Preparing For My Spring Battle: Wild Onions

Is it too early to be thinking about Spring lawn care and turf treatments?  I don't think so.  I need to put together my full annual timetable for the lawn.  But, before I do that, I wanted to post that establishes my main Spring lawn enemy.

Mid-April is one of the first milestones - at least based on last year's temperature:  that's when I put down pre-emergent on the lawn - mostly focused on crabgrass and other broadleaf/grass leaf weeds.  Last year, that was followed by a large-scale attack on something that we have present ALL OVER our backyard:  wild onions.  In late April, I documented how I was going around and attempting to dig out the full clumps of bulbs.  My turf was pockmarked with holes from the extraction all Summer. 

Come September, I used the soil temperatures to my favor and threw down some seed and soil in these holes and it germinated pretty fast

I seem to have managed the crabgrass piece of turf care and I'll likely follow the same setup this year (pre-emergent WITHOUT food). 

But, I'm now willing to declare my #1 mortal Spring lawn enemy:  These wild onions.  I put dealing with them on my 'preliminary' 2020 to-do list.  But, whenever I get around to writing the ACTUAL, final list, they will FOR SURE be on there. 

The reason that I'm bringing it up, is that I came across this gardening Q&A piece from a Cleveland radio station.  Yeah...weird outlet for me to read, but it must have been Twitter or something that got me there.  This is the piece.  The first question and answer was about wild onions.  In (this instance) a rose garden.  Here's the exchange between reader "Ashley" and gardening expert (they don't name) that was posted by the site's Webmaster  JR Eaton:

Full story here on Star 102 Cleveland's site.  
Wild onions are tough.  I'm going into year two with my battle.  The advice here is 3 fold:

1.  Don't pull them.
2.  Maybe smother them.
3.  Or spray them.

Welp, let's look at all three of their ideas:

1.  Pulling them.  I've heard the 'don't pull them' advice before.  And I believe that is true:  you can't yank these out by their stalks/stems/blades.  The bulbs naturally come apart and you might end up spreading them.  However, I've found that you *can* dig them up.  Like, dig up the full clump of them.  I started doing that this past Spring.  And I'm going to take a similar approach this coming Spring.  Where I see the clumps, I'll dig my spade in the ground and try to extract a full clump of dirt that encapsulates the bulbs. 

2.  Smother them.  That's new to me.  If these weren't in my yard, I'd certainly try it.  I'm trying the 'smother' technique in the far reaches of my yard and it seems to have worked.    Maybe I should expand the practice?  I do, wonder, how it will impact the soil quality, though.  It traps all new nutrients ON TOP. 

3. Spray them.  They recommend something called Bonide Burnout.  Haven't heard of it before.  But, it is an organic or natural herbicide.  That's kinda interesting.  They sell a concentrate on Amazon for less than $20.  It (I think) is a 1:3 ratio.  1 part Burnout, 3 parts water.  The one gallon version is just $20 more and is 4x the volume, so that might be the right size to get.  Besides...I have a new sprayer that I haven't talked about.  Let's go nuts, right?  Last year, I applied some Weed-b-gone to the yard because their chickweed/clover spray listed Wild Onions on the list.  That's a synthetic, so I'm pretty hesitant to keep using it. 

Out of the three from this Q&A piece, I think I've learned something:  think about this Burnout natural spray.

But, for those of you looking at trying to solve your wild onion problem like me, I think there's something else you can do.

That's:  "sweeting" your soil.  Or "condition" the soil.

To make it less hospitable to Wild Onions.

I had my soil tested and established a baseline.  You should do this. 

Based on the data, I then put down multiple applications of pelletized lime on the turf.  To "raise" the pH of the soil.  I did straight lime three times (April, August, November).  I went 'extra' in September when I put down one treatment of a "calcium+" product from Jonathan Greene.  This Mag-i-Cal Plus product has calcium to raise the pH, but it also is chocked full with microbes and other beneficial soil conditioners like humic acid and wood biochar.

That's what I'd call #4 for your wild onion problem:  Test your soil and if it can take some lime (or you can move the pH a little bit) and condition the soil to your favor.

The Wild Onions seemed to have come back FASTER than the grass greened-up last year.  As soon as I see them, I'll pounce.


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