Author Topic: Weeds, weeds and more weeds  (Read 10610 times)

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Offline Eric Hardy

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Weeds, weeds and more weeds
« on: May 05, 2009, 08:50:28 AM »
The garden has become more important than the computer now the weather is getting better so it has occurred to me what an extraordinarily large variety of weeds we have and how our age is making it increasingly difficult to keep on top of them. In fact I say without fear of contradiction that the weeds are winning at the moment  :(

Our most serious weeds are bindweed, couch grass and ground elder.
We have a lot of goose grass too which just keeps coming back. A few years ago we got a little bit of Japanese knotweed but to my relief I was able to eradicate it.

Lesser weeds are dock, plantain, groundsel, buttercups (creeping and meadow), dandelions, thistles (the seeds blow in from the common outside), dead nettles and we even have scarlet pimpernel in the vegetable patch. There are of course others that I don?t know the name of.

Some garden plants become weeds if they don?t stay where they are intended. Ladies mantle keeps popping up in places it shouldn?t be. Dill spreads all over the place and unless you catch it young the roots just go down and down. Honesty is fine in it?s place but needs keeping in check (or is it a weed anyway?)

Wild anchusa grows in the wild bit (along with wild rocket and red campion) but if it seeds in the beds it has deep roots like a dock. Cow parsley grows in the wild bit too but once it has flowered we pull it up by the roots (as long as the earth is damp).

Wild foxgloves and columbine seed themselves but in the right place we leave them. Then there are the (is it a weed?) forget-me-nots and wild garlic. The forget-me-nots are being pulled up now for the most part where they are encroaching on space needed by ?proper? plants. The wild garlic seems to be contained.

I know the experts in the group must have weedless gardens and I envy them.

What has prompted this rambling piece? Well you have to have something to think about when you are weeding  ;D

Eric H

Online Palustris

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Re: Weeds, weeds and more weeds
« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2009, 09:10:27 AM »
Snap!

Online ideasguy

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Re: Weeds, weeds and more weeds
« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2009, 11:12:45 AM »
Nice posting there Eric.
Makes you wonder if we gardeners are working with or against nature, does it not?
As for weedless gardens - now, that would be paradise  :)

I now realise I have an annual cycle "working with nature".
Currently its dandylions and I'm almost paranoid about them. I spend hours at this time of year removing those cheery blooms.
If they are in the "fallow" areas, I deadhead them. If they are accessible, I use a long handled pointed trowel, filed to a sharp edge at the point, which I use to cut the weed just below the surface, taking up the entire growth.
I never mow the lawn when until they are removed.
It leaves the tap root of course, but it gives no more bother until its second flush later in the year (aren't they so prolific!) Mind you the third flush, the sporadic ones which do their business during off season can catch me out!
They are truly amazing. The stem carrying the bloom or a flower bud has the knack of dropping off the plant as you put in in the weed bucket. If you don't see it, even an undeveloped flower will continue to flower and set seed - truly indestructible and programmed for survival.
For that reason, whacking with a strimmer isn't an option!

Nettles are next in order of nuisance. Don't allow them to go to seed! They develop a very tough root structure, don't they!

Buttercups are OK if you get them in time. If you don't, boy they don't half get a grip of the earth! If beside a timid plant, well its in trouble.

Now heres the ironic bit. My first task each spring is to go out and weed around my precious plants. Invariably, they are smothered with forget-me-not, grass in variety etc etc.  I weed cautiously until I find my plant. Eventually (if lucky) I discover this timid little plant just awakening from its slumbers! Usually, its eaten to the ground by slugs (another posting Eric?)
Sometimes theres nothing! You end up with a bare patch and in a few weeks (again if lucky) the sleeping beauty emerges.
I chuckle each year as I rescue Nepeta 'Six Hills Giant' - how misnamed can a plant possibly be!!!!

