Picture a garden in summer sunshine with lots of birdsong, the gentle buzz of bumble bees and healthy, pretty plants.
Apart from the lovely song, birds in the garden will eat up all sorts of pests that attack your plants and we need bees to pollinate fruit and flowers. So we need to encourage them as much as possible, and you’re much more likely to do so if you don’t use any chemicals.
It’s really simple to stop using chemicals that kill weeds. It will need a bit more effort in the early stages, then it all takes much less effort and you get the results.
It is a bit like a battle, so here are three weapons for your armoury to help you combat weeds.
Spread a layer 4″/10cm thick of material over the surface of the soil, it will exclude light and stop weeds germinating. There are lots of different materials you can use such as chipped bark, but I prefer to use home-made compost. It’s easy because it’s right here and doesn’t cost anything, but we occaisionally have to bulk it up with bought compost/soil improver as we can’t produce enough. You can also use thick card-board, but it doesn’t look very good and is best kept for the allotment where it works a treat.
This stops tiny weed seedlings in their prime before they get big and have to be dug up, which is far more time consuming. Just make sure that you know the difference between weed seedlings and seedlings of plants that you want to keep. Plant seedlings are usually near the parent plant, which is helpful as the leaves are usually similar.
Remove weeds as they appear and before they set seed, this is much easier to do after a light rainfalll when the soil is damp. It’s particularly satisfying if you get to them just before they disperse their seeds, then you’ve also killed of lots of potentail weeds too.
images: Jill Anderson