There is one thing that unites us as gardeners – our dislike of weeds! Competing with our carefully tended plants for light, space, water and nutrients, and often more vigorous in growth than our cultivated varieties.
If like me, you are busy with work and family, it’s all too easy to turn your back for five minutes, only to discover that you are growing a beautiful display of dandelions. The veggie plot is covered in bindweed, and goosegrass is forming superb ground cover throughout the flower borders. After sighing despondently I decided that it was time to take back my garden.
There’s one golden rule in the war against weeds – know your enemies! This will help you decide which weapons to choose in your battle against them. Annual weeds, like shepherds purse, hairy bittercress , goosegrass and chickweed will only live for a year. However, they seed prolifically and spread with ease. For this reason, it is best to tackle annual weeds before they have a chance to set seed and multiply. I like to catch them when they are in flower as they are easiest to spot at this stage.
Luckily most annual weeds have quite shallow roots so they are easy to pull out by hand. Larger patches can be quickly dispatched with a hoe which will sever the stem from the roots. This is best done on a sunny and dry day when the stems will quickly shrivel up and die. If the area is otherwise uncultivated then a sheet of permeable black plastic will slow the progress of annual weeds by cutting out light and preventing their growth. This can be a handy technique if you are preparing the area for a crop later in the season.
Of course, for many gardeners, the most reliable method is to use weed killer. More on that in part 2 of my war against weeds blog !
Plants and gardens have always been a big part of my life. I can remember helping my Dad to prick out seedlings, even before I could see over the top of the potting bench. As an adult, I trained at Writtle College where I received my degree, BSc. (Hons) Horticulture. After working in a specialist plantsman’s nursery, and later, as a consulting arboriculturalist, I joined Thompson & Morgan in 2008. Initially looking after the grounds and coordinating the plant trials, I now support the web team offering horticultural advice online. I have a keen interest in drought resistant plants and a passion for perennials, particularly hardy Geraniums. I previously stood as regional secretary for the International Plant Propagation Society which gave me lots of opportunities to see what other horticulturalists were up to in their nurseries and gardens.