It’s the kitchen garden, mostly. There are weeds everywhere, of course – though a plant only counts as a weed if it’s in the wrong place – but they don’t matter unless they’re smothering the plants that actually should be there. They do, in this case. There are three main culprits and the way the garden has been cultivated has made matters worse.

Many years ago, the only problem was a small patch of bindweed in one bed. I kept it under control, though it couldn’t be eradicated. Then, one year, a load of manure that was delivered was evidently infested with thistledown, which merrily colonised the whole area. In the last seven or eight years, a third plant; green alkanet or bugloss, whichever you know it as, has also taken hold. The problem with all three is that they are perennials with deep roots and they seed as well. Wince, our gardener, doesn’t hold with digging and he brings his rotavator round, which just chops up the roots and spreads the plants to a bigger area.

Now, Wince, who is conscientiously obeying the social distancing rules to the limit, is not coming round, so it’s up to us to do the weeding. Luckily, I’d decided last autumn, to get on top of the situation – I intended to take this summer to do so, with a lot of smothering and not much growing, but that’s changed and I’m growing a full garden of veggies again. But, in the first instance, I’ve been putting down soaked newspaper and a layer of straw, and both of these have really helped. Raking them away, there are few weeds showing, whereas the beds I didn’t do are as weedy as ever.

I prefer a no-dig garden, in theory, but that’s no good for now. There are just too many roots that have to be removed. Rose and I are tackling them, but some areas are slow going. However, we’re both the determined types – though there’s a streak of natural and totally justifiable indolence in us too – and we’re going to get this done. Carrying on with the weeding all summer is not my forte. I rely on Lovely Tim to encourage me with promises of delicious food and wine as a reward.

One comment on “Weeds

  1. Blue Witch

    The RHS did a trial a few years back and concluded that there was no mechanical/non-chemical way of getting rid of bindweed.

    What they recommend is putting long bamboo canes next to bindweed plants in spring, then, when the bindweed grows up, painting the leaves with glysophate (eg Roundup gel).

    I have a total aversion to all things chemical, and we are almost totally organic, but after years of chopping off just the tops of bindweed, every time they grew, in an attempt to weaken each plant so that they eventually died (which never worked) we gave up and tried this method. It really does work.

    In a food or bindweed scenario, I can (just about) tolerate this method, and the painting-on protects other plants and the soil. Once eradicated, we’ve found that it doesn’t come back.


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