I have to agree with your choice of three serious weeds.
Most can be introduced to the garden very easily.
I spotted this beautiful Helleborus niger in full bloom at a garden centre.
Then, I also spotted a strongly growing bindweed in the same pot. I pointed it out to the owner. He pulled the weed and went about his business. I left empty handed. Pity the poor customer who bought that plant  :'(

Divisions are lethal. Thats how my dad introduced ground elder to one part of the garden, with a very beautiful Phlox. Both are growing strongly and thats after 25 years.

A new gardener should be warned about the dangers of buying a load of topsoil.
I came very close to buying a lorry load of what I thought was quality soil, piled at the site of a new Sainsburys and B&Q outlest close to my home.
They spread some over a disused road. Now its full of Gorse -we call them Whin bushes (do you call them whin bushes?)
I didn't need that weed. The soil was obviously full of gorse seed (plentiful in that area)

When they widened the road outside my house, they took away a strip of my garden and in compensation, built me a nice brick wall. They brough a load of topsoil and filled it in to the new wall. Now I have bindweed!

Hey, isn't gardening so much fun  ???
« Last Edit: May 05, 2009, 11:18:40 AM by ideasguy »

Offline Eric Hardy

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Re: Weeds, weeds and more weeds
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2009, 02:57:04 PM »
Nettles are next in order of nuisance. Don't allow them to go to seed! They develop a very tough root structure, don't they!
Yes, I forgot stinging nettles. We have those too. It is suggested you should leave a patch of nettles for the butterfly larvae. Peacocks, red admirals, tortoiseshells and commas all like nettles we are told. Luckily there are plenty of nettles outside on the common so I don't feel the need to preserve a nettle patch.

Quote
Divisions are lethal. Thats how my dad introduced ground elder to one part of the garden, with a very beautiful Phlox.
I agree with that. I forgot to mention vetch as a weed. We had some divisions from Anthea's parents a few years ago and introduced vetch into our garden which we now have in abundance.

Quote
A new gardener should be warned about the dangers of buying a load of topsoil..............
When they widened the road outside my house, they took away a strip of my garden and in compensation, built me a nice brick wall. They brough a load of topsoil and filled it in to the new wall. Now I have bindweed
Luckily that is something we have never needed to do. Years of our own horse manure has made the soil pretty good.

Another weed I didn't mention is herb robert. It is a dainty little plant. In between the stone sets we have by our back door it looks quite pretty. Luckily, if it gets into the beds it is one of the easiest weeds to remove.

I am sure we can go on for ever about weeds   :)

Eric H


Offline Eric Hardy

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Re: Weeds, weeds and more weeds
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2009, 03:36:36 PM »
And I forgot to mention our two little ponds where duck weed and blanket weed have to be removed almost on a daily basis  ::)

Eric H


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Re: Weeds, weeds and more weeds
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2009, 04:01:11 PM »
RE:
Quote
There are of course others that I don?t know the name of.
Looking over your list, you know the names of a lot more weeds than I do. I probably have them all in my wild bits.
I laugh over one incident when I started to garden. I lost my fathers old wheelbarrow! It turned up in the long grass in the far corner of the garden  ::)

You mentioned Red Campion growing in a wild area of your garden. I have this really nice plant in my garden, which I have never positively identified.
A garden expert told me (I showed hima stem, leaf and flower) that it was a Pulmonaria. I dont think he is correct.
The nearest Ive got to it is I believe it to be a variety of red campion.
However its a beautiful shade of pink. It spreads slowly. It doesnt appear to self seed. Flowers for ages.
You can see it in the background of this photo:



Is Red Campion a weed?

Offline Lyn and Malcolm

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Re: Weeds, weeds and more weeds
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2009, 06:08:32 PM »

Are you both Organic gardeners ?

