Thursday, 29 March 2012

6 ways to keep weeds at bay

Have just spent a few happy hours at allotment and will pay for it tomorrow - back already twinging!
The sun was fierce - a sun hat was essential kit today.
Folks often ask me: How do you keep on top of your weeds so successfully?
The answer is really simple - just remember:

One year's seeding means seven years' weeding. 

It really is that simple!

Every time I visit the plot I walk around it and pick off any stray dandelion flowers etc. both on the plot and in the surrounding grass edging before they get any chance to seed. And I also, whenever I have a few moments, take a hand fork or trowel around the plot and dig out any perennial weeds such as dandelion, dock, etc. making sure the deep tap root is removed as far as possible. Leave any root in and the weed will spring up again.

I also never ever rotavate the soil with any kind of mechanical digger. Apart from being cruel to all those worms, that we should be encouraging, the digger shreds up any perennial weed roots so that the weed problem is multiplied many times over! Not a good idea!
The digger also produces a fine tilth that is as as good as any seed bed - perfect for encouraging germination. The problem is it encourages all the weed seeds to germinate as well - they've been lying dormant beneath the soil waiting for just this moment!

Then again - if I know I am going to leave a patch of soil bare for any length of time, I cover it with a thick layer of manure. If you don't have this readily available, then old carpeting or black plastic will do the trick - or why not sow some green manure seeds - such as annual sweet clover - and dig the resulting growth into the soil before it seeds.

So - just a few ideas. And I certainly seem to keep on top of those weeds without too much effort - valuable time and energy is best spent growing the vegetables, not fighting weeds!

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