Vehicles are one of the major vectors of long-distance weed seed spread. Viable seed removed from vehicles at roadside wash down facilities was studied at five locations in central Queensland, Australia over a 3-year period. Seed from 145 plant species, belonging to 34 different families, were identified in the sludge samples obtained from the wet particulate matter collection pit of the wash down facilities. Most of the species were annual forbs (50%) with small or very small seed size (<2 mm in diameter). A significant amount of seed from the highly invasive, parthenium weed was observed in these samples. More parthenium weed seed were found in the Rolleston facility and in the spring, but its seed was present in all facilities and in all seasons. The average number of viable seed found within every ton of dry particulate matter removed from vehicles was ca. 68,000. Thus, a typical wash down facility was removing up to ca. 335,000 viable seed from vehicles per week, of which ca. 6700 were parthenium weed seed. Furthermore, 61% of these seed (ca. 200,000) were from introduced species, and about half of these (35% of total) were from species considered to be weeds. Therefore, the roadside wash down facilities found throughout Queensland can remove a substantial amount of viable weed seed from vehicles, including the invasive parthenium weed, and the use of such facilities should be strongly encouraged.
Keywords: Invasive species; Parthenium weed; Prevention; Vehicle wash down facility; Weed control; Weed seed spread.
Cultivate with Caution
It can seem endless, but consistently weeding your garden will pay off. For every weed remove before it goes to seed, you effectively eliminate hundreds of its offspring. Commit to a weeding schedule and stick to it. The perfect time for weeding is while the soil is moist and plants are young. Gently pull weeds at their base (disturbing as little soil as possible) and discard away from the garden. If you encounter difficult roots, insert a sharp knife or Cape Cod weeder into the ground to sever the weed from its roots without disturbing the ground or mulch around it.
How to Prevent Weeds
Young plants from the local nursery can introduce new weeds to your garden. Weed seeds are great at spreading, even in a nursery environment. Inspect all new transplants closely to ensure they aren’t bringing in any undesirable friends. If you spot seeds or sprouts, simply pull them out before transplanting into your garden.
The best way to prevent weeds from spreading throughout your garden is to stop them before they take root. Knowing how to prevent weeds means understanding the task is not a one-time job, but rather a continual garden chore. But even those who pull weeds begrudgingly do so knowing that preventing weeds as they appear, or quickly after they’ve sprouted, takes a lot less time than removing an established weed infestation. Consider taking the following steps for a weed free gardening experience.
An effective and natural option to prevent weeds from taking over your garden is through the use of mulch. Apply a thick layer of organic mulch approximately 2 inches deep in the garden area – take care to avoid the base of individual plants and shrubs. Not only will mulch help the soil retain moisture, it also smothers out any small weeds and creates an unfriendly environment for tilled up weed seeds. While non-organic mulches (such as landscaping fabric and plastic) last much longer than organic mulches (like pine needles, cedar and leaves), they don’t break down to create a healthy soil environment.