Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Weeds, weeds and more weeds

When I was just growing in my back garden weeds weren't really a major problem. The patch was dug in an area that had been mown grass for years and was too shady for most growth (including veg!).

The allotment, however, seems to be an entirely different kettle of fish. Despite months of digging the plot over and pulling out couch grass and nettle roots, in the last week or so the weeds have gone ballistic on my freshly tilled soil. I spent most of Sunday ferociously weeding - trying to sort out what's veg seedling and what isn't.

I've mentioned this in passing to a lot of the other plot holders I speak to. The key apparently is lots of hoeing and not letting them get big enough to go to seed - "one years seeding is seven years weeding," I'm told. I've since read that some weeds such as fat hen can produce tens of thousands of sees from just one single plant.

This is where our plot is in trouble, it hasn't been properly tended for a few years now. That's quite a few years of weed seed all stored up, waiting for the opportune time at which some kind soul dumps a loads of fertiliser on them, pulls out the established competition and makes a nice fine seed bed.

But, while they are a pain, it's not these seeded perennial weeds that are causing me the most distress. It's an all together trickier customer - Mare's tail.

This segmented plant shoots up in spikes absolutely everywhere before splaying it's thin pines out as it reaches the light. And it is everywhere. The trouble is if you pull the top off, it just grows back even stronger and often splits as well. I've been trying to dig the roots up but can never go deep enough. the black stretchy deep roots just snap like elastic when you tug on them. Like couch grass and bindweed (which I also have in abundance) it only takes a little bit of root to grow back.

I've been told not to bother - gardening books say the roots can go 1.5m or 5-6 ft deep. I hear tales down the allotment that this little menace has been around since before the dinosaurs and horror stories about roots that go so deep they've been found in coal mines. It's a real monster.

Having tried various weed killers to little effect, Jim next door is philosophical about it - "If it's been around that long we aint gonna beat it!" He's also got a bit of advice "Don't let 'em get you down though, just stick at it."

1 comment:

Eddie 2-Sox said...

Yup, them's buggers all right! Good luck keeping 'em under control....