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Gardening With Laurie: Use molasses to treat nutsedge weed

Nov. 4, 2010 at 6:04 a.m.

Laurie Garretson

BY LAURIE GARRETSONIf there's one subject that all gardeners seem to agree on, it would have to be their dislike of weeds. I know they're just a natural part of gardening, and I know that weeds actually warn us the soil is not quite healthy enough. But having weeds can be a real pain.

I believe I get more complaints about nutsedge than any other weed. Often referred to as nutgrass this is one type of weed that no one wants to find in their lawn or garden.

Being a green grass type plant, many people tell me they just give up trying to get rid of it in their lawns. They figure it's green and grass-like so it's much easier to just let it be.

Nutgrass doesn't actually hurt anything in the yard, it's just a very persistent, pesky weed. The problem is that nutgrass will spread. It spreads by creeping tendrils, seeds and nutlets.

One of the worst things you can do when trying to eradicate it, is to reach down and pull off the grassy top. The next thing you know, it has produced multiple plants from the nutlet that was left behind in the ground.

So, if you decide that you are going to get rid of this weed by digging it up, you must get down into the soil and take the nut, roots and all. Any nutlet left behind will live to produce the next crop.

Don't think you can get rid of it by letting it dry out. This little weed, as most other weeds, is very hardy. It will grow in moist or dry soil.

Fortunately, someone has found an easy organic way to get rid of this weed. All it takes is some time and some horticultural wet or dry molasses. You can use food-grade molasses, it will work. You'll just pay much more for it.

Molasses is a great sugar source for all the beneficial microbes that are found in healthy soils. Molasses provides the microbes with energy. With all that energy the microbes can't help but to work at top speed. All this beneficial action going on in your soil is a very good thing.

As the microbes are doing their thing, the nutlets of the nutgrass will be digested along with all other kinds of organic matter. After some time, you will begin to notice the nutgrass starting to turn yellow and will eventually die.

To use the liquid form of molasses to kill nutgrass mix to cup of molasses to one gallon of water. This gallon mixture can be used to cover 9- to 10-square feet of weedy area.

If you prefer to use the dry molasses, use it at the rate of 5 to 10 pounds for every 100-square feet of area to be treated. Re-apply once or twice a month. It usually takes a few weeks to begin to see results. Be patient, it does work.

Molasses is also beneficial to use, in less amounts, along with any of your organic fertilizers. Mix cup of liquid molasses per gallon of water when feeding any type of plant. Be aware that molasses will burn plants if not applied at the proper dilution rate. So, don't think more is better in this case.

Until next time, let's try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to laurie@vicad.com or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.

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