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Weedageddon. Any organic advice for this list of beasts?

(3 Posts)
Ginformation Wed 22-May-13 16:21:06

We are renovating our mid-Victorian house. The garden is very long. One side is bound by a lovely Victorian brick wall. It is currenlty split into 3 sections with a long path along one side. The area closest to the house is lawn with borders. The middle section is currenlty 1970s concrete stepping stones set in lawn leading to a concrete pond. This will one day be my dream prairie style plant heaven. The bottom section has a huge storage 'shed', greenhouse and the 'allotment' (where we will one day have raised beds in a 4 crop rotation). We love the garden, but it has been neglected for some time and we have a monster weed problem...

Horsetail
Couch
Dandelions
Brambles
Nettle
Dock
Bindweed
Knotweed
Chickweed
Himalayan balsam
Ragwort
Bittercress
...and some others I have not yet identified.

Some of the borders are so invaded with couch that the other plants are getting choked. The borders were neglected last year due to a killer red ant infestation (we are both allergic to the stings) but hopefully the ants have moved on thanks to Nemasys. We don't want to have a pristine garden, I don't want to eradicate all the British native wildflowers (we have forget me nots, buttercups, bluebells etc all growing like weeds, but quite like them).

We grow food- so want to stick to organic, but the horsetail is going to be the death of me. Should I just keep pulling... or should we move?? grin

Kernowgal Mon 27-May-13 09:27:18

Oh my giddy aunt, that's quite a list! I'd start off by tackling the Himalayan Balsam as you don't want it to get to the point where it's pinging out its seeds. That should pull out relatively easily. The horsetail is a nightmare - I had it on my last allotment and it was such a pain in the arse and we never resolved the issue.

Then I'd take out any border plants that you want to keep and wash the root balls off to remove any trace of weed roots (esp bindweed). Then pot on and put aside to be replanted later on.

Do you mean Japanese Knotweed? If so you will probably need to seek advice from the local council as there are very strict rules in place about getting rid of it. If another sort then it's a case of digging out as much as you can and then burning it!

Most of the ones listed can be dug out or pulled (though make sure you get at least 2/3 of dandelion and dock roots out or they'll regenerate). Bindweed can go very very deep so you may need to dig down to get as much as you can. It will eventually bugger off if you continually pull out the white roots and don't let the leaves grow but this will take several years. Some people let it grow up bamboo poles and then dig down to pull out the roots; never tried this but it's an option.

Like you I garden organically but I think in your situation I would be very tempted to use glyphosate to get rid of the perennial weeds completely right now, otherwise you will end up facing the same battle again next year. It's supposedly non-residual so wouldn't affect veg crops though there is usually a period of time after which it's safe to plant in the same spot. More pernicious weeds may require several applications though.

Mirage Mon 27-May-13 20:41:13

I have successfully treated knotweed.You will need Roundup Biactive,not any other sort as it isn't strong enough.Read the label,but I think from memory the ratio for knotweed is 1/3 weedkiller to 2/3 water.What I did was mix it with wallpaper paste so it sticks,and paint it onto the leaves.It is easiest to do this when they are fairly low,but the best results are when you apply it in September.At this point the plant is drawing down energy from the leaves to the rhizome and draws down the Roundup with it.

It sounds time consuming but I have treated 2 separate gardens this way and although it took 2 seasons,the knotweed hasn't returned.Just be aware that after the first years treatment,it can grow back in a distorted form,so be sure you don't miss any because it doesn't look like it did.You may need to monitor where it was for a few years too,as it has a reputation for coming back from the dead.Horsetail can be treated in a similar way,but you need to bruise the plant before you apply the Roundup,as it has a waxy coating which deflects liquids.

If you need any more help,just let me know[,Roundup is approved by the soil association so is technically organic]

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