After a call out on my Facebook page this week it was brought to my attention that I haven’t really truly delved into how to deal with weeds in your garden. That’s outrageous. Is it too late now to say sorry? (Tragic Justin Bieber reference, but c’mon, it’s a banger). Also, shout out to my great mate Jessica for the title help. Who can say no to cringe worthy garden pun. NOT ME. As your garden starts to develop and experience the summery sun and the watery water of your watering can or the occasional downpour, weeds begin to sprout up out of no where. Even when you feel like you have taken the proper precautions to avoid them taking hold of your delicate crops, they will inevitably still manage to make their way through the dirt. In a social context weed’s are kind of like in-laws who are not very nice, you may not like them personally but they are part of the package. No gardener can truly avoid weeds. So here are a few tips to help with clearing the weeds, and few things to keep an eye out for. I hope it helps.
Mark your territory
The first piece of advice I have for anyone in the battle against weeds is to mark in the soil where you have planted your chosen plants. This is especially helpful if you are putting seed straight into the garden. If you are planting your seeds in rows (which is a very sensible choice) then buy some cheap bamboo sticks from your garden department and stick one at either end of your row. This will give you a clear path of where you should be expecting growth from the things you want to keep, rather than the weeds. If you are unsure and you are in the early stages of sprouting, feel free to leave it for a bit until you know for sure. Google image searching what you have planted might help you decide which is which but eventually it will develop to make it recognisable. If you are sure that none of your seedlings are what you’ve planted then the sooner you can pluck those weeds the better. Soft hands plucking them from where you expect your seedlings to sprout is the best way to ensure you aren’t disturbing the patient seed as well as providing them with a good clear area to pop through, though it is time consuming.
A Garden Diary
Now that we are committed gardeners, it is time to invest in a garden diary. It can be a notebook or a diary with dates in it but just make sure it has room in its’ pages for the occasional doodle. My diary has a bear wearing a knitted sweater on it. Yours doesn’t have to have that but I think you would be happier if it did. Why does a garden diary help you fight against weeds E Cus? Well, let me tell you why. With a garden diary you can mark down the date the seeds/plants were planted, the exact type of seed it was, you can draw a diagram of where in the garden you planted them, you can describe details about how you planted them and most importantly you can document expected germination and harvest times. How do I know those two last things E Cus? Gosh, you’ve got a lot of questions today. It usually has this information conveniently on the back of the seed packet or on the little insert that comes with the plant. How handy! I like to cut out the back of the seed packet and staple it to the page where I have written all of the information about my planting process. Knowing your expected germination time can be a great quick way to decipher who’s who, as weeds can develop very quickly after soil has been over turned. If you’d like, you can start every diary entry with ‘Dear Diary’ just to feel super Babysitter’s Club about it.
Weeding is an extensive process, especially if you are trying to avoid using sprays and chemicals. The last time I had a full garden of crops I devoted an hour of every day to sitting in my garden just playing some beats and pulling them weeds. It can be full on. So here’s the best tip I have received: when you are feeling lazy, do the bare minimum. Weeds are only a true problem when they are invading incoming crops or are in a place you want to be planting. If you haven’t got time don’t worry about those kind of cute looking purple flower ones in that place where nothing else grows, because who really cares. Your garden is your slice of heaven so do with it as you please. Once your plants are clearly developing focus on pulling weeds that are around the plant or in the plants potential growth path. Weeds love to hang out and sprout right around the base of your plant and often under convenient leaves or greenery, so look right around the base of the plant and clear a few centimetres around the plant too. All of those sorts of weeds have to go, because if they get tangled in the roots they could strangle the plant and/or inhibit its growth. If you want to clear your whole garden of weeds then section it off and deal with one section at a time in the knowledge that the second that you finish clearing one patch it will start regrowing weeds. That’s the catch 22 of gardening.
‘Weeds’ is commonly used as a loose term for unwanted plants. Remember that. There are absolutely bad weeds that do naughty things in your garden and create havoc, but there are also plants that you planted which, whilst unattended, have become rampant and are now as good as weeds. At my house curly leaf parsley is as good as a weed. Full, strong plants will grow out of cracks in the concrete and pulling them out is a work out in itself. Honestly, whilst I love parsley, it’s a freaken pain in my garden. Many people say to me ‘there’s a plant growing in my garden and I didn’t plant it but I don’t know if it’s good or not’ and the real answer is if you didn’t plant it then why keep it. We are all only blessed with so much space in a garden so don’t burden yourself trying to honour the life of a green thing that may or may not turn out to be something awesome. Feel free to give plants a short grace period in order to prove themselves, but if they don’t just get rid of them and plant something super cool.
Go to the root of the problem
Some weeds can grow very deep and getting them out can be a traumatic experience. Especially as often weed roots also look like rat tails to me and I don’t cope well with that. Animal or hairstyle. With long roots comes the problem of getting them out without snapping the roots. Any sort of snap or break in the roots means you will leave some behind and it will regrow itself from that. Hopefully you have cleared your dirt correctly (as mentioned in my last article) in the first place, thus eliminating the prospect of really deep weeds around newly planted seeds. In case you haven’t, the only real way to deal with them is to get the shovel out and dig as deeply as you can alongside the root and pulling as hard as you can once you can’t dig anymore. Even if this process is at the detriment of some of the seeds or plants you planted, the reality is those plants would never develop fully with those really stink weeds in their grow zone. When pulling these kinds of weeds think of it like picking up a heavy box, bend at the knees and protect your back. Also get a good wide stance so you don’t fall on your bum-bum once the root snaps or comes out. The last thing you need right now is to crush your peas with your rear end after the root snaps. That’s a double lose situation and no one wants that. Plus your bum will hurt.
On that bum note (lol) I should probably sign off. Thank you to everyone who suggested a topic for this month’s post and please keep them coming! If I don’t already know how to help, I love a good investigate.
Good luck with the Christmas shopping chaps. If you are stuck for ideas for your gardener loved one and have some cash to invest in a good present might I suggest a NutriBullet. I was recently given one which I’m in love with and it is a great way to get the most nutritional value out of the good organic crops they are growing. You’re welcome.
Sending good gardeny vibes,
E Cus x