Weeding is a marmite job, some gardeners gain great satisfaction from a day spent weeding, others simply hate it. So why is weeding so important? Weeds compete with plants for light, nutrients and water. Left alone they will also smother and suffocate plants and harbour pests and diseases.
1. Mind the Gap!
Bare soil is an open invitation for weeds to move in and they will quickly take up residence. Once established they will be hard to evict. So, avoid leaving empty spaces although at the same time do take account of recommended planting distances. Whilst waiting for immature plants to bulk up the space in-between can be mulched which will both suppress the weeds and improve the soil.
2. “Pull when Wet, Hoe when Dry”
Weeds can be easily pulled from wet soil but in dry weather conditions hoeing is kinder on the back and knees and just as efficient. Hoe just below the surface of the soil and leave the weeds to dry and die in the sun. If you do hoe in the rain, then pick up the weeds to prevent them re-rooting. When weeding by hand use a handfork and make sure you don’t leave any roots or rhizomes behind. Easier said than done!
3. Do Not Disturb
Whether or not you can see them your soil is likely to be full of weed seeds. The good news is that only those close enough to the surface will receive enough light to germinate. So, avoid any unnecessary digging or other form of soil disturbance and let sleeping weeds lie.
4. Off with their Heads!
If for any reason you cannot remove the weeds, then do cut them down ensuring all flowerheads are removed before they have chance to set seed.
5. Nice and Dry
In dry weather make sure that you water your plants and not the weeds. Allowing weeds to bake and die in the sun will also stop any weed seeds already in the soil from germinating.