Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Crop Rotations discussed

Are formal rotations necessary?

If anything would seem to be a fundamental part of horticulture, it is crop rotation. It is therefore with some hesitation that I challenge the value of the traditional three and four year formal rotation. If you read the popular gardening press it appears to be mandatory  for anyone who wishes to grow vegetables. Whenever I pick up a beginners gardening book there are complicated diagrams of how to precisely manage your plot!
I wonder how many allotment growers actually formally rotate. Personally I have always paid lip service to the notion of not following one crop with another of the same kind and more specifically not growing in succession plants from the same family. For example if I wanted to grow turnips, they would not immediately precede or follow cabbages. Actually if I was to be really truthful I don’t like turnips and delicious swedes (which we call turnips in the north) are best grown by a farmer!
As the years pass I find myself less and less a slave to the idea of rotation. I grow numerous brassicas and although I vaguely try not to follow one with another, I frequently fail. I practice a lot of inter-cropping and frequently one crop immediately follows another and for example I might even sow my broad beans under the canopy of not yet completely consumed sprouts (a rather unorthodox practice). I frequently plant in double rows or blocks and my layouts are more designed to efficiently use my enviro-mesh to keep off the pigeons, discourage the mice or keep the carrot fly away. If my only choice of planting site is near my wretched cherry tree when it is really dry in summer or planting one brassica after another the latter choice wins!

 I had a wonderful early crop of broad beans, but now soil under the cherry tree is severely dehydrated!

I have only just discovered wonderful enviro-mesh
Rotations as an advance in agricultural history

Rotation is a respected agricultural tradition. We all remember ‘Turnip’ Townsend’s four course rotation from our history lesson at school. It was a major leap forward in farming three hundred years ago.The four year rotation continued to be used for a very long time. No longer relevant in modern agriculture, much longer rotations that last many years still have a place and farmers who insist on mono-cropping have their own special problems.

The four course rotation was an important  innovation as intensive agriculture started to develop. Before that land was often left fallow from one crop to another. 
It was long before fertilisers had been invented. I imagine it likely that although artisans appreciated the value of animal manures on their own plots they were not initially much used in the new technology of farming. What an advance when nitrogen fixing clover was introduced and both turnips and clover brought browsing cattle and perhaps rootling pigs onto the land to add droppings and urine. 

Clover, peas and beans in a rotation all facilitated bacteria to fix atmospheric nitrogen and enabled this most valuable of nutrients to enter the ground in an available form.

Weed control was primitive and barely existed. Some crops such as peas were considered  ‘dirty’ and allow prolific growth of weeds, other crops like potatoes could be used as cleaning crops because of their strong weed smothering growth.

A rotation of crops probably helped to efficiently recycle organic debris and nutrients. 

Different crops have different nutrient requirements and might make varying nutritional demands of the land. In those days there was great merit in following nitrogen fixing legumes with nitrogen hungry brassicas. It makes a huge difference to the yield of brassicas to have an ample supply of nitrogen.

Some soils over the years can become acid and adding lime can sometimes increase yield. It was sensible in olden times that where lime was needed, it was best to apply it immediately before brassicas. Soil alkalinity reduces the severity of clubroot, a severe scourge of these plants.

If there was (and still is) a single major advantage of rotation it is reducing the infection and build up of soil borne pest and disease.

So why is a formal rotation irrelevant now?

A very significant disadvantage is that it commits the gardener to growing more of a particular crop than he needs. Worse it encourages an annual cycle with what many of we minimum cultivators regard as the decadent practice of leaving an empty, fallow, dug-over  plot to be leached, denuded and eroded by wind and rain throughout the Winter. Best for both the kitchen needs and soil fertility to grow vegetables in every season. 

Vegetables such as overwintered leeks, sprouting broccoli and sprouts will be in the wrong place when a new cycle of rotation commences.

On a similar theme, most modern vegetable growers grow more than one crop in a year. Many fashionable vegetable crops such a ‘salad leaves’ need to be resown several times over to achieve continuity. Many gardeners these days wish to explore the possibilities of inter-cropping, companion planting and green manuring. It’s very inconvenient and technically limiting to insist on growing similar plants together.

No rotations are needed for perennial vegetables such as asparagus and rhubarb. Not the best example of intercropping here
Some traditional reasons for rotation are just out of date! Good gardeners whatever their precise methods maintain good weed control all the year round. Many of us try to practice zero tolerance of weeds setting seed. None diggers refuse to bring ancient buried weed seed to the surface! My own peas and beans are just as clean as my potatoes! As a user of glyphosate I have no perennial weed to smother!

