Toby’s in a bit of a bind this week dealing with a certain weed
“Bindweed won’t thrive where strawberries grow”
AFAVOURITE childhood pastime was squeezing the green base of bindweed blooms to pop the shuttlecock of white petals into the air. Back then I’d have probably said that it was my favourite flower, but now of course it’s one of my least favourites due to its serpentine stems that coil, boa constrictor-like, around all the plants I’d rather keep.
Because of its speedy growth and its modus of intertwining with its neighbours, bindweed is very difficult to eradicate. Repeated pulling out eventually exhausts the weed’s resolve, but only if the hunt for the spiralling young stems is never forgotten. Digging out will also check its growth, but never completely gets rid of the spaghetti-like roots that are as brittle as over-cooked pasta and break off in the soil to regrow.
Among the fruits on my veg plot bindweed is particularly bad, but here I place cardboard boxes over the soil and cover with an inch of green-waste compost (the stuff you get from the council). Although thin, the boxes almost always block out the roots, but where the weed comes up around the necks of the currants the white roots collect just below the cardboard and if this is peeled back are easy to remove.
Spraying with weedkiller is only possible where bindweed grows in isolation. If sprayed when it’s strangling other flowers and shrubs they’ll almost certainly be killed before the weed. One trick that works reasonably well is to place a wigwam of bamboo among its scrambling stems. Like Jack’s beanstalk, bindweed loves to climb and soon romps up the support where it’s safe to paint with a glyphosate-based weedkiller.
I recently heard a tip from a gardener who told me that bindweed won’t thrive where strawberries grow. Alpine strawberries are the best as they’re easy to raise from seed if sown in pots now and, according to my ‘source’, provide a tasty crop of fruit to boot!
It sounds too good to be true, so it probably is, but if it doesn’t work I can always go back to popping the flowers...
Bindweed will twine around other plant stems, smothering them in the process Bindweed loves to climb and will soon romp up a cane support (right) where you can paint it with a glyphosate-based weedkiller