Friday, 15 November 2013

Weeding

Left to grow, weeds will take all the moisture from your vegetable plants' roots and smother their light. Your attentions are all that stand between your beloved plants and a weedy grave. There are two types of weed: perennials and annuals. Annuals are easy; you just hoe them or pull them out of the ground, ideally before they flower and set seed and cause any more trouble.


Perennial weeds are however different. You can chop off the tops of bindweed, dandelions and horsetails for years and they will keep bouncing back, zombie-like, due to their network  of  horrendously  persistent roots.  For good perennial weed control you have to clear the whole bed before planting, pulling out every  root, and then guard against encroachment by digging trenches and inserting boards.

What the weeds want you to do is rotovate the plot and make the soil look crumbly and manageable, whereas in fact, all this does is chop all those maddening roots into tiny, ready-to-sprout pieces and spreads them around more efficiently than even they themselves could manage. Don't do it. It is not the easy option it appears to be.

There are two lazy alternatives to digging:
  • spray with a glyphosate-based weed killer, which clears perennial weeds  almost  instantly, but puts paid to any  romantic organic notions. 
  • cover the soil in a layer of thick black plastic and hang about for the weeds to exhaust themselves searching for light, however this does take a year or two.

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