How to get rid of weed seedlings rooted along the base of plants

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Q: How do I get rid of seedlings growing all over my yard? My street has these trees planted by the city and every year the seeds blow everywhere. I landscaped my front yard with cacti with many exotic aloe tree species. The seeds always seem to root along the base of my plants and they are virtually impossible to pull out. Help!

A: Some weeds are very difficult to pull out by the roots – either because of their location or because their roots are especially tenacious. If these seedlings are too close to your aloes and you either can’t reach them or can’t dig them out without damaging neighboring roots, there are a few options. If you can apply herbicide precisely to just the weed, you may be able to kill it without harming your existing plants. This can be tricky, though.

Another tactic is to just cut the seedling off at ground level. When it comes back, cut it to the ground again. Don’t give up! This is a battle that you can win because you have the pruners.

Q: In your column the other week, you discussed fig beetles and how to control them. I have a different type of beetle that is eating my figs but it’s not a fig beetle. It is much smaller and black with tan spots. What is it and how can I get it to leave my figs alone?

A: Carpophilus, or dried fruit beetles, are another type of pest that likes figs. They are less than ¼ inch long, oblong with black wings. The wings may or may not have lighter spots.

These guys like to pick on ripe or overripe fruit, especially figs. They prefer to lay their eggs on fruit that has already been damaged, but can also target the open blossom end of the fig.  When the eggs hatch 1-5 days later, the larvae eat their way through the fruit. Sometimes you can’t see that the fruit has been infested until the little white larvae (they look like tiny maggots) emerge from the fruit. I experienced this firsthand as I was fixing myself a breakfast of Greek yogurt with fresh figs and honey. Not a great start to my morning.

For my botanist friends: I know that the fig is not, strictly speaking, a fruit. And the “blossom end” is actually called an ostiole. I wanted to call it the fig’s “belly button”, but that would have generated more emails than my editor should have to deal with.

If you have a lot of these beetles, you can make the funnel trap that I described in the fig beetle column. The beetles are attracted to the smell of fermenting fruit, so use some of that for an attractant. Removing ripe and overripe fruit, including fallen fruit, will hopefully reduce the problem as well. If possible, select figs that have a smaller, more closed blossom end.

Have questions? Email [email protected]

Looking for more gardening tips? Here’s how to contact the Master Gardener program …read more

Source:: Los Angeles Daily News


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