Malcolm

Offline Eric Hardy

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Re: Weeds, weeds and more weeds
« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2009, 06:11:37 PM »
That looks very nice George, I can't tell from the photo whether it is red campion but it looks as though it could be. I would not call it a weed. It is a woodland and hedgerow flower. Anthea collected the seeds from some by the roadside so that we could have them in our wild bit. I do not have a photo but here is a link to someone else's on Flickr
http://images.google.co.uk/imgres?imgurl=http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3151/2584874666_1475925b25.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.flickr.com/photos/derek48/2584874666/&usg=__CID2_-aAfg5lRMU-eV5CZO_Mnnk=&h=375&w=500&sz=85&hl=en&start=1&sig2=4uzafKuBaPl2BlkLnPy2-A&um=1&tbnid=7c6rzeuJrhcCnM:&tbnh=98&tbnw=130&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dred%2Bcampion%2Bflower%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN%26um%3D1&ei=Jm8ASrq5OIHH-Aai0cC7Ag

Red Campions have male flowers and female flowers so you need both if you want them to self seed. Apparently it is common in Northern Ireland according to this website http://www.cvni.org/wildflowernursery/wildflowers/red-campion

They don't look like pulmenaria to me. This is what I have always understood to be pulmanaria and it is flowering in our garden at the moment.



Eric H

Offline Eric Hardy

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Re: Weeds, weeds and more weeds
« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2009, 06:36:19 PM »
Are you both Organic gardeners ?

I am not sure if we qualify as organic gardeners, Malcolm. We try to be as green as possible and avoid slug bait outside to avoid poisoning birds. We try all the usual tricks like coffee grounds, upturned grapefruit and so on. We allow ourselves slug bait in the greenhouse because birds don't get in there normally and the slugs and snails seem to find nice moist areas in there to hide. We don't use weedkiller except the sort you can spot bindweed leaves with. It is supposed to work its way down to the roots but as we don't find it very effective we don't use that much either. We do resort to a spray for the black-fly on runner beans but we grow marigolds among the runner beans which is supposed to be a deterrent to the black-fly. I don't know how true that is. That all probably doesn't qualify as "organic" but perhaps does qualify as "making a little effort to be green".

Eric H

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Re: Weeds, weeds and more weeds
« Reply #9 on: May 05, 2009, 09:07:03 PM »
We tried growing the Marigold which is supposed to get rid of Couch. The couch choked it!
We have another nasty weed, in that it has a long tap root, common mallow.
We do have a few introduced ones like Comfrey (not us, never planted it, hate the stuff, gives us both nasty rashes) and almost any cultivated geranium you care to mention. Filled compost 20 bags with them this last few weeks.
BUT, without doubt the most frustrating weed is Ragwort. It is not in our hedgerows and we have never allowed it to flower and have sprayed it with Verdone in the grass and watched it die, but every year up it comes somewhere else.
Size is not always a problem either, I have great difficulty removing two tiny things from plant pots, pearlwort and what ever the white flowered thing is.
Be glad that 99% of dandelion seeds are sterile!

Offline Eric Hardy

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Re: Weeds, weeds and more weeds
« Reply #10 on: May 05, 2009, 09:26:55 PM »
BUT, without doubt the most frustrating weed is Ragwort. It is not in our hedgerows and we have never allowed it to flower and have sprayed it with Verdone in the grass and watched it die, but every year up it comes somewhere else
That is interesting, Eric. Ragwort has flourished on the common for some years but luckily it hasn't spread into the garden. Of course ragwort is poisonous for horses. When we used to graze our horse and donkeys on the common there were several other families who did the same and there were always people pulling up ragwort when they saw it appear. Now, for several years no animals have grazed and there is no incentive for people to get rid of it any more.

Eric H

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Re: Weeds, weeds and more weeds
« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2009, 01:04:34 PM »
I recall the farmers used to have to go out and cut down weeds growing on their fields to control ragweed and the likes.

I have two weeds I'd like to identify.
The worst of the two has thin creeping roots, produces a climbing plant which winds through anything in sight, produces mauve blue flowers and then develops tiny pea pods.
What is that one?

