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How to eliminate wild violets from a vegetable garden

Q: My vegetable garden is totally taken over by those wild violets. I keep pulling and they keep growing. Endless job. I am planning to weed and turn over the garden and weed again. I’ve heard that the best time to spray to kill the wild violets is in late fall. My question is if I do spray in the fall — what should I use so that I can plant the vegetables again in the spring. Is it safe to spray weed killer and plant in the spring? Thanks

— Ed Frack

Sue Kittek

MONICA CABRERA / TMC

Sue Kittek

These cute little plants can be a nightmare for both lawn and vegetable/flower garden lovers. The sweet things are very invasive and very difficult to remove. They spread by seed and underground root. Digging, as Ed mentions is tedious and at best, a long-term, perhaps lifetime, job. However, it is one of the environmental safest and best choices, particularly in areas where edible plants will be grown.

If you must use an herbicide, select one that specifically targets wild violets, follow all instructions and use as little as possible. Wild violets are perennial, increasing removal difficulties as you must fight not only the new ones, but any old plants or bits of roots you missed the previous season. The leaves have a waxy layer that provides protection from many herbicides.

The best time to deal with violets is in the spring or fall. I found no agreement on which is better. However, fall would seem the best for any area that you plan to grow in the spring. Spot application is highly recommended but seems almost as intensive as digging each one out.

You need a post-emergent herbicide to be effective; one specially listing safe for food gardens. A

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