The battle of the weed field

25 Apr

The highs of the weekend have been swiftly replaced with a  heavy dose of reality. My friend’s tomato seedlings I diligently planted withered and died on day two. The bark chip path is sprouting more weeds than I thought possible and my garlic patch that I weeded so carefully only a week or so ago is now covered in more weeds.

weeds V bark chip

They just won’t go away!

One surprising thing I learnt recently in all the Thatcher furore was that it’s almost 28 years since the battle of the bean field.  While I cannot claim my own battle against weeds is anywhere near as epic or news worthy I do feel that calling it a battle is not an exaggeration. I have mentioned before – they come back. When I mentioned this to plot neighbours several explained to me how some of the weeds I am battling against actually work.

This is useful because in war it’s always good to know your enemy. What I didn’t know is that some of the bushy grassy like weeds send out underground shooters that then pop up in your freshly cleared vegetable plot. No wonder it’s felt like such an uphill struggle. No sooner have we cleared an area, turn our backs for three days and they are back. They have underground pathways we knew nothing about. When I lamented this to another plot neighbour he said ‘If I were you’ and to be fair an awful lot of sentences start like that down on the allotment, ‘I’d just spray the whole lot with round up and have done with it.’

If there’s anyone out there who has been with this blog from the start they will know that ‘to round up or not round up’ was our first allotment ethical dilemma when we had weeds four foot high. We’ve opted not to again and again because I wanted an organic plot more than anything else back then.

So it’s with a fairly weighty heart that I report today I spent my time buying and spraying weed killer. I got one that bio degrades and is safe to plant on in forty days. We are using it only on the bit that will become a herb garden and on the third still un-dug bed which currently is pushing up the membrane with untameable weeds and sending out underground shooters to all our semi weed free beds. We have no plans to plant anything on that bed for a year so I figured it has to be done as there just is not enough time to do it all by hand and those weeds just keep coming back.

herb garden befroe weedkiller

The area  that will one day become a herb garden, before being sprayed with the dreaded weed killer!

The bark chip didn’t work as a weed suppressant, ditto membrane on the un-dug section – it’s still so uneven the light can get in, nurturing the weeds and keeping them alive. According to plot neighbours there is an annual plot inspection in six weeks time in which letters of warnings maybe issued at the merest hint of a weed on your patch. So for time impoverished people like us this felt like the only realistic solution.

Of course as I sprayed part of me thought this is so typical us, doing it once things have been planted, hoping the wind doesn’t carry it onto my veg patch so it kills stuff I actually want to grow. Had I known we would end up doing this I would have just done it last year but then this is a voyage of discovery and I knew nothing last year, I know only a little bit more now. And will it actually work after all this dilemma-ing? As always with the allotment: time will tell.


2 Responses to “The battle of the weed field”

  1. Gill April 26, 2013 at 10:03 am #

    I’m sure you’re right to give in and use some chemical help in the battle with the weeds. As I’ve told you before your Grandad always used weed killers etc and yet as you remember his veg was so delicious and so different from shop bought produce. So I’m sure yours will be too! XX

    • wifi allotment April 29, 2013 at 6:57 pm #

      That’s good to know! we haven’t needed to use nearly as much as i thought we would – the membrane has worked in the middle, it’s just at the edges were there are persistent weeds! X

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