Bane of our lives

WEEDS MUST: How do you tackle the in­vaders that just don’t know how to be­have in your gar­den? David Ov­erend re­ports.

Yorkshire Post - YP Magazine - - Advertising Feature -

NINVITED guests can be the bane of a gar­dener’s life. He or she spends many hours clear­ing ground – and the an­nual weeds move in. No word of thanks; they seem to think that bare earth is an open in­vi­ta­tion to put down roots.

Some people don’t mind the oc­ca­sional in­ter­loper – one man’s weed is an­other man’s wild flower or source of food for birds and bugs. But some weeds just don’t know how to be­have, and they set out to make the most of the sit­u­a­tion by spring­ing up all over the place and then scat­ter­ing ar­mies of seeds to all cor­ners of the gar­den.

Herb Robert (Gera­nium rober­tianum) is just one such pest. It pro­duces lots of tiny pink flow­ers but spreads rapidly. If you don’t want a sea of weeds, pull it up as soon as it’s spotted.

The same ap­plies to chick­weed (Stel­laria me­dia) which will in­stantly colonise freshly-turned ground and will flower and seed through­out the year. Cer­tain birds en­joy it, but the best way of deal­ing with it is to hoe when the sun shines.

Ground­sel (Senecio vul­garis) is an­other plant whose seeds are sought af­ter by birds, but if you al­low it time to set­tle in, it will colonise quicker than Napoleon ever man­aged to do in his hey­day. Pull it out.

The same ap­plies to shepherd’s purse (Capsella bur­sapas­toris) which seeds

All these an­nual pests thrive in a typ­i­cal English spring

and sum­mer

quickly and re­peat­edly. Again, keep the hoe blade sharp and in reg­u­lar use.

Bit­ter­cress (Car­damine hir­sute) is one of those tiny, in­signif­i­cant plants of­ten found grow­ing on the soggy com­post of plants bought from cer­tain nurs­eries and gar­den cen­tres. It may come free but if you let it get a grip in your gar­den you’ll be pay­ing for years to come. It’s a pro­lific seeder – re­move it as soon as you spot it.

Fat hen (Chenopodium al­bum) isn’t quite as com­mon as those weeds al­ready men­tioned, but it can be a nui­sance, and if you al­low it to set seed it will make the most of your gen­eros­ity by spread­ing amaz­ingly quickly. All these an­nual pests (and there are many more) thrive in a typ­i­cal English spring and sum­mer. The damper it is, the bet­ter they like it. So, vig­i­lance is the key to keep­ing them un­der con­trol. You’ll never erad­i­cate them, but at least you can show them who’s the boss.

PIC­TURE: DAVID OV­EREND

CHICK­WEED: This un­in­vited guest is a pain in the bed, bor­der and veg­etable gar­den

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