Toby’s in a bit of a bind this week deal­ing with a cer­tain weed

Amateur Gardening - - Content - Toby Buckland Nurs­ery­man and for­mer Gar­den­ers’ World host

“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

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