Weedy heaven

02:29, Jul 24 2012

Of all the chores that need to be done in the garden, weeding is probably the one that people dislike the most. I, on the other hand, quite enjoy it. There is something meditative about it, and I relish having the opportunity to get my hands in the soil. It keeps me in touch with what's happening down there; is it boggy after lots of rain? Are there worms in it? I also like that it gives me the chance to learn more about plants, and the various ways they grow, because I have every weed known to man in there.

There are weeds that grow by runners; others have bulbs, form in clumps, have rhizomes. The variety is endless. The strip I am now trying to transform into a kitchen garden is rife with creeping buttercup, and though I seem to spend ages weeding it out, I kind of enjoy the way the roots of the runners pop when I ease them out of the soil; like harvesting carrots, only less edible. We also have a tonne of onion weed, and it's frustrating to get rid of because the tops snap when you try to get it out, leaving behind its tiny white bulbs to grow back again. But when, at the weekend, I found a patch that was easy to dig out with my trowel, I was in weedy heaven. It was so amazing, I took a picture of it.

Working alongside me were the chooks. I put them to work in Shirley's garden, I got them to dig over the mustard cover crop I'd sown where the summer's tomatoes had been. Not only did they enjoy foraging in new ground, dust bathing in the mulch and nibbling at the mustard, it was like an exciting day out for them to explore new ground. The dug-in mustard should add organic matter to the soil, getting it ready for the zucchinis I'm going to plant this coming summer.

Weeding might be all well and good, but what do you do with the weeds afterwards? I keep two buckets beside me while I'm weeding; one for weeds I can throw in the compost, like leaves and seedlings. Others I put into the weed pit of evil, hidden right at the back of the section where there's agapanthus and wandering willie and all sorts of other horrors. In here I throw weeds that are in seed, or have bulbs like onion weed and oxalis, or can sprout again from little bits and pieces, like jasmine and wandering willie. Other harmless weeds I just leave on the surface of the soil as organic matter.

I'm also trialling the black bag method. The theory is that you put all your evil weeds into a black bag, tuck it away in a corner for six months or a year, and you end up with sludge of dead weeds that can be added back to the soil or compost so you capture the nutrients.

Another way I've disposed of my weeds is to leave them in a bucket of rainwater and when the weeds have rotted down, I use it as a fertiliser. The remaining sludge goes on the compost heap. So far, so good. Just don't try this with onion weed - the smell will absolutely knock you out.

Do you love or loathe weeding? How do you dispose of the weeds when you've dealt to them? What are some of the weeds that wage war with?

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