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» WSSA » Weeds » Articles on Garden Weeds » NEVER LET ‘EM SET SEED Have you ever wished you could grow vegetables without hours of weeding? If you are like most gardeners, I bet you have. The Weed and Seed Strategy This report presents an overview on the Weed and Seed Strategy developed under the U.S. Department of Justice, Executive Office for Weed and Seed, a multi-agency initiative What is Weed and Seed and what does it mean to your …

» WSSA » Weeds » Articles on Garden Weeds » NEVER LET ‘EM SET SEED

Have you ever wished you could grow vegetables without hours of weeding? If you are like most gardeners, I bet you have. The good news is that with a bit of dedicated effort, you can reduce the weeding you do year by year until your vegetable garden is virtually weed-free.

Have you ever wished you could grow vegetables without hours of weeding? If you are like most gardeners, I bet you have. The good news is that with a bit of dedicated effort, you can reduce the weeding you do year by year until your vegetable garden is virtually weed-free.

The key is to know a bit about something called the “weed seed bank” and how to manage it. Most people don’t realize that a weed can produce literally thousands – or even millions – of seeds per plant. Early in my career as a university professor, I conducted research to document the number of seeds coming from even a single weed plant. The accompanying chart shows the results were pretty stunning. And all those seeds fall to the ground and become part of a “seed bank” that fuels new weed growth.

The weed seed bank is central to the “never let ’em set seed” rationale. Seeds “in the bank” can remain viable for quite a long time and sprout when conditions are right. That means it will take several years for you to reach your weed-free goal.

How many years? The answer depends on the weed species growing in your garden. Seeds of most annual weedy grasses die after two or three years, but some broadleaf weed seeds can last for decades. On average, though, the bulk of your weed seed bank will be depleted in about five years if no additional seeds are added. That means diligence is the key. Never let one weed go to seed or you will be back to square one!

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What about seeds blown onto your garden or dropped there by birds? They shouldn’t be a big problem. The seeds for most weed species drop directly to the ground, close to the mother plant. There are only a few bad actors with windborne seed, such as dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), sowthistle (Sonchus oleraceus) and groundsel (Senecio vulgaris). And it is rare for annual weed seeds to be spread by birds. It’s a bit of gardening lore that isn’t substantiated by fact.

To hasten the path to a weed-free garden, I recommend a two-pronged strategy: drive down the number of viable seeds in the soil and quickly intervene when those that remain sprout. I grow between 70% and 80% of the vegetables my wife and I eat, and I now spend almost no time weeding them. I have managed to drive down the seed bank using solarization, mulching, hoeing and hand pulling. In case you haven’t heard of solarization, it involves covering the soil with a clear plastic tarp for several weeks in the summer to heat the soil and kill weed seeds. It may sound farfetched, but it works.

While there is never a 100% guarantee in the natural world, if you follow a “never let ’em set seed” strategy, I can virtually guarantee that you will soon be doing a lot less weeding in future years.

This column is provided as a courtesy by the Weed Science Society of America (WSSA). The author Robert Norris is an avid gardener and a professor emeritus in the Plant Sciences at the University of California at Davis.

Examples of Weed Seed Production per Plant*
Weed name Seeds per plant Where the plant
was located
Barnyardgrass, Echinochloa crus-galli 750,000 Davis, CA
Purslane, Portulaca oleracea > 2,000,000 Davis, CA
Black nightshade, Solanum ptycanthum > 800,000 Rosemount, MN
Puncturevine, Tribulus terrestris > 100,000 Pullman, WA
Powell amaranth, Amaranthus powellii 268,000 Freeville, NY
Shepherd’s purse, Capsella bursa-pastoris 40,000 Sheffield, UK
Chickweed, Stellaria media 25,000 Rothamsted, UK

* Data collected by various researchers around the globe.