The balanced take-up of nutrients where various crops have different requirements now fails to impress. Organic gardeners, especially the none digging kind, maintain high level of soil organic matter which provides an excellent store of nitrogen and all necessary plant nutrients. Growers like myself do the same and are also prepared to supplement plant nutrient requirements with fertilisers. In whatever order we grow our plants they will not go short of nutrients and leaching of nutrients will be no less or greater than if we were to formally rotate.

The cycle in a rotation defined as ‘roots’ is fundamentally flawed and still supports the ‘baby-talk’ that roots require extra phosphate. There are so many different families of plants that develop fleshy roots (or swollen stem bases such as kohl rabi and some fennels).  Carrots, swedes, parsnips, beetroot all belong to very different families with distinct nutrient requirements. Turnips and swedes are also brassicas and are both susceptible to clubroot.

Does it count as a root or can you grow fennel anywhere? er, not in the lawn!
In fact many of the constituents of the formal vegetable groupings are rather a rag bag of disparate types. Even the RHS on its website admits that for many of the extended range of vegetables we grow these days it does not really matter about rotating. Plants such as sweet corn, cucurbits, french beans, runner beans, salads (a huge group) and peppers can by common consent be grown anywhere. When I think about that list it includes almost all of the vegetables I grow!  

My biggest objection to formal rotations is that they often fail in their main purpose of reducing pest and disease. In very small gardens the different sections are just too close together to properly isolate them. Rotations are too short to prevent clubroot which can survive in the soil for as much as twenty years. I know many gardens where clubroot has efficiently been dispersed across the whole plot on soil attached to plant roots - not necessarily brassicas - as they have been rotated around.

At least the crops are isolated here!
Club root
The only way this fungus disease will infect your crop is from soil. On dirty spades, boots and principally plants. There is no other way it will enter your system. Sad to say many gardeners inherit a vegetable garden completely contaminated and unless their name is Methuselah they will never see the end of it! It used to be such common practice to buy a few brassica plants at the market and - bingo, you had introduced this disease.
If you are lucky enough to be club root free, always propagate your own plants and do so in uncontaminated compost. In the past I have had some near misses when so called friends have insisted they give me a wonderful new brassica variety. After they have gone they go on the fire!. They must find me extremely incompetent when on their next visit their plants are not to be seen!
My allotment in Bolton Percy was clubroot free for the twenty years I cropped it. I cannot say the same of the adjacent plot that I took over from another gardener. Fortunately he did not have the plot very long and he had not had time to rotate clubroot around!. I knew the exact location of the infected soil and never grew brassicas there. It might have helped that I don’t dig and don’t do any cultivations that involve shifting soil. I have no idea whether there was any degree of spread from my numerous worms! I supposed it helped that the plot was long and thin! The fact that I did not have a compost heap and weeds were left to die in situ was not insignificant. If you move contaminated compost around you might very well spread this debilitating disease.

Can soil on a trowel spread clubroot around?
The good news is that you can get a very good brassica crop on infected soil if you use lime and raise the soil pH to 7.5. It’s not that brassicas really like to be so alkaline it’s just that club root hates it! This involves doing the complete opposite of rotation as pH 7.5 will be far too high for any crop that follows. By mono-cropping you might still enjoy all those lovely Winter greens! 
I use lime in the form of dolomitic limestone which provides both calcium and magnesium

Nice cauliflowers even with clubroot if pH is high - but the soil must be fertile

Closing thoughts
I have run out of time! I wanted to explore each of the following.

1.Mono-cropping of tomatoes.
 Little and Large of tomatoes Albenga (Mole seeds) and Sweet Million (Marshalls). Both are more pest and disease resistant than similar Marmande and Gardener’s Delight. Too much of a challenge for even these fine varieties as the soil has not been changed for five years!
But badly grown tomatoes taste very nice

2.My peppers now looking good resown and planted in the same soil for four years now.

3.Considerations when replanting  perennial crops such as raspberries, strawberries and blackcurrants.

