The Cambrian

A Gardener’s Notebook: The year of weeds and wildflowers

Rain has kept the soil moist for months. For gardeners, it means healthy plants and healthy weeds, possibly a “take-over” if allowed. Now’s the time for planning a strategy to control weeds because, as Shakespeare said, “Sweet flowers are slow and weeds make haste”.

Your first plan of attack should be to know what kind of weeds you are dealing with and how they grow. This will certainly be the “year of the weeds” on the Central Coast, so best acquaint ourselves with the weeds we are removing from our flowerbeds. Perennials (having a life-cycle that extends for at least a few years) need to be dug out, root and all. A perennial may consider hoeing a pleasant pruning and simply make a healthy comeback.

If a weed is an annual (life span is less than a year and goes through it’s complete life-cycle in that period of time) the best method of removal is just cutting it off at the ground before it goes to seed. The roots will rot beneath the ground, enriching it. Grasses are usually annuals.

Then there’s oxalis, that pretty little yellow flowered weed, blooming in every garden in Cambria. It is not a true perennial. It reproduces by underground corms and by seed. If you don’t want it to overtake your garden, pull it out before it blooms. Do not put it into your compost pile. Its tiny corms will infect your garden next year when you spread the compost. Broom has seeds that are viable in the soil for decades. Get it now, before it scatters seeds that may outlive you!

You will be shocked at how many “weeds” are native wildflowers and can be seen on the Wildflower Identification Walk. This year the event is held from 10 a.m. to noon Sunday, May 2. D.R. Miller, organizer of the annual Cambria Wildflower Show, will guide participants. Reservations required by calling 927-2202.

If you are not up to the hike, take in the annual Cambria Wildflower Show from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 24, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, April 25, at the Cambria Veterans Memorial Building. You’ll see a display of fresh wildflowers collected from the Monterey County line to the Morro Bay Estuary and from Santa Lucia Mountain ridge to the coastal bluffs. For details, call 927-2856.

The hills of the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve are exceptionally green this year with native grasses and wildflowers. There are volunteers out there most days with shovels and plastic bags. This time of year they are removing wild mustard, probably the Sahara mustard, considered an invasive weed in California. It would be good to follow their example and remove invasive weeds from your garden so that plants you wish to thrive can survive.

E-mail Lee Oliphant at cambriagardener @; read her blog at gardenwithchickens.