By Jennifer Olvera, Garden Guides Contributor
Lamb's quarters weed, is a member of the goosefoot family and is common throughout North America. It's a rapidly growing summer annual with dense clusters of miniature flowers found at the tips of the main stem and branches; it's also distinguished by rounded or triangular white-scaled, dull, blue-green leaves above that often are purple below. Depending on the amount of moisture the area receives and how fertile the soil is, lamb's quarters weed can reach a height of 6 feet and can be found anywhere soil has been disturbed.
Lambquarters weed prefers rich soil and can most often be found in vegetable gardens, along roads and in open fields. Lamb's quarters weed, when young, can be controlled by cultivating plants with a sharp hoe or spraying them with an organic herbicide. Older plants can be pulled, but this should be done when the spoil is moist.
Cultivation and Care
Lamb's quarters weed needs bare, loose soil in order to become established, so it's commonly found in compost piles, newly established turfgrass, waste areas and fallow fields. Regular mowing and maintenance helps to control and,within a month or two,eliminate lamb's quarters weed.
Applying a layer of mulch to your garden that's at least 2 inches thick helps to discourage the germination and growth of lamb's quarters weed by preventing light from seeping through. Alternately, vegetable and flower gardens benefit from an application of organic materials, such as wheat straw, grass clippings or mulched leaves.
Weed Control Techniques
* Mulching, pulling, tilling, hoeing and preventing the weeds from going to seed are the best methods for controlling lamb's quarters weed, which has a short, branched taproot and therefore is easily removed. If you are having trouble removing lamb's quarters weed or it breaks off at the crown when pulling, slide a kitchen fork, dandelion weeder or other garden tool beneath the weed, prying it while pulling the weed up and out of the soil.
* Pre-emergent herbicides, such as trifluralin, can be used to prevent germination of seeds; post-emergent herbicides like 2,4-D, MCPP and dicamba also are effective at combating lambquarters weed. Or, you can try using an organic herbicide that contains acetic acid or clove oil.