A Note about Perennial Weeds

Most of the perennial weeds that plague perennial flower gardens and lawns need more than the “never let ’em set seed” rule for effective control. Many perennial weeds grow from underground roots or tubers – making the path to weed-free perennial gardening much tougher. Not only should you prevent seed production, but you need to control the roots and tubers, too. Frequent removal of the shoots of perennial weeds will eventually starve and kill the underground tissues. You’ll need to be especially persistent and use a variety of control methods to reach your goal. If necessary, this can also be achieved with the careful use of appropriate herbicides.

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Weed and Seed Strategy

This report presents an overview on the Weed and Seed Strategy developed under the U.S. Department of Justice, Executive Office for Weed and Seed, a multi-agency initiative in crime control and prevention.

Operation Weed and Seed was developed in 1991 by the U.S. Department of Justice as a strategy based on four fundamental principles: collaboration, coordination, community participation, and leveraging resources with a multi-agency approach to law enforcement, crime prevention, and neighborhood restoration. The approach is two-fold. First, law enforcement agencies and prosecutors must work together to “weed out” criminals from a specific target area. Then, the “seeding” process begins and brings prevention, intervention, treatment, and neighborhood revitalization services to the area. The Weed and Seed Strategy requires some key elements: (1) a steering committee to offer a governing structure for the initiative and (2) a strategic plan developed by assessing community problems and needs, sound resolutions and responses, and obtaining the necessary resources and participation. Today, Weed and Seed has grown to more than 300 high-crime neighborhoods across the country.

What is Weed and Seed and what does it mean to your .

What is Weed and Seed and what does it mean to your .

What is Weed and Seed and what does it mean to your .

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What is Weed and Seed andwhat does it mean to your neighborhood?Weed and Seed, a community-based strategy sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), isan innovative, comprehensive multi agency approach to law enforcement, crime prevention, andcommunity revitalization. The Community Capacity Development Office oversees the Weed andSeed initiative.Weed and Seed is foremost a strategy—rather than a grant program—that aims to prevent, control,and reduce violent crime, drug abuse, and gang activity in the Upper Albany Clay Arsenalneighborhoods.The strategy involves a two-pronged approach: law enforcement agencies and prosecutorscooperate in “weeding out” violent criminals and drug abusers and public agencies and communitybasedprivate organizations collaborate to “seed” much-needed human services, includingprevention, intervention, treatment, and neighborhood restoration programs.A community-oriented policing component bridges the weeding and seeding elements. Youth- andadult-oriented services are delivered. Through coordinated efforts, Weed and Seed joins varioustask forces of Law Enforcement Agencies from all levels of government who aim to reduce bothcrime and fear of crime, which gives back hope to residents living in distressed neighborhoods andsets the stage for community revitalization. Community Policing embraces two key concepts—community engagement and problem solving. Community policing strategies foster a sense ofresponsibility within the community for solving crime problems and help develop cooperativerelationships between the police and residents.About Weed and SeedCatchment AreaStrategic GoalsSteering CommitteeThe Prevention, Intervention, and Treatment component concentrates an array of human servicesin the UA/CA neighborhood and links law enforcement, social services agencies, the private sector,and the community to improve the overall quality of services to residents. The UA/CA Weed andSeed site has established Safe Havens, a multiservice center often housed in a school or communitycenter, where d use of federal, state, local, and private-sector resources, NeighborhoodRestoration strategies focus on economic development, employment opportunities for residents,and improvements to the housing stock and physical environment of the neighborhood. The“Weeding” component weeds out Crime, while the “Seeding component, seeds the communitywith social services and resource.Improve the quality of life in your community by joining “Weed & Seed”. Contact Officer KevinO’Brien, Weed and Seed Coordinator, at 860-757-4014 for more information.Do you want to see a CHANGE?Attend the Weed and Seed Steering Committee meeting held the third Wednesday of every monthbeginning at 5 p.m. at The Artists Collective, 1200 Albany Avenue, Hartford

  • Page 2 and 3: About Weed and SeedThe Upper Albany
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