EX­PERT Tips… it’s TIME TO WEED

Period Living - - The Reclaimer -

Mick Lavelle, gar­den­ing ex­pert, writer and se­nior lec­turer in hor­ti­cul­ture at Writ­tle Univer­sity Col­lege, of­fers sea­sonal ad­vice April is, for many gar­den­ers, the most ex­cit­ing month in the gar­den. It’s the month when we see al­most ev­ery­thing that has been dor­mant through the win­ter months start to lit­er­ally ‘spring’ back into growth. At the start of the month the win­ter colour that has given us hope in the darker months is bol­stered by fresh growth and spring blooms, and by its end, the gar­den truly erupts into its sum­mer glory.

Amid this ex­cite­ment, though, it is all too easy to take your eye off the real busi­ness – that of the war against those ‘pesky’ weeds that (given the op­por­tu­nity) would spoil this botan­i­cal fi­esta.

CATCH THEM WHILE YOU CAN

April, then, is the month that de­fines what sort of sum­mer you will spend in your gar­den. Weeds start to grow with real vigour as the days lengthen, the sun shines brighter and the tem­per­a­ture rises. In­deed, many weeds will have com­menced growth in the win­ter, and al­though they usu­ally re­main small at this time, the im­prov­ing weather in spring means they have a per­fect ‘head start’. So it pays to get out into the gar­den right at the start of the month and hoe weeds on sight be­fore they get a chance to seed. Get in the habit of this and do it reg­u­larly from now on.

PRE­PARE TO MULCH

Ap­ply­ing an or­ganic mulch of com­posted ma­te­rial is also a use­ful way of re­duc­ing weed growth, al­though it is not an in­surance pol­icy in its own right. Be­fore mulching around your plants, it is ab­so­lutely vi­tal that you re­move all of the weed growth and dig out any deep-rooted or peren­nial types like docks or dan­de­lions. Mulch laid to around 5cm (2in.) will prevent weed seed ger­mi­nat­ing, and any that do on the mulch it­self will be easy to pull out. Mulch also helps re­duce mois­ture loss from the soil and as it breaks down, it will add vi­tal or­ganic mat­ter to the soil.

Sadly there is no rem­edy when it comes to weeds. Ul­ti­mately, the key to suc­cess is to act early. Get them un­der con­trol now and you will free up time this sum­mer.

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