Your weeding list
When weeds are seemingly taking over, do not despair! The continual growth of vegetation is a good sign for it means that the natural cycles of life, death and rebirth continue to be played out on the plot. It's when weeds stop growing that we should begin to really worry.
Nonetheless, words alone are of little assistance to beleaguered home-producers who want to nurture edibles and not the pretty wild flowers which seem to muscle in wherever soils are stirred and cultivated. Physically controlling weeds with hands and basic tools are the cheapest and most sustainable options, and certainly encourage the little-and-often mentality which is fundamental to food-growing success. However, occasionally something with a bit more clout is needed. This is where (dread word) weedkillers might be considered.
No chemical weedkiller is completely safe, but these days environmental risks are minimal with certain products when used intelligently and responsibly.
It is crucial to research the right product for the task in hand and read all the accompanying blurb. If in doubt, seek advice from the vendor.
Buy one get one free on main course and specials excludes fillet steaks and beef wellingtons
Must book to qualify and present voucher on arrival 01209860332
Contact: 01209 700617
Valid until: Wednesday, December 11 2013
The following are occasions when I've employed weedkillers to make life easier in the garden:
When red valerian was growing from a crack in the boundary wall. Being a wildlife-friendly tender of the soil, I was reluctant to deal with it when young because butterflies and other long-tongued insects found the sprays of pink, tubular flowers irresistible.
But before long the roots had vice-like anchorage within the wall and, swelling as they do, burst the mortar and caused collapse. Damage limitation in similar places is now achieved with a glyphosate weedkiller painted with a brush on to the leaves.
It is taken internally and distributed throughout the actively growing plant as a so-called systemic weedkiller.
When clearing rough grassland on heavy clay to make a bed for veg. Again, glyphosate was used. It's a non-selective weedkiller, which means that whatever plants it touches get killed. In this instance, it was applied as a solution via a watering can fitted with a T-shaped perforated 'dribble bar'.
Happily, glyphosate is neutralised on contact with the soil so once the plants have been infiltrated and killed no harmful residues remain and cultivation may commence.
Soil-acting weedkillers are applied to soils and taken up through the roots for translocation elsewhere. Ammonium sulphamate is one such which may prove helpful in destroying brambles and tree seedlings where rough ground needs reclaiming.
In this instance, woody growth must be cut and cleared before roots are treated, according to the manufacturers instructions. In light soils brambles are surprisingly easily dealt with by slashing and digging.
Bindweed is the bane of many a plot-holder. Deep-rooted, perennial and only conquered through non-stop pulling whenever seen.
Another option is to give this sprawling climber a stick on which to coil up. When leaves are numerous along the stem, paint them carefully with glyphosate. 'Spot-weeding' like this allows only target species to be treated.
Some words of caution: Follow all instructions for use, storage and disposal religiously. Wear old clothes and gloves whilst on the job. 'Drift' of fine sprays can easily occur on windy days. Serious accidental damage can occur so only weedkill on fine, still days unless you want to risk falling out with neighbours.
Note once a plot is actively under the spade and working, there is rarely a need to use weedkillers.
'HOW TO GROW YOUR OWN FRUIT AND VEG' by Joe Hashman (ISBN 978-905862-77-1) is available in good bookstores and Amazon, rrp £9.99.