The arrival of spring brings new life to the garden. But it also brings weeds.
The definition of a weed is ‘a plant in the wrong place’. But tackling them is important. They can look ugly and spread like wildfire, plus they take valuable soil nutrients and moisture away from our plants of choice.
Getting control of weed populations early on in the year will save you endless grief later on. Once they grow, establish and set seed, it’s much harder to eradicate them. So let’s get stuck in now.
Types of weed
Weeds can be divided into two main groups: annual and perennial.
Annual weeds are those that grow, flower and release their seeds in one year. The parent plant dies in autumn but only after it has spread around the garden. Chickweed and bittercress are annual weeds.
Weed after it rains when the ground is softer
Perennial weeds are those that come back every year and can live indefinitely. Nettles, brambles and dandelions are all perennial weeds.
How to remove weeds
The best method to get rid of weeds is the same as it’s always been: simply to remove them from the soil. Dig them up. Pull them up by hand. Just get them out. There is no getting away from it – the best weeding is done on your hands and knees.
Pull your weeds before they seed!
Small weeds can be pulled out by hand. Large or perennial weeds can be dug out with a fork or trowel. Try and remove the weed whole, including all of the root system. Some weeds are incredibly resilient and can regenerate from just a scrap of root left in the soil.
If you find it hard getting down on your hands and knees, try using a hoe. Put the blade on the ground and pull it towards you, severing the plant stem.
Bear in mind that this method only kills annual weeds and young seedlings. Established perennial weeds will come back again, so you will need to do it regularly.
Think of the bees
Our bees are suffering at the moment, so anything we can do to help is really important.
You can do your part by waiting to kill your weeds until shortly before they go to seed, because bees are dependent on the flowers of weeds.
Mulch, bark chip, and weed fabric blocks daylight and inhibits growth
Make your own liquid fertiliser from stinging nettles:
- Find one large container with a lid
- Cut nettles to fill the container, do not use roots or plants with seeds
- Chop finely with hedge trimmers
- Add rain water from your water butt allowing a fairly large gap between the lid and surface of the water
- Set container in a warm and sunny spot to help speed up decomposition which cases a form to appear on the surface
- Stir every few days
- Filter out debris and use the clear liquid solution 1 :10 (one part nettle solution to ten parts water)
- Poor directly onto roots
How to dispose of weeds
This is important – do not put the weeds on your compost heap. Some people say the roots and seeds get broken down, but I don’t take any chances. You don’t want to dig the weeds back into your garden borders!
Throw weeds in your green wheelie bin, if you have one. Or chuck them on the bonfire, and say goodbye to them forever.