My Autumn Bliss have been in place seven years now. When I replace them I will choose a new site

4.Specific replant disease.
5.Whether there is a need for rotation in the ornamental garden.
6.How some different plants do specially well and others particularly badly, when one follows another.
7.Whether garden and natural ecological successions are inhibited or promoted by pest and disease. 
8.Gardens I know where it is now impossible to grow delphiniums and trilliums because of soil contamination. 
9.Not to mention brother-in-law Dave who has white rot contaminated soil and has had to stop growing onions.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Wild flowers in Tignes

I you have alighted on this page hoping to find precise botanical identifications of alpine plants you might be disappointed. If you would like to hear a gardener’s reminiscences, pictures and interpretations of wonderful French alpen flowers you might wish to stay. Personally, lacking precise knowledge of alpine plants, it is a revelation, how many wild flowers one actually recognises as delicate versions of one’s own garden plants, and later, with the help of the computer, the thrill of finding their actual botanical names.

Regular readers will wonder how Brenda has yet again dragged me away from my garden. This time up 2500 meters to a skiing resort in July! The silver spooned old lady on the London bus (free to UK pensioners) who engaged Brenda in conversation, had it right when she declared that the flowers would be absolutely stunning.

Tignes is one of the very best skiing resorts in Europe and has re-invented itself as a place to go to throughout the year. Summer sports of every description are there, be it fully organised tournaments and matches, individual tennis, badminton, table tennis or cycling. As an adult or a child you can turn up at almost any of the magnificent indoor or outdoor sports facilities and get a game of soccer or basketball at the drop of a hat.  It is heaven for the fit sporty people who take their holidays there. 

The ski lifts are open to elevate the thousands of mountain-bikers who speed down the numerous safe, but to our eyes, rather treacherous tracks. You can ascend in the large ski cabins, usually without charge, to just admire the views or walk in the mountains. 

There are hundreds of well signposted, even-surfaced paths to enjoy the second-to-none scenery and absolutely astounding carpets of flowers. You are overtaken by muscled, determined, speedy walkers and while we are repeatedly down on our knees examining the flowers they do not  have the eyes to see them.
In July before the full Summer school holidays but after the skiing, is one of the down-seasons. Everything is still open but it isn’t crowded. It is really the very best time for the Spring flowers. Yes, Spring flowers in July!

Our apartment is somewhere in there. The brand new church is an exact replica of the one completely submerged in the new dam
We are there to meet up with Brenda’s family. The parents could only stay for the weekend and we were to take charge of Rufus and Felix (or more precisely they organised us) until Thursday before being relieved by sporty Uncle Iain who arrived for glacier skiing and serious mountain walking.
For the few days  when we were allegedly in charge we could take the half hourly complimentary navette 200 meters up the mountain to the main Tignes town. To a very limited degree we joined in with badminton, tennis and table tennis but opted out of the football and optic shooting. It’s very frustrating for Brenda who has played badminton and tennis at a fairly high competitive level and can now barely see the ball, even less move to intercept it! Some of the time we were left on our own to walk round the lake and enjoy the flowers.

Forest gump

It was easier when Iain arrived with a car. One of our walks in the mountains was early in the morning and the kids were barely out of bed when we returned at noon. Iain continued that particular day spraining an ankle at basketball and falling off a mountain bike almost dislocating his thumb. We started to doubt our transport for the first leg of our journey home!

The flowers

The area near to our apartment was still something of a building site – albeit very smart and somewhat up-market! Huge volumes of rock had been moved and massive equipment continued to be used excavating new foundations. The vegetation in the rubble of the new man-made landscape in similar circumstances would be  untidy weeds at home. Here too, although interspersed with a few alpen flowers it was substantially first-colonized with weeds such as hogweed, dock and willow herb. But what weeds – the blazing white huge handsome stately hogweeds were quite stunning as were other umbellifers, many in numerous shades of pink; huge luxuriant docks, traditionally used there for cooking, looked ready for harvesting and it might be hard to imagine how beautiful willow herb can be! 

In contrast the more mature man-made landscapes as you walked through the towns, round the lake and up in the hills were habitats for exquisite and rare mountain plants.

There is something of the night about bartsia

Not all the plants were alpines in the sense of the word used by gardeners when describing dwarf plants. Although shrubs such as wild roses and rhododendrons tended to be somewhat more compact, many of the herbaceous perennials were  tall and luxuriant, especially at the lower altitude at 1500 meters. As you went higher - we got up to 2500 meters -  and left the protection of the valleys, plants became smaller.  Apart from a genetic disposition to be small, the effect of low nutrients and wind pruning, and as you go higher, the increased ultra violet light, keeps plants petite. We had an illustration of the healthy clean air and intense bright sunshine when Iain, straight from London offices, quickly turned pink!
He had neglected his sun screen! Personally as I am outside all the year round I don’t use the stuff and prefer to enjoy sunshine’s health enhancing effects and of course vitamin D. Never-the-less if walking at such altitudes all day I might be persuaded to conform to fashionable mores. 

