Archive for the ‘Weed control’ Category

APPRECIATING THE ROLE WEEDS PLAY AND TRYING TO SEE WEEDING AS A SORT OF THERAPY – FOURTH WEEK IN MAY 2010

I have just finished making a DVD (with friends from Glasnevin, Balbriggan and Lusk Tidy Towns Association,)  called ‘The Wildflowers of Fingal’. As a result I have a new perspective on what we gardeners call ‘weeds’. The dandelion flower for example is an important food source for bees. Humans need bees not just for honey but more critically to pollinate many of our food plants, whether courgette and tomato flowers or clover which in turn creates meat and dairy products.

So it is good to know weeds are doing some good next time someone casts a disapproving look at your ‘wilderness’. Mind you I do like a fairly tidy garden so I can see what I need to see growing and so I can reach plants, water them and pick crops as they ripen. So I weed as necessary.

It is good to hear some agricultural advisors speak well of some deep-rooted weeds. Plants such as dock and dandelion take up  and make available again nutrients which have been washed down out of reach of shallow rooting grasses and clovers etc. Dr Charles Merfield, Organic Agriculture Research Scientist when he worked in Johnstown Castle for Teagasc spoke in detail about the biological feed back systems at work in fertile soil. Roots excrete  what soil needs to make food for roots. So while weeds may be a problem in one way, in another they are helping maintain a healthy soil for the plants you actually want to grow strong, tall and tasty.

Not so tall but very tasty are the radishes which I have begun to sample this week. The crisp bite and peppery flavour is undoubtably best when picked , washed and eaten fresh from fertile soil. However if I had let the weeds go unchecked, I may not have seen these new season radishes.

While I will not panic if I see a few weeds, I am geared up to keep the kitchen garden manageable and as tidy as it needs to be. I have between now and the 10th June 2010 to put my words into practice and I invite you to come then and see if I have succeeded or not.

ON THURSDAY 10th JUNE AT 7pm, THE GROW IT YOURSELF NAUL GROUP AND SOME GIY-ers FROM SWORDS AND DUBLIN  ALONG WITH NEIGHBOURS ARE DROPPING IN TO SEE THE GARDEN. I’LL BE TAKING BETS ON THE NUMBER OF VISITORS WHO SAY ‘IT IS SMALLER THAN IT LOOKS ON THE U-TUBE VIDEO CLIPS’! IF I HAVE ENOUGH CUPS YOU ARE WELCOME TO A CUP OF ‘REAL TEA’ (AS PEOPLE SAY) OR SAMPLE AN AROMATIC BREW MADE FROM FRESH PEPPERMINT WHICH IS GROWING PROFUSELY  UNDER THE APPLE TREE BETTER THAN ANY WEED I KNOW RIGHT NOW!  CALL THE CONSTITUENCY OFFICE IN SWORDS ON (01) 89 00 360 FOR MORE DETAILS AND DIRECTIONS.

HOEING AND SLUG PATROLS – SECOND WEEK OF MAY

All parts of the garden are now planted.  The soil temperature is still cool and showers are keeping it that way. Growth is therefore still slow but peas, beans, Brussel sprouts, kale and all the rest are happy to sit and wait for the expected warmer weather ahead. However the more robust plants (commonly known as weeds) are thriving, along with the veg loving wildlife (such as snails and slugs).

The priority during this period is to control the weed growth and slug and snail predations, atleast until the veg plants grow big enough to overshadow the soil and shade out the weed growth. Slug and snail activity also wanes as weather gets drier. (We live in hope!)

Dutch HoeLate at night whenever I get home I venture forth often after midnight, torch in hand, around the garden to remove startled slugs and snails. Each morning, before breakfast, I again inspect, but this time with hoe in hand. Any weeds which have appeared are easily hoed before they get established.

An alternative to this routine would be to get a couple of hens.  Meanwhile however, the torch and the hoe are on hand near the back door for the forseeable future.