I was at an herb sale yesterday and had to laugh when I saw they had sorrel for sale. Oh, of course they were selling the well behaved, easily contained French sorrel, not the take over your garden and kill your plants red sorrel.
Sorrel Comes In Many Forms
Sorrel is a fickle plant. There are several different kinds of sorrel, which are mostly innocuous. Garden sorrel, or French sorrel (Rumex scutatus), grows in an easily controlled, tidy clump and has a tremendous tangy taste that is great in salads. Then there is Creeping Wood-Sorrel (Oxalis corniculata), it too is edible and has a similar tangy, lemony taste. It is not related to either the French sorrel or the red sorrel, as you can tell by the botanical name. You’ll find this in most gardens as a weed and it grows in abundance in wooded areas around the US. It is easily eradicated, if you get it pulled before it sets seed, as it doesn’t send out any underground runners like our villain plant does.
The bane of my existence, however, is red sorrel (Rumex acetosella). It too is just as edible as the other two, but in order to keep up with it in my garden I would have to eat a large bowlful a day. No matter how hard I work to keep it out of my gardens, it works harder to take them over. I just spent the last two days cleaning sorrel out of my front perennial garden.
It has this really irritating way of sending it’s underground runners right through the middle of the root ball of my perennials, making it nearly, if not in reality totally, impossible to get it completely out of my garden. I ended up digging up four or five of my perennials in order to picked the sorrel runners out of the root ball and then replanted them. They had been so overtaken by the sorrel that I wasn’t even sure the plant was still alive under all the sorrel leaves. I hope they survive.
I have yet to find a cure for red sorrel. I’ve searched the Internet several times and all I find are other people moaning about it taking over their gardens. The only thing that has worked, to some extent, is to dig the soil down to about 8” and pick out every single tiny little bit of root I find. They are usually easy to spot as they have a more golden color than most roots.
Garlic Leaves Hidden Time Bombs
The second runner up for my least favorite plant, is wild garlic. We have it in abundance here in the mid-Atlantic. Every spring you can tell when the weather is going to turn, because everyone’s yard will have patches of tall spiky garlic all over them. They are not as bad as the sorrel, but they give it a run for the money.
The thing about wild garlic is it makes lots of tiny bulbs all around it, so when you pull up the big plant there may be dozens of babies left behind. I learned to loosen the soil and then open it up so I can see all the little bulbs and get them out, too. Miss one and you’ll have another plant in the same location. At least they don’t try to smother all the other plants around them, like sorrel does. However, after pulling up dozens of plants in the same garden as the sorrel, I’m going to talk to my friend Jeanne and find out when you can cut them to the ground and they’ll never come back up. It’s supposed to be done during a special time of the moon’s phase, but I don’t know which one. I’ll try and remember to ask her tomorrow.
Now, I know that both the sorrel and the garlic are telling me my soil needs more work, as they both favor acidic soil. However, they could do it in a much nicer manner!
On a side note, we’re having severe thunderstorms here, some of which has spawned tornados in other counties surrounding us, but the hummingbirds are still faithfully going back and forth to the feeder. I wonder how they manage to fly through the rain, as I would think the drops would be like being hit with a huge sledge hammer, they are so tiny and fragile, yet back and forth they go. I’m so glad the replacement container for my bigger feeder arrived today. I’ll put it up tomorrow so that they can have plenty of food to rebuild their strength after their long trip from down south.
Vote For Your Least Favorite Weed
So, which is your least favorite weed, and why? Do you have a solution to share, so that everyone can purge their gardens of unwanted, invasive, smothering plants?