Weeds on the allotment

by Jane Moore

The weeds are growing like mad this year. They seem to love the combination of spring showers and sunshine we've been having lately. Sadly, the fine weather is having as positive effect on the weeds as it is on me.

Speedwell flowerThe weeds are growing like mad this year. They seem to love the combination of spring showers and sunshine we've been having lately. Sadly, the fine weather is having as positive effect on the weeds as it is on me.

Speedwell is one of the moist prolific weeds in my beds. It's actually quite a charming plant, with little blue flowers and a creeping habit. But it gets everywhere. It has a nasty habit of hiding under plants, where it sets its roots down close to the stem. This makes it difficult to remove without damaging the other plant.

Another prolific weed on the plot is bindweed. We've got both sorts - the large white flowered one and the pretty pink flowered field bindweed. I always hand weed the shoots out as soon as I see them but they keep on coming back. I dug out as many of the deep white roots as I could in winter, but it's a bit like digging for Australia - you'll never get there. Bindweed is very like couch grass in that respect, which is another of my allotment problems.

As an organic gardener, I can't apply chemicals to the plot. But I'm sure my regular attacks with fork and spade will one day eliminate these knotty little problems. This is the method we've been employing at the Priory, where I'm Head Gardener, and we're almost free of couch grass and bind weed!

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Gardeners' World Web User 25/04/2009 at 11:24

I would like to re-emphasise the points made in the excellent programme screened on 27th March which encouraged gardeners to avoid using peat. The salient points against the use of peat: 1. Peat is a carbon sink 1.1. There is more carbon locked up in the peat lands of the UK than in the woods and forests of France and the UK combined. 1.2. The planet’s peat deposits contain more carbon than the whole of the atmosphere. 1.3. The creation of these deposits ten thousand years ago sucked sufficient carbon from the atmosphere to trigger an ice age. 1.4. All excavated peat once exposed to the atmosphere will oxidise to CO2. 1.5. Each tonne of peat excavated creates 3.5 tonnes of CO2. 2. Peat is a valuable and rare habitat which is home to a number of dwindling species such as the sundew and raft spider. 3. Peat bogs and mires are complex and unique eco-systems, which develop over thousands of years within their own micro-climate. 4. Embedded in its different layers are the remains of human history, which is providing a valuable insight into the way homo sapiens developed its management of the environment going back thousands of years.

Gardeners' World Web User 25/04/2009 at 16:40

Hi Jane, could you or any other bloggers offer me some advice please - I have just been offered the bottom of my neighbours garden to grow veg on. Its an east facing slope, and covered in grass and dandelions currently. No over hanging trees, and its got 6ft fences all round. I've never had the opportunity to plan a veg garden layout from a really blank canvas, and keep changing my mind about bed size/layout etc. Could you advise - we are on a chalk hillside, so poor light soil, and quite windy, but bathed in sun most of the day. I will want to site artichokes down one side (so they don't shade anything else), and have fruit bushes in a permanent bed. Compost bins down one edge. How wide do you think paths ideally should be? any suggestions would be very gratefully received, as the books all seem to say different things!

Gardeners' World Web User 26/04/2009 at 12:37

I was taught beds up to 1.2m or in English ...so you can easily reach from outside to half way into the bed so you won't need to walk on, and so compact, the soil! Width between? well Chris Beardshaw said in a very old GW that monks, one of the original developers of the bed system, used to make the distance between beds the length from knee to foot, so you can kneel between beds!!...these days though wide enough for that and a wheel barrow is my measure, about 0.8 - 1 m If you make raised beds you'll be able to add plenty of good organic matter to improve you light chalky soil for greedy feeding veg and fruit.

Gardeners' World Web User 26/04/2009 at 17:45

I have my first garden (village in west Norfolk) and it has a woodland feel to it. I know nothing much at all about gardening - we have a weed (?) that looks like a nettle but pretty and less lethal (!!) with a white flower at the top. Is it a weed? With regular nettles I am soaking in water as read in my herb book that it is good to be used as a vitamin spray for the garden. Lesley

Gardeners' World Web User 26/04/2009 at 18:27

hiya jane ive got an appiontment tommorow at 10 am getting my 1st allotment great price i think 24 pound for a year if i start chitting potatoes now and plant them in 2 weeks what sort of potatoes could i expect by end of september and any advice aswell

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