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I read the "no dig" veg plot in this months magazine with interest, and wondered whether could apply the technique to my shrub borders. Thinking about it my ground elder problem is worse in the more dug areas. I was going to spend Saturday pulling it out AGAIN but I'm going to give covering it up a go instead. I'll have to use some of that liner stuff that lets water through for some bits else my plants may get thirsty and it'll look awful but worth a go I think. What do people think of no dig? Anyone tried it for shrub areas?
Alina W

Covering ground elder won't kill it in the borders. Digging is not a good idea either, as you will chop up its roots and every piece will produce a fresh plant. You need to follow the roots with a trowel to dig them out, or paint with weedkiller in spring.

Hiya Supernoodle. I'm a great believer in no-dig gardening....for the veg plot. If you cover ground elder with a living mulch you will simply encourage it to grow well. I dont like soil membranes.....they make it difficult to move plants, make for an unhealthy, stagnant soil (birds cant get the slugs and other bad guys) and dont really look good. Also, how can you add organic matter afterwards? I really am convinced that glyphosate is the way to go to get rid of ground elder. As soon as it emerges spray or paint with it, a few weeks later do it again and then before summer's end if necessary. Digging isnt working, is it?
Alina got her,post in as I was posting mine but we seem to to digging and yes to weedkiller
"No to digging" - hurrah! Nope, it's really not working.
I didn't intend to use the membrane thing permanently - just a temp thing. But I won't even do that now. I'll get my round up dabber out in the spring and get working on it. May have a go at seeing what root I can trowel out on sat. Especially round a few plants that it tends to swap.
I read somewhere a while ago (perhaps this forum) that geraniums seem to beat it and it's true- I moved a bit across from elsewhere in the garden and it does seem to overwhelm the ground elder. So maybe I need to get some more geranium next summer too.


Tom Edwards (CottageGardening)

I have used the no dig method this year for the first full season. I can fully recommend it as well. I have spent far less time weeding, and the plants seem to have been bigger despite the wet weather. I would also recommend Charles Dowding's books on the subject as they go into more detail about getting going.

Supernoodle, there is a super strength glyphosate available and I would use that. Not sure that geraniums will overwhelm ground elder. A friend of mine has big problems with buttercup,daisies, etc growing up in and around her geraniums. Its now hard to separate without digging up the geraniums. Can you isolate your ground elder and spray as often as it takes til it's gone? You will win. I had bindweed everywhere, everywhere, climbing and swamping everything. Not a trace of it now after a couple of years glyphosating??!

Im going to try the no dig method this year for the first time.  Advice on your methods please.  Do you add manure etc thank you

I add manure, mushroom compost, garden compost, seaweed,etc. and do it at this time of the year. In spring I use a long-handled aerator (well, an old fork with its tines bent at right angles) and "scratch" to a depth of 6" or so into the soil and mulch to mix and create a fine tilth. I even do this for carrots too making sure there are no lumps of manure, etc. I get very good crops on my sandy loam.

The no dig method as I understand it is usually about 6 foot wide raised beds where you just work from the side- so having done the initial preparation you don't walk on the soil again  and just add manure each year to revitalise the soil and let the worms and the weather do the rest.


Thank you for your advise see how we go. Hopefully this coming year will be a better crop.  I thought carrots didnt need mulch but as Im having problem with them will give that a go as well.  Much appreciated

I use the no dig principle. The first year I prepared the beds by double digging in horse muck on one bed and mushroom compost in the other. did the same thing with a flower bed last year and another veg bed this year.

There after I've not dug but covered with horse muck at about this time and also use home made compost in the spring on the beds not covered in Autumn. The beds get a mulch of seaweed too during the growing season and I've got a leaf mulch for the flower bed.

The first beds I made haven't been walked on for about 3 years now. I can reach across the beds with a fork (4ft wide) so the soils turned over in the spring, probably down to a depth of 6' and then I rake and just loosen the top with a hand fork when I'm planting out.

Lots of stones and old bits of tiles came to the surface the first couple of years on the older beds but now there's very little rubble and the soil stays black all summer with very few weeds. You still need to hoe occasionally but weeds like dandelions can be pulled out with their tap root still attached whole. 

There were few worms to start with but now the soil can't be turned without uncovering a worm, they are in the compost bin, under pots, just about everywhere. .

I'm lucky that I don't need to create raised beds. My soil is sandy loam. My plot is walked on without damage. Raised beds would simply create unused spaces, areas for bugs to hide in and unnecessary clutter (whether railway sleepers or stones). On heavy soil raised beds are necessary though. So, for me, no digging is just that, viz., top dressing thickly with compost, etc., to maintain fertility in the top few inches of soil. I grow veg closely together with high productivity.

Manure arrived Im on my way to no dig ... thank you Friends

Lots to think about and good ideas .. Ive got itchy fingers as well as green ones now.

cheers speak to you soon


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