Great advice for weeding your garden
Weeding your garden
Probably the least loved task in the vegetable plot, it is also incredibly satisfying. A freshly weeded bed with a smart row of vibrant plants look fantastic. Weeds are thieves of the moisture, nutrition and light that should be going into producing your vegetables, and need to be removed as soon as possible. Weeds also provide a haven for pests and carry diseases that could affect your crops, such as clubroot that affects Brassicas. However, I have accepted that a weed free plot is something that for now I can only dream of and instead I Developed a pragmatic approach to dealing with weeds. Prevention is easier then cure, so I mulch wherever I can to deprive weed seeds all the light needed to germinate and also whizz around with the hoe. I concentrate on keeping the crops that are more likely to be affected by an in infestation of weeds, such as onions, shallots and carrots, Weed free by shallow hoeing once a week or once a fortnight in the growing season, which only takes about five or 10 minutes each time. Some crops such as courgettes, rhubarb and pumpkins are likely to shade the weeds out, their vast leaves depriving weeds of light rather than vice verse, and will continue to produce with a few weeds around. Well established and nourished fruit canes or bushes will also tolerate a few weeds and continue to give a good crop. So in these situations weeds are less of a problem and can be ignored for a while, but they have to be tackled eventually.
As well as spending my weeding time on the crops most likely to be damaged by the competition, I also look out for the worst weeds. It is worth getting to know weeds and their habits. Annual weeds are not so much of a hazard and are unusually easy to pull out and can be thwarted by chopping the tops off with a hoe. The real difficulty comes when annuals flower and a set seed as they can produce hundreds of seeds all programmed to germinate where they fall in your vegetable plot, so annual weeds need to be removed before they set seed, and the same goes for perennials such as dandelions. My father used to bend down
to pick off the heads of dandelions. The plant might have remained but he had prevented thousands of seeds from being distributed through the garden. So if all else fails simply pick of the flower heads, which only takes a few seconds, buying you a little time. Perennial weeds that spread underground and pop up all over the garden, such as ground elder and creeping buttercup, present a different challenge. Left to spread they can get really established, snaring your plants in a mesh of roots that takes time and patience to remove. So it is common sense to tackle these as soon as you can and make any effort to wheedle out all the roots that you can get to, and even a small section left in the ground can regrow. Bindweed has a root system that may extend several meters into the soil, so the only option is to remove as much of it as you can when it pops up and keep on top of it in the hope that it will finally run out of steam. few people can keep a weed free plot; just spend what time you have to remove the weeds that matter, and mulch and hoe as much as you can to prevent the weed problem before it germinates.
Know your weeds
Annuals: chickweed, groundsel, hairy bittercress, annual nettle and fat hairy hen.
Perennials: docks, dandelions and brambles.
Particularly invasive perennials needing immediate action:
creeping buttercup, ground elder, couch grass, bindweed and or horsetail.
This may seem like a task that really doesn’t need discussion. However, there are a couple of points worth Knowing. If you have time to hoe between carrots and onions even if the soil appeared to be free of weeds as this will remove the growing tips of weeds before they break the surface. If you are hoeing off young seedlings ensure they cannot re-root if you can, hoe on a warm, sunny day when routes will shrivel in the sun. Finally, hoe as shallowly as possible so as not to bring up more weed seeds into the light where they can germinate.
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