Up to this dam was as high as we walked
Our walk in the mountains

We departed Tignes 1800, the name the tourist board are failing to establish for the new lower part of the town next to the magnificent EDF dam, and added 700 meters of elevation in Iain’s hire car. We arrived for our walk at 8am in the still chilly mountain air. It was a beautiful sunny morning. Here high in the mountains the plants were truly alpine.
A friend of Iain’s had previously expressed surprise the there were reedy peat bogs at such high elevations! There are hundreds of varying niches up there in the mountains and although many plants are ubiquitous, others only thrive in specific locations. Sites not only vary in altitude, there are differences in aspect, exposure, pH, moisture and soil. Some plants grow in pure rock! The melting snow from higher elevations, numerous springs and early Summer rain creates many unique environments. Some plants in well drained scree receive a constant flow of well oxygenated water with very varying nutrients  and pH.  Later in the season for some plants drought will prevail. What glorious diversity.

There was plenty of water
At home we associate the encrusted saxifrage with well drained scree. Here on a water splashed rock a moving film of oxygenated water provides a natural hydroponic system!

The only irrigation for this sempervivum is rain.
The harebells even grew in the track

Dryas octopetala associates with nitrogen fixing bacteria and even when growing on rock does not lack nutrient

Yellow rattle is a parasite of grass and is used at home to reduce grass vigour when creating  so called ‘natural’ landscapes

We were informed on return to our apartment that collecting wild flowers is illegal!

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Who will be coming to Open Day?

Boundary Cottage, Seaton Ross, York
Sunday 7th September 11am to 4pm

Boundary Cottage is scarcely a cottage and has very few boundaries. It is not in the village, just follow the large yellow signs.
It comes around again, my Open day on the first Sunday in September. It's a red letter day on my calendar when I show off my garden. Everyone rallies round. Marilyn and Dave drive up from Oxford to act as general factotums and organise the parking. Brenda has a long list of handy-man jobs for Dave, the only one in my family who is remotely competent. There are two changes this time. Brenda is doing the teas and Peter Williams is coming to sell his wonderful plants. He has a fantastic nursery as his passion is propagation and has hundreds of rare high quality plants that are desperate to find a good home. There will also be my usual five for £10 offer of my own smaller plants!

Hardy cyclamen are everywhere. There are sure to be some in my plant sale!

My brassicas are somewhat perforated. With little sign of caterpillars it is probably the snails. The super-sweetcorn called Lark is the best one to grow and is available from Mole Seeds and Marshalls.
I have cut the hedge with my wonderful new Husqvarna specially for you
I was a little disappointed to have only just over a hundred visitors on each of my two open days last year. This is why this year there is the only one. I have been opening my gardens nearly thirty years now and must admit how spoilt I used to be to get many hundreds of visitors when I lived in Bolton Percy which was nearer large centres of population. Now we watch approaching cars and hope some of them will stop!

Will anyone come?
Numbers vary greatly, very much depending on the weather. Poor Peter four years ago when he opened his own garden for the first time had four hundred visitors. Two years ago the weather was absolutely foul and his thirty visitors where mainly friends and relations! 
I have previously offered the opinion that he has one of the finest gardens in Yorkshire.

Brenda complains less about my shallow containers of alpines now that she has cleverly placed them
There may not be many of you but we love to meet you and talk about gardens and plants. We get many lovely surprises from who actually comes! Some folk come regularly. One lovely lady used to be  as regular as clockwork. We were always pleased to see her when she was always first to arrive with her husband and dog. She always made a beeline to the plant stall and he took off for a two hour walk in the country. She always remembered to reward him with something from the cake stand. Her husband I mean!

Cake will be served in our conservatory

When I started blogging I hoped it would help to promote my Open day. Silly me, most of you are too far away! My other innocent thought was that the Open day would promote my blog. That was rather naive of me too. We did however meet the lovely Little family last year who open their own garden and organise their own county yellow book scheme. Pauline now regularly makes very helpful contributions in my comment column.

