Herb Robert. Is it a weed? Only if it’s in the wrong place!
You might by now associate me with using glyphosate all the time. Out of necessity in my cemetery gardens and on the village plot this is true! What I do at home is different, I use every method in the book (and not in the book). Repeatedly using the same method of weed control every time, creates an ecology that will allow specific unwanted plants to thrive. In my glyphosate-sprayed gardens, epilobiums are a menace because they are resistant.
Epilobium. Blows in on the wind and my worst weedMy old foreman Alec Fox, called rotavators ‘chickweed cultivators’. He was referring to how this weed loves damaged ‘fluffed up’ soil and very significantly how any deep cultivation brings buried weed seed from below.
‘Little and often” should be the rule for weeding. Tackle the weeds when they are small, better, very small. Do not remove them, let them dessicate and die, let them contribute to recycling nature’s organic matter. If you keep on top of the job and never let them set seed (to some extent we all fail) weed control becomes easier and easier as the years pass. A lady once told me she just loved to tackle an overgrown patch and transform it. This is completely wrong! Whilst she is having her fun,the rest of the garden is ‘going to pot’. My own philosophy is that if I have weeded, I do not want people to say “ Roger what a good job”. I do not even want them to notice. I prefer “it looks rather scruffy with those dead weeds left on the surface!” Gardens are best managed for the long term, not for the day.
There are two distinct components of weed control. One is the control of established perennial weeds, the other is tackling weeds that come from seed. Elimination of perennial weeds, I have discussed in my glyphosate posts. Best get rid of them before you start planting. If you have couch, convolvulus and ground elder among your herbaceous plants you are in big trouble. A lady once asked me how to get rid of perennial weeds in her overgrown borders filled with rare and expensive plants. I gave her a few tips, but really I was thinking “I would not start here”.
I get rather cross when almost universally, books and experts refer to the second component of weed control as ‘annual weeds’. Nonsense, weeds from seed might be annual, biennial or perennial. The methods of control will be all the same - provided you tackle them when they are still very small.
|Hairy bittercress. Grows all year round. It’s very tasty to eat!|
Tools and methods for controlling ‘weeds-from seed’
I am not proud, I will use any method available. I will ignore the ridicule! It’s important to maintain vigilance all year round. Weeds such as hairy bitter cress, annual meadow grass cleavers and a myriad more, germinate and grow at any time of year.
- Hand-weeding. The most accurate method for weeds in difficult places. Throw them on the ground to dessicate and die. In my own case, I know that if in wet weather they regrow I will get them with the Roundup next time!
- The dutch hoe. You can recognise a good gardener by his gleaming hoe. Its a joy to skim off weed on a dry summer day. On a dry windy day it’s even more successful, but perhaps less of a joy!
- Any hoe! The onion hoe is particularly good for working among small plants - picture from marshalls
- The spade! To skim or scrape, or even insert vertically to ease out a dandelion or dock, but not to dig.
- A wire lawn scarifier. Particularly useful for liverwort and moss. In the right place I love these weeds but they can also be a curse.
- Your boot! A gentle scrape on settled none-dug-soil - even if frozen- will break the neck of the bittercress or separate a rosette of epilobium from the ground.
- Anything to hand.
- secateurs, very useful to flick out a weed growing between cacti
- garden shears, when cutting back herbaceous perennials bend a bit extra to hook out a weed
- a knife.
- a garden fork
- a rake - anything!
- A knapsack sprayer. It is truly amazing how accurate you can spray glyphosate if you are careful. Spraying is the only easy way to get rid of established perennial weeds.
- A hand sprayer. It is surprisingly how quickly you can apply glyphosate this way.
Moss. Is it a weed? Stick a latin label on it and visitors will love it