The Q&A Archives: A Potato Weed?

Question: I have a weed that I was told was a potato weed(from that family) and it grows like crazy. I put lime in the soil last spring and then used a plastic covering this year to grow my vegtables through. It is a long weed that grows several bead type seed pods and as you pull it or move it drops seeds everywhere making it almost in possible to clean up. It spreads like crazy and I would like to know is there a better way to rid my soil of it? The plastic was great but it continues to grow through any openings.

Answer: If the weed is a member of the Solanum family, it's probably one of the nightshades. The berries are poisonous, so be careful around the plant. The secret to is to keep the plants from flowering and producing berries. The plastic mulch you're using eliminates light, which keeps the seeds from sprouting, but anywhere the plastic has an opening sunlight can penetrate and seeds can germinate. You can place additional mulch over the plastic to cover any slits or tears and keep sunlight from penetrating. Since the weeds are annual and should be coming to the end of their lives, pull any remnants from your garden. Then add some mulch material over the plastic. Next spring, if new weeds sprout, pull them while they're small and before they have a chance to flower and set seed. If you keep at it, you'll eventually eliminate the pesky weeds.

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