Do you ever use Preen?

nan-6161(Zone 7 Long Island, NY)March 10, 2008

Hi everyone,

I am wrestling with myself on the question of using pre-emergents in the garden beds early in the spring.....

I haven't very much in the past, mostly because before discovering WSing, I really counted on all that "reseeding" from flowers to fill up the beds. But after last years WS harvest of plants and the one I anticipate this year, I do not really need or have room for "volunteers". Yes, I love how my cleome, argeritum and a few others just "arrive" without doing a thing (and in these beautiful, natural "waves") but I am thinking it may just be time to use a 3 month preemergent (like Preen) to combat weed seeds from sprouting and growing too.

Why? Because I just can't do another summer like last one! Weeding,weeding,weeding. I had used up a great deal of my "garden energy" Wsing and planting those plants out and really felt resentful that every weekend I had to go into the beds and weed just to give my WS babies a chance to thrive.

But I am on the fence. I don't like the idea of using chemicals in the garden, especially since we are on a well water system. I'd love your thoughts, experiences, wisdom, etc....



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shimla(5 Upstate, NY)

Have you considered corn gluten as an alternative? I can't personally comment from experience but have read good reviews about it. Here's a short write-up about it.

Here is a link that might be useful: corn gluten article

    Bookmark   March 10, 2008 at 8:08PM
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kqcrna(z6 SW Oh)

Do you have a scuffle hoe? They make fast work of weeding, unless you let them get way too big. Circle hoes, too.

Lee Valley has both


Here is a link that might be useful: scuffle hoe

    Bookmark   March 10, 2008 at 9:44PM
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nan-6161(Zone 7 Long Island, NY)

I do have a scuffle hoe, but not a really good one (love lee valley stuff!)and maybe I should invest in one - mine only "sort of" did the job last year. I still had to spend many hours each weekend on my garden scooter (I have bad knees and pull weeds by hand from the scooter)

The real problem? I have too many beds for one person to "keep on top of" easily. And I keep planting more...

We are looking into a watering system and that will help me have more time (cause when I wasn't weeding last year, I was moving hoses around!)But I do fear with more frequant watering, I'll just have more weeds!

oh's the other thing. One reason I have so many weeds is because I do not have mulch on the beds. Again, I liked the reseeders and believe plants do that better when their seeds can "hit the dirt" more easily. But now I don't want them to, I'd love to apply mulch, but the expense of the water system is going to hit the garden budget hard and not leave enough leftover to mulch every bed (cause I have too many..this problem just goes round and round! I've looked into cheap mulch (chips from landscapers, etc) but not had any luck. And buying a chipper is yet another expense I'd have to add to the list.

So... that why I am attracted to Preen. I don't use any other chemicals but I just have an icky feeling that this is a "bad" one. Yet, I am tempted.....

Anyone willing to admit they've given into the temptation? Does it even work?


    Bookmark   March 10, 2008 at 10:14PM
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albertar(z7 LINY)

Get the kids and yourself and start scrounging for bagged leaves. Bring them home, empty a few bags on the ground, take a rake and look carefully through the leave that no stones are large heavy twigs are in there, then take your lawnmower and run over those suckers. It helps if you have a bag attachement on the mower, but it can be done with out the bag, and then use those shredded leaves for mulch/and or compost. Down in this area (down by the reservation) there are literally hundreds of bags of leaves sitting out side of peoples houses.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2008 at 1:18PM
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rosewomann(z7 MD Montg. Co)

I don't because I often weed bare handed & I don't like the idea of touching all those chemicals. My neighbor does it twice a season & she says it really works. I'd like to try the corn gluten, but where do you get it?


    Bookmark   March 11, 2008 at 3:20PM
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mnwsgal 4 MN(4)

I also use leaf mulch to prevent weeds. Very rarely I find one or two weeds then pull them up easily. My time is spent planting, pruning, and cutting flowers. No more weeding necessary.

In MN I completely cover all my beds with shredded leaves in the fall to protect plants for the winter. Come spring, the mulch is pulled back from the crowns of the plants and left around the plants except for areas where I want volunteers then all the mulch is removed.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2008 at 3:27AM
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I have always wondered about Preen also.

I am an organic gardener,most of the time weeds don't bothere me,but along my walk way,i can weed every other day,i,too,spent way to much time weeding last year,my daughter thinks i am crazy to be starting new beds,cause i have a hard time keeping up with the ones i do have,ha ha,she may be right.

We have many frogs and toads in our yard,since they breath through their skin, i don't use any thing that would harm them.

I do use a lot of leaves and free mulch,i used left over rubber liner last fall, it is coming out ASAP,What was i thinking!!!!!!!!!!!

    Bookmark   March 12, 2008 at 12:38PM
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shimla(5 Upstate, NY)

Rose - a local garden store should carry the corn gluten. If you have a feed store in your area, I would check there first. You might find it a more reasonable cost.

Nancy - I have run into the same problem here. I want larger beds but don't want to contend with weeding them all season. New beds are the worst! I think that once you embark on really large gardens, you have to learn to live with some weeds. It's almost impossible to keep them immaculate all of the time and it gets to the point where heavy mulching is out of the question.

I am trying to work on more long term approaches so it's not such an issue. I plant things close together and pack my beds so there is less room for weeds to grow. I'm working on growing steppables this year to use for ground cover. Mat forming ground covers help choke out weeds. I have an abundance of leaves. I did a garden tour last year and on one stop they guy used all chopped up leaves for ground cover. It looked really nice! I always thought it would be messy looking. Last fall I mowed up piles of them and set them on the side to top dress one of my beds. From what I'm reading here, it sounds like the way to go. I'm gardening in pure sand so I know it's going to be beneficial to my soil. Do you have any leaves available?

You could always use the Preen if you feel that is the way to go and then over time cut back as you get your beds under control naturally. You might be able to get a few small beds naturally weed-free this year and then slowly work on methods to get the rest in check.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2008 at 9:34PM
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nan-6161(Zone 7 Long Island, NY)

Thanks for all the input---keep it coming! I did check with our local "weed specialist" at Extension (I actually work there but not in the Agriculture/horticulture department)and he said the corn gulten (as a natural product)likewise the leaves will form a helpful barrier "crust" for a while but will break down pretty quickly. I THINK what I understood was that both are nitrogen rich and will then be very pleasent places for weeds to grow on top of! So I guess with both you have to keep adding more on top.

I walked my beds today and already see volunteers and of course weeds. I am, naturally, smitten with the volunteers (how can I try to stop these things mother nature is trying to provide?)so I am leaning towards a mixed bag approach for weeds/volunteers for this year. When I rake out the leaves I've left in the fall to cover the beds and keep them warm, I will pile them up, hit them with the lawn mower and put them back in the beds. But I might use a little preen on walkways..places where I can't have leaf mulch and a few places that just never get my "first shot" when I am out there weeding and tend to get out of control. I guess what I am saying is I think I've decide not to "randomly broadcast Preen" into the beds but use it selectively in spots. I think that makes sense.

I'd love to know if it really works though... no point putting it anywhere if it doesn't.

We also had "irrigation guys" here almost every day this week giving us estimates. Looks like some kind of watering system will be in place by the late spring. And that will give me a whole lot more time for weeding! I fear the weeds will grow even faster with regular watering though...

    Bookmark   March 15, 2008 at 10:55PM
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