Not many gardens sport hardy opuntias growing with a bog plant. The bog weed must be a blogweed!
Blogweeds are defined as weeds that arise in a bloggers’ garden when they are too busy writing!

We have bloggers who come too. Sue Garret and Martyn came last year and took many super pictures. Sue is quite a card. I apologise again Sue, for mistaking you for Zena Lovett and if you do come again there is a small clivia waiting for you!  

Sue might appreciate the problem with fallen bird seed from the bird feeder just over the wall on the edge of the farm field. These blogweeds are birdweeds!

It is always a thrill to meet returning visitors, former acquaintances, neighbours and clients. Perhaps best of all is to catch up with former students not seen for years. It is visitors who make the occasion.

I have just been pruning my golden Metasequoia glyptostroboides which has opened up the view.
Multi-million year fossils of this tree are found in the UK. Does this qualify it as a native plant?

The dicentra scandens has flowered profusely this year. Please help yourself to some seed

As my none dug soil is firm and settled you can walk anywhere. Please don’t stand on this rim or you will find yourself in the water.

All my tub plants are growing in soil
Please say hello or ask a question. If you just want to walk around or enjoy tea and cakes or look over the hedge at Cathi's garden we will not disturb you! Her rheas are still there but Spike is getting old and cantankerous and will have to be kept at a distance.
Twin-ponds. We have battled this year with water soldiers. Some remain as sentries. I sometimes need to drag out the duckweed.

All the pictures were taken ten days before Open day to give you a flavour.

If you want to know more about my garden put 'open garden' in the search box at the bottom of the blog. 

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Glyphosate roundup

More on using glyphosate

If you are new to using glyphosate you might wish to read these posts before reading this one. I do not recommend the advanced methods below for new gardeners who don’t know their plants.

For inexperienced sprayers if you just jump in you might kill your garden and for those of you who would not touch glyphosate with a barge pole this will confirm all of your prejudices. If you are in the latter category and read on out of curiosity it might make you shudder.

My notes today are more in the nature of updates, methods you might have missed in obscure posts and just a little new stuff.

My current brand of glyphosate is called Rodeo. A correspondent recently mentioned he had sourced Gallup! It continues to amaze me the names they dream up that evoke images of the old coral for this generic product.

Glyphosate always gets the blame
I always used to warn students. My own advice reared up and kicked me when I took early retirement and went freelance and had my own clients. Twice I jumped and resigned before I was pushed! (I proclaim my total innocence). I could tell you several amusing stories but dare not in public. Perhaps I dare mention an occasion when another gardener, the most careful and experienced of sprayers was killing grassy weed near conifers that the previous Autumn had been moved without adequate nursery preparation. The junipers were destined to die when it turned windy and dry in the following Spring. With exquisite timing the grass and the conifers turned yellow at the same time. Need I say more?
Even at college, a colleague would go around the borders and each year point out 'herbicide damage' on a clump of acanthus with chlorotic Spring foliage. These exact symptoms are due to inadequate iron uptake when the soil is wet and cold. It is a very temporary effect and is to be seen in gardens that have never seen weed killer.
I used to tell students that you could kill plants with impunity if it was by conventional means such as chopping up roots of plants by digging, by pruning or failing to water or almost anything! It was deemed just part of gardening.  However a few yellow leaves with transient herbicide damage was a mortal sin.
If you were to make a list of merely categories of causes of unexplained sickness or death of plants it would take several pages. You can be sure if herbicides are used in the garden they will always get the blame. I have even blamed them myself with my own spraying before the real cause of damage became apparent.

This is NOT glyphosate damage but looks really like it. These temporary symptoms happened  as a result of a cold sunless week after the very hot weather last month. The actual photo was taken on our holiday in Tignes. There was zero chance of glyphosate having been used within miles!
But accidents do happen
Over the last forty years I have had my share! The commonest happenstance is walking on sprayed weeds and then on the lawn. Herbicide footprints are very embarrassing and it will take a couple of months for the damage to grow out. 
An accident born of lack of understanding is when a knapsack sprayer is not 'sprayed out' to empty the diaphragm after using glyphosate and then is used for another purpose such as weed killing the lawn. I have done this once!
An incorrectly inserted or worn nozzle can sometimes cause inconvenient drips. 
The most spectacular damage I have seen was on my recent holiday in Costa Rica. A hotel gardener had a rip on the sprayer hose. There was a wriggly thin line on the grass verges of the complete campus.
It is more difficult for me to analyse the damage caused by the inexperienced or carefree sprayer. I can claim to spray the whole of my intricately planted acre garden without damaging a single plant. This might sometimes be less true when I visit my cemetery gardens and I find a patch overgrown with weed and I am prepared to accept a little 'collateral' damage when I speedily spin round more than an acre! Even here where I might cause some transient damage, unless I wish to do so, I never kill an established plant.  

