EXPERT Tips… it’s TIME TO WEED
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.