Kate Hardy

Keep an eye on those wily weeds!

Kate Hardy

Whether you’re an organic gardener who doesn't use chemicals, or someone who sprays to be rid of them, weeds are a garden problem we can mainly do without!

Heading out to the garden is becoming a pleasure now, but there’s almost a sense of dread if you’ve not been on the plot for a while at this time of year – what kind of a jungle will I arrive to? Just which weeds have decided to roam free and wreak havoc, suffocating my lovely seedlings?

They say weeds are ‘plants in the wrong place’ – a philosophy I agree with mainly, but there are just some that can’t be looked on as sweet, romantic wildflowers, they’re just too pernicious! 

There’s no point in growing our own fruit and veg if all the water and nutrients gets nabbed by hungry weeds. They won’t go away, but if you get on top of them now they’ll succumb to the war you wage for the most part. 

Prevention’s better than cure, right? So you can be formulating a plan with some effective measures. Weed membrane is an under-used allotment option – cover over the plot and create holes for plants to grow through, then cover with a bark mulch. General bark, humus and manure mulching on beds does a fantastic job early in the season of stopping weeds in their tracks before they can get going. Elsewhere, for an attractive, fulsome look to ornamental borders, grow a nice mat of ground cover plants to take up every available space – weeds won’t get a look in.

As for curative methods, I’m one for advocating manual weed control – I think wildlife is just too precious to mess with a lot of chemicals – and so frequent hand-pulling and hoeing will give you a good work out and take care of the lion’s share. You could also get tooled up with a flame thrower gun to kill them dead instantly!

If you’ve got equisetum, or mare’s tail, it can be really disheartening, so use of glyphosate weedkillers is sometimes preferable. A few applications every week or so in late summer will slowly weaken the plant and go some way to eradicating
it. Be careful using weedkillers in general – be sure of what you’re aiming for and cover nearby plants so they don’t get in the way of the harmful spray.

At the end of the day, you can also assess what’s most damaging in your garden and leave a few less vigorous, pretty weeds in corners for shelter and food for our wildlife friends.

3 essential... hoeing tools

1 Dutch hoe

If you only buy one hoe, get the classic dutch for a clean, heavy slice through weeds.  

2 Onion hoe

Smaller hand hoe – not for onions specifically, but for steering gently around any plants.

3 Double hoe

Use the mattock side to break soil and dig down to weeds, and the fork to aerate.

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