow as a vine, a shrubby plant or look like any other weed in the yard.  Sometimes a young Box Elder seedling is mistaken for poison ivy.  If the plant in question has thorns, it is not poison ivy.

It’s a good idea to keep in mind that old saying: “leaflets three, let it be”.



Keep Weeding

Here we are, well into July and have progressed this far in the garden with all of our planting,  fertilizing, controlling pests and so on.  It takes a lot of work to keep up a garden and it’s easy to get distracted by other summer time activities… the pool, the lake, golf.

Make sure you are diligent in keeping up with your weeding because weeds grow extremely fast this time of  season and can overtake your garden if you are not careful. This is especially a problem for those who take a week or two vacation during the summer only to return home to find their formally spotless garden full of weeds once again.

These weeds will drastically reduce the onion yeild unless they are removed soon.

Many garden crops cannot compete very well with weeds and need to be kept weed-free throughout the season if you hope to get a crop this fall.  Onions are an example of a crop won’t produce well under weedy conditions.

Mulching your garden will go a long way in helping to keep the weeds down even if you don’t get all of the garden covered.  If you do decide to mulch, remove the existing weeds to keep them from growing and pushing up through your mulch.

Mulching will reduce the amount of weeding that you will need to do.

There are many types of materials that can be used for mulch such as straw, shredded leaves, hay, grass clippings, paper, plastic, old carpeting etc.  The idea is to cover the soil so that no sunlight will reach the surface of the garden.  Since most weed seeds need sunlight to sprout, they won’t grow into a problem for you.

Perennial weeds such as quack grass or morning glory are harder to suppress with mulch but even they can be greatly reduced.

The main idea is  keep up with your weeding, don’t let it get out of hand and it will  stay manageable.


Poison Ivy

Judy and I have been spending many, many hours each day in our gardens. May and early June are particularly busy for us. We do have help however.

Every year we have to remind our helpers about Poison Ivy. Some learn very quickly how to identify it while others need a little more time.

If you are spending any time at all outdoors, chances are you may encounter this plant.

Poison Ivy is easy to spot once you know what to look for. The most noticeable characteristic is its three leaflets.

Notice on the plant shown below how the three leaflets look.

This is a Poison Ivy plant that has been cut back numerous times, it’s a little weak and the leaves are fairly small but still is recognizable. It almost looks like a small tree seedling.

On this next photo we see Poison Ivy in its climbing form growing up the side of a building. The three leaflets are clearly noticeable.  Also, notice how much larger they are.

Now in this case, the owner of the building wanted a decorative vine to climb up the brick wall. He went to the nursery and picked out a very nice vine and planted it. So far so good.

Unfortunately, as is often the case, a Poison Ivy plant has taken root right next to it and is over-growing the decorative vine.

If you look close, to the right of the photo,you can see a vine with only a single leaf growing habit, that is the vine the owner planted and it’s not competing very well against the Poison Ivy.

The owner insists that the Poison Ivy vine is the decorative vine he planted! Poison Ivy has the most beautiful red colored leaves  in the fall. No wonder he can’t believe it’s Poison Ivy.

There are other plants that have three leaflets, brambles such as wild raspberry are one example. Their leaves are fuzzy and the vines have thorns on them while Poison Ivy is smooth all over.

So, enjoy the outdoors but watch out for Poison Ivy and remember that old saying…”leaflets three, let it be”.