Get those stickers, before they get you!

All that rain – I knew this year we would get a bumper crop of weeds.  I can’t get over how quickly they grew tall and headed up after that last shower. Already I have big foxtails and other sticker weeds waving in the wind.

I found some cana lillies among a jungle of weed grass.

I found some Cana lilies among a jangle of fox tails.

One year my old boxer dog Venus got a fox tail in her throat, and it was shocking how quickly she began choking.  It was really scary driving her across town to the vet, every stop light seemed to take an hour. He had to put her under anesthesia to get it out. After that my husband and I are kind of paranoid about sticker grass, we work hard every Spring to make safe areas where we can romp the dogs without worrying about another scary trip to the vet.

So he’s out there mowing, and then raking, and I am all along the fences pulling. In the driveway, where we seldom have the dogs, we use Round-up.

My husband did a flooring job for a man who had retired from Mansanto, where he said he worked making new formulas for Round-up. Oh yeah, the weeds figure it out after a while, he said, the formula has to be constantly tweaked. My husband told him I didn’t like Round-up around our yard, with our kids and our dogs, and he said that’s just as well – it’s not the best solution. He told my husband about a company cocktail party he’d attended, years back. The guest of honor was the chemist who had invented Round-up.  The inventor acknowledged the constant need to tweak the formula, and when somebody casually asked, ‘what’s the best way to get rid of weeds?’  the inventor just as casually responded, ‘pull them out by the roots before they go to head…’

End of story.

Of course I can’t pull them all. I stick to the fence lines where the dirt is soft, and I try to work quickly after the rains. I try to get the gravel path ways before the ground hardens – I try.  

Weeds moved in fast on my gravel pathways over those long rainy days.

Weeds moved in fast on my gravel pathways over those long rainy days, and as soon as the rain stopped, the ground turned to cement.

Even in a normal year I don’t make it, and this year, wow, they are coming at me like a regular Green Revolution. At this time of year, I depend on my propane torch.

The propane torch makes neat work of those tough weeds.

The propane torch makes neat work of those tough weeds. 

The torch is attached to a propane can that can blow a taco truck across the street, so it used to make me pretty nervous. You could easily catch your pants on fire, sure. It is a job that demands focus, that’s for sure, but it’s mesmerizing, watching the weeds crinkle up and disappear, leaving nothing but ashes and cinders.



It’s hard to get the entire root sometimes, those milky weeds are sticky. I’ll probably have to come back one more time, but maybe not, if this heat keeps up. 

The torch is heavy, I can only use it for about 20 minute stretches at a time. But it is so nice, watching my dooryard reappear from that shaggy green blanket, finding flowers hiding in the dank foliage, and getting rid of the stickers before I am picking them out of the dogs and my socks and shoes.






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