Sunday, March 25, 2012

We Have Met the Enemy...

And he is some kind of jerk, honestly.

(Ed. Note: Stacia is away this week on a work-related non-vacation, so we are temporarily the all-Greg show. We apologize for this and will be back to our regular staff by the weekend.)

So this afternoon I set off into the backyard to putter around the garden for a bit, and couldn't help but notice the lovely carpet of light purple flowers that had recently sprung up. As we may have noted in the past, the portion of the backyard nearest to the house is very well shaded, to the point that grass can barely grow there. Great, I thought, some sort of ground cover to fill in for the grass. It looked a bit like this.

A little while later, I was weeding and was naturally closer to the ground. As I came upon one of these plants, I decided to take a closer look.

A few purple flowers, but then I noticed those kind of fluted, bugle-shaped leaves. A bit of a shudder came over me, for I had just finished weeding a particularly weed-infested bed, and I was pretty sure I recognized this guy. As we had turned the soil over in these beds and busted things up, a lot of weeds had gotten buried and were only now starting to poke up through. Some, with very similar looking leaves, would almost always snap off at the stem rather than giving up any roots. To get the whole weed, you had to really dig down crazy deep. How deep? Well, here's one from the soon-to-be broccoli bed.

Not too bad, right? No flowers yet, and truly much more compact.Well, take a look at the monster root structure on this beast, and check out the size of the hole it took to remove it.

Yowza. I had never met this creature before, but it seems to be something comparable to the aptly named creeping charlie. Its leaves aren't quite a match (per some internet research), but it shares those similar flowers and the unpleasant ability to reroot or regrow from pieces of root. In any case, I double-checked, and we've got the regular creeping charlie too.

(Ed. Note: They're actually wild violets, as friend Discknits pointed out in the comments. Thanks!)

So if you're not willing to poison your yard or garden courtesy of Monsanto (and we're not), you're left with two options, apparently. Use borax, which is "natural" but still really toxic, or just weed really well, making sure to get the whole root. Today I did the latter in the broccoli bed, and I'll have to check back in a few days to see if any of them have grown back, like a plant version of Reptilicus (awesome movie, by the way). We intend to eat out of this soil in the future, so we're really hesitant to put down any herbicides, natural or otherwise. We shall see in a few days just how much of a pain this plant is going to be. I am hopeful, but I'm bracing myself for the possibility of a drawn out battle.

But not all our flowers are bad! Just this week, some other "volunteer" plants sprung up in the front beds, apparently put in place by one of the former owners of our house. This one's even prettier, and I'm pretty sure I won't have to fight with it. :)

Have you had creeping charlie? Can we beat it, or are we doomed to a future of pretty flowers that are determined to destroy our garden?


  1. I always called those violets when I was a kid. Still have no idea how to get rid of them sans herbicide though.

  2. Zounds! You're right - those are wild violets. They apparently thrive in shady, fescue lawns, which is exactly what we've got. And in the lawn, I don't mind them much. Didn't even when I thought they were creeping charlie, and even less so now that they have a prettier name. :) The lawn can have all the violets, creeping charlie and clover it wants. In the garden beds, that's another story, and that means war!

    Oh, and that borax thing above is particular to creeping charlie, which thus far has stayed in the lawn and is therefore safe. Violets are relatively herbicide-resistant, so the interlopers into the garden will just have to be pulled.

    Thanks for the ID on these guys. I feel a little bad for hating them now that I know what they are.