Spring missed most of us this year. My garden went from days of warm to days of freezing to dry blazing hot days. Most unwelcomed plants seem to relish this weather. Quick weed (Galinsoga parviflora) is a plant that quickly fills in bare earth. This wild edible was imported to English, brought to America, and escaped into the wild. Young plants are excellent for garden nibbles and lends themselves to many cooked dishes.

Spring missed most of us this year. My garden went from days of warm to days of freezing to dry blazing hot days. Most unwelcomed plants seem to relish this weather. Quick weed (Galinsoga parviflora) is a plant that quickly fills in bare earth. This wild edible was imported to English, brought to America, and escaped into the wild. Young plants are excellent for garden nibbles and lends themselves to many cooked dishes.
Hornbeam copperleaf (Acalypha ostryifolia) loves to grow in colonies filling in any bare earth with green coverage. Studies show the spotted ladybug favors copperleaf over corn for egg laying. Once the eggs hatch the ladybug larvae drop to the ground and crawl to the aphid infested corn. Copperleaf becomes a beneficial plant by hosting the egg laying site.  The non-edible copperleaf has many important cousins; Chenille plant, Para rubber tree, Cassava, Castor oil plant, Leafy spurge, and Poinsettia.  
I use mulch to control weeds, but with the weather getting hot this fast, I have more weeds than I can control with mulch. And Hubby’s hands still refuse to recognize the differences in weeds and plants I want left behind. I’d rather he used the tractor to move mulch closer to the garden, loosen the mulch, and let me do the more meticulous plant removal and mulch placement.
One reason Hubby has trouble pulling ‘weeds’ is how I use nurse crops. A nurse crop covers the soil to help suppress the weeds while providing a food crop or green manure crop. Buckwheat, field peas, lettuce, and green beans can serve this purpose. These are planted where early cabbage or beets were growing. When I’m ready to plant late crops like kale or collards, I pull out the buckwheat and transplant the late crop. This keeps the soil loose, shaded, and somewhat weed free.
Anytime weed removal involves pulling up the weeds by the roots there’s concern of root disturbance. Long roots from a weed can intermingle with cucumber roots leaving me with a dying or dead cucumber. The cucurbit family is extremely sensitive to having their roots roused in any way. When I moved my vines up the fence, I tugged a bit too hard on one plant. There were no roots on the surface, but the plant promptly dropped all its fruit and flowers over the next two days.
I have used sweet potato and squash leaves as a living weed suppressant. There is a trade off when I do that. The plants become a jungle making the checking for insect infestation next to impossible. I have one bed mulched and one bed (at the end of the corn rows) bare. I’m still trying to get the rest of the garden mulched. If I don’t get it finished, I will find out how much difference mulching make. Squash vines will crawl through the mulched corn bed allowing me to watch how the plants manage both ways.
When I put the mulch down, I water the beds deeply starting at daybreak. Since out water becomes compromised in the summer months, I must find a way to use less water for the garden. When watering later in the day, don’t forget the sun heats the water in hoses to the boiling point and will kill plants.   

Linda Simmons writes a column for the Neosho Daily News.