Bolton Percy cemetery was weed free on this visit
And so was Worsbrough!
I cannot repeat often enough glyphosate is not of itself selective and successful spraying needs skilled direction and seasonal timing. It helps if you have an intimate knowledge of the susceptibility of your plants. The inexperienced sprayer will take too long to spray because he is far too careful, but at first, perhaps this is not a bad thing. As you become confident of your skill you can quickly get round.
It is perhaps worth mentioning that if a mature large well-established perennial plant just gets a tiny whiff of careless spray you will probably never even know. (Not true of some soft vegetables!) Strong plants have the metabolism to withstand small quantities of poison. This is in contrast with where you deliberately spray plants all over and exploit a large leaf area to deliberately kill them!

If using glyphosate is to be a significant part of your gardening it is well worth getting a proper professional knapsack sprayer. It will cost you between 100 to 200 pounds. It will be much better than cheap amateur versions and for most, but not all tasks, much more accurate than a small hand sprayer. 
I know I have described spraying round relatives's small overgrown gardens with discarded detergent sprayers but I do not really recommend it! Your new knapsack sprayer will last 'for ever': compare the cost with that of your mower! One final point, if you are as bad with flat packs as me, buy your sprayer already assembled! It is perhaps impossible to flat-pack a tank!

And what if you inadvertently spray a whole plant?
It might be more retrievable than if you had chopped with a hoe or a spade. If you are near a convenient water supply, immediately wash the spray horizontally away with a can. (Don’t let it sink-in in the immediate root zone). If not near a water supply, more desperately, covering with dry dusty absorptive soil may help to soak up the spray. 
For many plants immediately cutting off contaminated leaves may be a sure way to save it.

I had raised two Phygelius capensis plants  To my shame, not concentrating, I heavily sprayed this one six weeks ago.
In the interest of a bloggery I did this demonstration
Last week it was still sick but sure to recover
My other plant had been planted in Cathi’s garden and shows how the plant should look!
Note in this picture her thriving plant has been slit-planted into sprayed-off turf.
Some less usual selective methods
If you have a precious plant growing in a totally overgrown patch of perennial weed you can sometimes successfully save it by cutting off it's leaves and spraying the weeds - but I offer no guarantees.
Another alternative is to carefully lift a plant and pick off all pieces of perennial weed root and in extremis carefully wash the roots before planting in clean soil. Only return to its original place when all weeds are killed. 
I have sometimes covered precious plants with overturned plant pots before safely spraying around them.

Another demonstration. Not realistic here, it would be easier to hand weed, but if the weed happened to be couch grass the method might be relevant! The weedy soil is NOT from my garden (please don’t ask).
I can never understand why gardeners find common bindweed difficult to control when it is so sensitive to glyphosate provided it is an intact plant, has luxuriant leaves and ideally it is July! Some gardeners tease it out from surrounding plants and spray little bundles at normal dilution with a hand sprayer with the weed top isolated in a plastic bag. Too slow and fiddly for me. I have personally treated similar little twirled out bundles in herbaceous borders by merely pulling the bundles away from the precious plant and carefully spraying. Even more daring when it is clambering up old hedges, conifers or shrubs just carefully spray the bindweed with a hand sprayer. It will often provide its own screen of protection if rampant! Provided perhaps 80% of the bindweed is sprayed and your privet just gets only a smattering all will be well.

Another technique when for example well established perennial grass such as couch grows through a herbaceous perennial  - or even easier, a coarse shrub - is to wet your gloved hand with dilute glyphosate and just smear the weed. A student once asked why I just didn't pull it out. He was missing the point!
Modern dabbing techniques and gels are too time consuming for me!

And finally a story
A professor showed his horticultural students a picture of a huge weed that his herbicide had failed to control. He asked them what he should do and they offered all manner of alternative herbicide solutions. He then declared that they should just pull it out. My own attitudes to weed control are more well rounded than suggested in my glyphosate posts as I explain here. Only last week I spent a couple of hours in my Bolton Percy cemetery garden pulling out cleavers/goose grass and cutting  impatiens down with a sickle. If anyone finds a sickle in the cemetery, it's mine!

