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Dump weeds for free

Island County wants to help South Whidbey residents rid themselves of noxious weeds -- this weekend.

Tansy ragwort and Canada thistle plants are beginning to bloom, said Judy Feldman, program coordinator for the Island County Noxious Weed Control Board.

This weekend, Feldman said, residents can dump bagged noxious weeds for free at the Island County transfer station in Bayview.

"Property owners need to understand that controlling weeds on their land is their responsibility," Feldman said in a press release. "Taken step by step, such control efforts do not have to be overwhelming. Anyone who has questions about how to control weeds on their property is more than welcome to contact me. I'd much rather take the time to help you figure out a plan, than to have to contact you and tell you your neighbors have been complaining," Feldman said.

Already, for many areas of the island, it may be too late to keep all of the plants from going to seed, but control efforts now will definitely keep many of them from spreading further.

Feldman said Canada thistle should be mowed, but no shorter than 5 inches unless you can mow every week. Cut thistles left on the ground can still go to seed, so they should be raked and bagged whenever possible, she said. One mowing will not kill the weed, she said.

It can take up to five years of concerted effort to kill existing plants by mowing, and even then there will likely be new seedlings that will require continued control. In other words, consider Canada thistle control an ongoing project.

To make matters even more complicated, this noxious weed spreads even more effectively through its root system than through seed production, and cutting it too short, or rototilling, can actually make your problem bigger because these actions encourage root bud growth.

"There is no silver bullet when it comes to weed control," Feldman says. For more information, contact the Noxious Weed Control Office at 321-5111 Ext. 7327.

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