Online Palustris

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Re: Weeds, weeds and more weeds
« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2009, 05:31:10 PM »
Sounds like one we have which does the same thing. Until I started to write thiis I knew what it was called, Vetch of some description.
Two others we have, wild violets which seed everywhere and are as bad as Celandiines for choking plants. OR, whilst the big white Bindweed is a Calystegia, there is a Convolvulus arvensis, Field bindweed which is low gorwing and pink, but equally invasivie. We have that in the grass too.

Online ideasguy

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Re: Weeds, weeds and more weeds
« Reply #13 on: May 07, 2009, 10:48:53 AM »
Vetch is correct Eric.
Using that name, I made a positive ID on the website posted by Malcolm (see the Bluevbells topic):
http://www.wildflowersofireland.net/plant_detail.php?id_flower=299&wildflower=Vetch,%20Common
Common Name: Common Vetch
Scientific Name: Vicia sativa
Irish Name: Peasair chapaill

Site says its an annual, so thats a relief.
Mind you, theres probably enough seed in the garden to keep it going for a year or two   ::)





Offline Eric Hardy

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Re: Weeds, weeds and more weeds
« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2009, 11:10:13 AM »
Vetch, That's the stuff >:(.  I mentioned earlier that we imported that in a divided plant from Anthea's parents garden. I wasn't aware that it is an annual. It feels like a perennial to me. It has a mass of tiny white roots that seem to spread everywhere.

Eric H

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Re: Weeds, weeds and more weeds
« Reply #15 on: May 07, 2009, 01:10:00 PM »
We learn here that this hardy plant is often grown as green manure or livestock fodder
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vicia_sativa

On my favourite Flora Of Northern Ireland site:
http://www.habitas.org.uk/flora/species.asp?item=14093
we learn that 
Quote
The forage plant (subsp. sativa) is very variable but is generally more robust than the native subsp. nigra: it is a tall trailing plant with pinnate leaves which have between 4 and 7 pairs of leaflets and terminal tendrils, and solitary or pairs of beautiful purple flowers, which are succeeded by peapod-type fruits 2 ins (5 cm) long. It is commonly encountered as a relic of cultivation or escape, in grassy places.
The native subsp. nigra is more slender, with very narrow leaflets and smaller flowers and pods. It grows in dry grassy places including sand dunes. Old British and Irish floras treat this as a separate species called Vicia angustifolia.
I think I may have the native subsp. nigra  :-\

Here:
http://gallery.e2bn.org/image61693-.html
we learn that
Quote
it (Vicia sativa) can be distinguised from other vetchs as it has two black-blotched stipules at the base of the leaf. The seed pods have a long beak.

I note that the above sites dont say if it is Annual or Perennial.

This one does:
http://www.calflora.org/cgi-bin/species_query.cgi?where-calrecnum=8446
says:
Quote
Vicia sativa, a dicot, is an annual herb or vine that is not native to California; it was introduced from elsewhere and naturalized in the wild [Lum/Walker].

RE: (Eric H)
Quote
It has a mass of tiny white roots that seem to spread everywhere.
Thats what terrifies me!
I'm rather hoping its an annual, but like you, I'm not convinced.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2009, 01:30:15 PM by ideasguy »

Offline Trevor Ellis

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Re: Weeds, weeds and more weeds
« Reply #16 on: September 24, 2009, 05:22:04 PM »
I've just put a question in the 'Books' section, trying to locate a book about weeds that I read about thirty years ago. Unfortunately, I haven't relocated the book as yet but it's content could well be interesting and useful to anyone with problems in that area and who tend towards organic solutions if I can locate it. If this sounds interesting, rather than me repeating, maybe check out the posting under 'Books'.

Online ideasguy

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Re: Weeds, weeds and more weeds
« Reply #17 on: September 24, 2009, 07:26:02 PM »
I hope you can locate it, Trevor.
If you do, you can post under Books and we can link to it from this topic.