Sunday, 26 June 2011


Ok it is pretty easy to weed a garden before you plant things - if you put your mind to it and your back into it of course.

However, what do you do when you need to weed after the plants have gone in (and you have failed to mulch or keep weed free diligently every day)?

I had a feeling that my perfectionism would make me spend lots of time reading up about best practices rather than actually doing the job so I just got on it and did what felt right. I pulled out the biggest bits (which had scary thick stems and deep rooting - eek) then got a small hand fork and twisted and turned the soil to dislodge what I could. There is a chance that the weeds that have carelessly been left in the turned soil will just re-root. Morrissons dept manager extraordinaire, aka my boyfriend will be bringing home wood chip mulch. Morrissons have 2 for 1 on bags - I think he said they're about £2 or something. Jolly good!

Ok now is time to research.

I don't recommend typing "How to weed around plants" into Google - you'll get some wonderful info for a certain type of gardener - just not this one.

I tried again and I have found these tips:

* Give your garden a good water a little while beforehand (being careful not to splash the leaves of the plants you want to keep if it is sunny - to prevent leaf scorch) which will make the soil much easier to turn.
I have tried this the hard way. When we weeded the garden 3 weeks ago we did it with dry soil. Today I had watered the garden previously and it was much more fun. This is because you are suddenly dealing with soil rather than what feels like dirt.

* Weeds have a defence mechanism. This means that if you try and just pull out the weed it will break at the stem only which allows the roots to remain and thus it can grow again. Make sure you get it all.
I am confused, is this only weeds? All the plants that got damaged really badly stayed damaged (in the small animal trample-athalon) even though the roots remained undamaged in the earth. Here's hoping the mulch does it job here then as I have clearly half-finished my role.

* It is best to do weeding early on in the day so that any weeds left on top of the soil will dry out and wilt in the midday sun.
Aha - ok due to lack of sun in most of my garden this will not work...but this is hopeful anyway.

I read a few more pages and frankly weeding is a huge issue and not one that I am willing to cover fully. It is a subject that could clearly put off anyone who is still a fledging gardener like myself. I don't want to put myself off or anyone else. For example there is the Japanese knotweed (which I can't work out if I have or not) that actually has laws governing its removal etc. EEK!

Instead the above is just enough to be useful but to keep gardening lighthearted.

I had planned on preparing the garden better over winter and I can see why I should have done.

Again I'm not going to get too heavy with this but I am going to be better prepared next year. If I don't want to keep anything from this year I could:

* Lay a thick layer of newspaper, overlapping properly over all beds then cover in a thick layer of mulch. Apparently if you have a few months this allows the newspaper to break down whilst making it difficult for weeds to get what they need to grow. The mulch on top stops the garden from looking pants and keeps down the newspaper. I will need to do the same on the other side of the fence as that is from where most of the weeds are coming from as the other residents do not look after their section.

* In very early spring I will dump some wonderful manure all over to prepare the beds for growing again.

Or I could just continue with mulch and diligent weeding.

Sunlight and shade

I work up very late today to find the garden bathed in sunlight - most of the garden had either full or dappled sunlight on it at 10:20am (told you I was up late). This is wonderful. In my rush to get things in the ground along with a grumpy boyfriend who was grudgingly helping/hindering/rushing me, I put some things in the wrong place. I put tomatoes in the shady area for a start and the marigolds have not opened their flowers yet despite being ready 3 weeks ago - also in shady area.

Of course because I got up late I don't know when this sunlight first touched this area. But it looked lovely and I was so excited.

Unfortunately this wonder only lasted until about 11:30 but YAY!

The tenacity of plants

In the last year that I have been attempting gardening, I've learnt one amazing thing which blows raspberries in the face of my perfectionism. Mother nature is tenacious.


1. Not readily letting go of, giving up, or separated from an object that one holds, a position, or a principle: "a tenacious grip".
2. Not easily dispelled or discouraged; persisting in existence or in a course of action: "a tenacious legend".  

You just have to look at weeds, no matter what you do, these will grow without too much assistance or help and wherever.

Weeds aside (that's a whole other post) you just have to consider some of my experiments. Last year after I had pricked/thinned out my tomatoes, I casually threw the excess seedlings onto a bed in the garden. A bed I had not turned or done anything with and some of the seedlings took hold. Granted they didn't amount to much but it amazed me anyhow. These seedlings were determined to grow.

This year, I undoubtedly left things too late to plant things out but then it was not as if the ground was warm enough for planting out. But my holiday beckoned and I was aware that my fledging plants would have more chance in the ground while I was away then in a pot. Everything went into the ground, cats and foxes and squirrels duly jumped over everything that night and the plants looked battered and beaten but still I asked a friend if she'd water the plants whilst we were away and... I came back to find out that most plants (despite being broken in torn in many places) had decided to live anyway.

Hoorah! Perfectionism - 0, Mother Nature - 1.