IPM Disappointment   1 comment

One of my current outdoor projects right now is weeding, specifically, removing catchweed bedstraw from a patch of the front lawn, planter, and wherever else I find it. This was a project that I knew was coming since there was no way to avoid scattering the seeds as I removed the dead vegetation in the yard after we moved in. However, I forgot all about it between last summer and about a month ago when I noticed the weeds sprouting. This weed is one of the few that I am immediately inclined to eradicate, because the leaves have little hooks that catch on everything and the plant has an annoying climbing habit. I wanted to check for the best way to get rid of it before delving in because weeding the wrong way can sometimes make the problem worse, or expend great energy to make no progress at all. So I went to the University of California Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program website (and then did an internet tour of several other state/university IPM websites) to identify the weed and then find out the particulars.

Unfortunately, the websites didn’t really answer all of my questions, and I’m really disappointed by that. I am a big believer in IPM, which is an ecosystem-based approach to managing pests. That means using strategies like varietal selection, and mechanical andĀ biological control, before resorting to pesticides. In this particular case I was worried about the “catchy” nature of the catchweed bedstraw, since it seems like most plants that develop clinging mechanisms do so to help them spread. My big questions were “does the entire root system need to be removed” and “can this weed self-propagate from pieces of leaf left behind?”

The first question was sort of answered, but second question didn’t get answered. Every website did state that it spreads through seeds, and the UC website says “Cutting catchweed bedstraw to 2 to 3 inches usually is not effective and has been reported to actually increase biomass production up to 30% compared to uncut plants.” There was no explanation as to why cutting it results in more biomass, so I can’t rule out that it might be able to propagate from the leaves even if I think it probably just means that the plant branches out more to make up for the loss of height. I was really disappointed at how sketchy the information seemed to be on these authoritative websites, and I was really disturbed by the number that seemed to skip straight from “remove it before it seeds” to “here are the pesticides that work”. IPM is supposed to reduce pesticide use, so shouldn’t there be more extensive discussion of non-toxic control methods? Or am I being too demanding?

Maybe I’m just being too demanding. In any case, these weeds will not be going into our compost until I am assured they will not resprout, but will instead go into our green waste bin since “weeds” are specifically listed as acceptable material.


Posted March 7, 2011 by mayakey in environment, gardening

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One response to “IPM Disappointment

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  1. Pingback: Lawn Weeds « Love Knowledge Zeal & Fortitude

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