Autumn weeding

Posted: Monday 14 October 2013
by Pippa Greenwood

Temperatures are beginning to drop, but there’s no doubt that the prolonged end to the summer has allowed everything to keep growing for longer than usual.


Even though, temperatures are beginning to drop, especially at night, there's no doubt that the prolonged end to the summer has allowed everything to keep growing for longer than usual. I'm referring to the grass, the tomatoes, the courgettes - and the weeds.

I've even found some hairy bitter cress in flower. It looked ready to ping out its seeds all too soon when I nabbed it.  Right now, it's all hands on deck in the garden, in an attempt to re-weed everything in earnest.

Admittedly, I've been supervising more than joining in the action. I have an excuse: I've spent the last few weeks hobbling around after falling down a pothole (whilst recording Gardeners' Question Time on the Settle to Carlisle railway). One knee won't bend at all, leaving me in agony, and an ankle has been swollen. 

Still, I haven't failed to notice that my soil is the perfect consistency for weeding, just moist enough to make it easy to lift out the entire root of weeds such as dandelion and dock. It gives me great pleasure to hook them out with my dinky little red-handled weeder, which I've used to tackle various new invaders, in between some paving and gravelled areas.

For me, the worst aspect of weeding is picking up the heaps of weeds after I'd had a blitz. I have a naughty tendency to leave piles of weeds wherever I go!

Once collected, I compost the tops of the weeds unless there are any signs of ripe seeds, but with the likes of chunky rooted dandelions, docks and the below-ground parts on nettles (yes, these have started to creep in from the field on the other side of the hedge) the best thing to do is to rot them down in tub-trugs or an old but hole-free dustbin full of water. This is smelly, but amazingly effective, and at the same time creates a useful nutrient soup for the plants!

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RubStick 24/10/2013 at 20:46

I have given up this year and rotavated the weeds back in to my veggie plot. Is this a good idea or are they just going to come back harder next year?

Dave Morgan 24/10/2013 at 21:03

As long as you keep the weeds with serious tap roots out, dandelion and bindweed being the worst, they will just rot down.