Last year I posted about controlling Japanese knotweed. I described Peter William’s glyphosate injection technique and promised to report back this year. This August there is no sign whatsoever of any regrowth and we conclude it is dead. 
The green shoots in the picture are snowberry and montbretia and indeed the remarkable thing that over the whole patch all wanted plants are completely unharmed.

Bindweed extra

Bindweed, common convolvulus. If it was difficult to grow everyone would want it. 

No sooner had I finished writing the above post we made an unexpected visit to Steven in Folkestone. He has moved yet again! This time the house is built into a cliff on Sandgate Hill. Formerly a very fine garden, children and boxer dog permitting it might be again if we make enough visits! Almost completely neglected for 18 months although full of fine plants, it is completely overgrown! The ten foot curtains of bindweed were absolutely magnificent.

I was envious that in the balmy Folkestone sea-side climate that this fine Zantedeschia was established as as a perennial plant.
What a chance to put my money where my blogging mouth is. I have said often enough how easy it is to control bindweed given the right conditions and every time I metaphorically hear "this man is an idiot". 
I asked Steven whether he wished to keep this lovely plant. He was rather decisive that he did not!

Everything was right for a speedy and definite kill. The bindweed was completely intact and wonderfully strong growing and luxuriant. There had been heavy rain the previous night to perk it up even more. Now dry, it was a warm sunny day. Even better it remained hot and dry for the rest of the weekend. In my opinion July is the very best time to kill bindweed.
My weapon was a small, cheap, very accurate hand sprayer. The exercise was to clamber through the steep garden spraying all the leaves of the bindweed without spraying the plants. Amateurs excessively fear any spray might be misdirected onto their plants. It takes a very unskilled careless sprayer to harm husky privet, ancient griselinia, ceanothus, hebe, any conifer and almost any large vigorous shrub. 
You need to aim to cover at least 80% of the bindweed leaves. I managed 90% and made quite sure I did not miss a single weed. My spray was a strong one for me, 1 in 50, commercial 360g glyphosate to water - about three and a half UK  teaspoons in my litre of water.

Sprayer cost £2.40
Practice with pure water first. Take the nozzle very close to the convolvulus leaf and gently pull the trigger. For the sprayer illustrated move the trigger only part of its travel. A complete pull in little stutters will separately spray several individual leaves. This will be the most skilled parts of the operation. All the other variations will be quicker and easier.

I had to be careful over the rose. The conifer hedge would be almost impossible to harm!

Usually the canopy of bindweed leaves will be make its own cover over a section of your plant. Vary your direction of spray to wet them and not your plant! The bigger the drift of bindweed  the quicker you can be.

The convolvulus was so thick here I had to lift the draped curtain to reach more leaves below!
Usually bindweed binds very loosely! Un-twirl little bundles and pull them away from the host and spray them. Even in herbaceous borders you can do this if you gently pull out the clusters of bindweed away from your plants.

Wind a cluster round your hand
Often the position of the bindweed will help to make it easy and speedy to spray. If it clambers over soil, hard surfaces, walls, old ivy, or none-green shrubby bases it makes work very easy. Great curtains tumbled down over some of Steven’s walls. It was the work of a few seconds to spray tracts of a meter!

Vast swathes tumbling down
I had to be very careful where a few delicate plants grew under the shrubs and small trees. Twice I needed to pull herbaceous perennials away from the overgrown shrubs. On one occasion I cursed when I sprayed a hidden day lily. It thanked me when I tore off the few contaminated leaves!
It is most important to tackle every single bindweed plant. In Steven’s case I had to fight my way to and even beyond his boundary to get to all of the weed.

I had to stretch to reach over the pond
In the 300 square metres of garden there must have been at least a hundred vigorous clumps of bindweed. Steven tells me that after a week they were completely yellow and were  starting to shrivel. He will see them no more this year. I am completely confident that 90%of this bindweed will not appear again. The few plants I might have missed will be eliminated next year. It took me less than two hours for the complete operation. I needed one litre of diluted spray.

Was it my imagination that when we departed Sunday lunchtime that the convolvulus growing over the  jasmine was already starting to yellow?

Wear your normal garden clothing when doing this work. You might wish  to use waterproof gloves. Remember not to grab desirable plants with wet hands!

All that trouble and this idiot (me) at home is actually growing Ipomoea 
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