Sunday 1 July 2018

The pleasure of spraying

Ten days after my first and only visit
Thank you Iris for the pictures
Today I try to persuade you of the advantages of glyphosate and to direct you to my articles that explain how to spray.

I was almost singing and had a smile on my face. It was a fine sunny morning. I communed with my garden and the birds were singing. I was wearing a knapsack sprayer - half filled these days.

Not as anyone who has been on an official spray training course might imagine vigorously pumping away and walking in straight lines. Just a gentle meander intimately at one with my plants. A gentle pull on the trigger here and there. My hand in my pocket to reduce the temptation to squirt with too much pressure, almost relying on gravity flow.
My long lance almost kissing the ground. Few new weeds to be sprayed, barely sufficient to keep the gentle flow going. Close concentration, making small decisions, noting jobs to be done and delighting in my healthy plants.

The thought occurred that I should share with you my joy especially those of you who might imagine spraying stressful or even a sin. Being a warm Spring day there were just a few more weeds than usual and it took all of two hours to spray every last weed in the whole acre of my intimately planted garden.
When the next day I was spraying in Bolton Percy cemetery and a visitor remarked my efforts looked very relaxing it reinforced my decision to tell you.

It was the most healthy and vigorous couch grass I have ever seen
Iris’s two octogenarian friends have a new allotment and she enrolled me to give them a starting off spray. She shares with them several neat lovely weed free beds but the overall surrounds of edges, paths and under the soft fruit were overrun with vigorous luxuriant weed. It included the most vigorous couch grass I have seen for a long time. A relic of a previous owner unable to cope and who had inadvertently propagated couch as he tried to extract it. I am confident that my single spray will completely eliminate it - its condition was so receptive in its intact luxuriant condition. Such an easy weed to control if you do it right.

As a ‘half size allotment’ there was perhaps a hundred and fifty square metres of weed. Unfortunately a light wind was getting up, perhaps 10 mph. Just safe to continue.
For such an area I needed a little more pressure, perhaps two or three intermittent pulls on the handle. My cone nozzle pointing firmly down the spray was released about three inches over the weed as I hoovered around. It took all of five minutes and ten minutes later we were back for a coffee. I remembered to shuffle my wellies on soil before walking away on the grass path.

The vigorous rhizomatous grass was completely killed under the raspberries. I am told a very fine crop is well on the way now
Although most gardeners and almost all garden  professionals are happy to use glyphosate on new overgrown sites and continue to use it on such as paths, open spaces, under hedges and and in the time between one successive crop and another very few dare use it as intimately as I do between clumps or individual plants. The very thought of even minutely damaging a plant with glyphosate is taboo and not on their radar. (They will kill with abandon using spades and similar but that is alright).

Six days after spraying, not yet dead but well on the way. Note that on the distant allotment the couch is invading the mown path. Hence the yellow edge where I killed it as my client requested
I just have to accept that for various reasons my methods just don’t wash with most gardeners.
Although the press beat a path to my door thirty five years ago when my cemetery garden in Bolton Percy was created and my methods of managing large floral landscapes with levels of labour that were way off the bottom of traditional scales, I know nowhere else similar large areas so managed. Other than my own!
Now I have ceased to spray and maintain the Cemetery garden at Worsbrough I fear how they will manage.

On the other hand Bolton Percy churchyard is in good hands and the cemetery team already do a limited amount of spraying. Indeed they have persuaded me to continue a few visits a year to ensure the weeds do not get out of hand.

Peter Williams has a new project
Regular readers might now have discerned that other than gardening I am not very good with practical things. Some doubt the gardening too. 
When Peter Williams offered to trade me my handyman jobs if I would do his spraying I jumped at the offer. 
He admitted that although he had zero reservations about spraying he found it a burden.

Peter's nettles had got out of hand amongst the raspberry canes
Already in his debt for mending my tap and repairing my pergola I was down the next day. My first task was to spray his hard surfaces and to sort out the overgrown part of his nursery. Always complementary he expressed surprise at my accuracy, boldness and speed. He declared amazement at how little spray I actually used. 
Wonder whether he will think the same next week?

Not only nettles and brambles but a rubbish dump too
I had intended to report my second visit to Peter to spray his overgrown wood. My efforts have so enthused him he is starting a new project making a wildlife garden. I will be back there many times! In a few months time it will make a post of its own!

See the brambles high up in the trees
One spray clobbered these brambles. New growth (after strimming) will need another spray in six weeks time
After a week the nettles were starting to die
Dozens of scrubby trees have to go including this one girdled by a deer
The man himself
Links to my major glyphosate posts
I have tried on my blog to leave a series of posts that describe my unorthodox methods. Nothing is original and one way and another all work and are successfully used by others. I have a lifetime experience spraying in gardens and hope many gardeners have learnt something from what I pass on.
My object today is to tie together links to a few of my better efforts.

Roundup is not selective and does not discern between a plant and a weed. You provide this and it is called selectivity. The main elements of selectivity are direction of spray  and timing.
Relevant to timing is that glyphosate is particularly useful in winter.

Impatient gardeners think glyphosate slow when it takes weeds several days for weeds to die. I explain how glyphosate is quick.

I wrote here how Marie, a relatively inexperienced gardener could significantly speed her weed control by investing in a knapsack sprayer.

Although several posts have examined projects where a new garden was created on weedy areas - notably Lyndi’s field and Cathi’s grass verge - this was an instructive early post about clearing the village plot.

Although most of my projects use glyphosate almost exclusively for weed control my actual philosophy at home is that the best approach to weed control is little and often and in the round using all available methods. I like to ring the changes in my own garden. Today is dry and windy and I will be out hoeing


  1. Yes spraying saves a lot of work but actually I hate spraying. I'm postponing it again and again, now there is too much wind, but I always try to find excuses to delay.

  2. I used glyphosate to clear my daughters allotment, now bindweed has invaded the raspberry bed. How would you tackle that or do I have to dig up the raspberries and start again?

    1. You must have missed my recent post on convolvulus Brian. It was in May
      Its a doddle!

    2. I had read it Roger, I never miss a post! I had taken on board that July was the most effective month to spray bindweed. I am just a little nervous spraying over plants you wish to keep. I do do many of the things you suggest in your post. So spray now, try to avoid the raspberries as with all desirable plants.

    3. You are very loyal Brian - even Peter sometimes misses a post and Brenda never reads me (Thats's why I dare to be rude about her at times)
      Yes you need to be very careful. Although convolvulus is very susceptible at the moment so is the new soft growth on raspberry- and blackberries and raspberries are very sensitive.
      Perhaps you should limit yourself to twirling out convolvulus shoots and laying them on the ground to spray as well as any pulled well away and twirled round your hands.
      Had it been a month ago you might have found you could have sprayed under the leaf canopy as I have above pictured on Peter's nettles under his overgrown raspberry patch and similarly the couch on the allotment
      PS if you can pull 50% of a strong vigorous bindweed away from its 'host' it will be probably enough to kill it


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