Dealing with persistent weeds – Diary of a Rocket Gardener

So, I talked last week about how I had let my veg plot get a little (a lot) overgrown and wild and how I was working to restore it to its former glory.

One of the major jobs for me is tackling the lower bed by the fence where all the nettles, brambles, ivy and bindweed creep in from the even more wild garden on the other side. The bed measures about 8m long by 2m wide, so it’s a sizeable area, and there are roots everywhere. Everywhere! It’s a bit of a mission to be honest, but I’m getting there.

One of the most useful things I have learnt through no-dig gardening is the way we can use a readily available material to help suppress weeds – cardboard. And I think most of us have plenty of cardboard coming through our homes with deliveries and so forth.┬áHere’s how I’m tackling these persistent weeds with cardboard…

Step 1 – I am breaking my no-dig and getting my garden fork out to dig up the very worst of the roots. Handfuls and handfuls of spaghetti-like bindweed roots have already been gathered and added to a bonfire for future burning, along with the nettles, ivy and all the others.

Step 2 – I’m covering the entire bed with cardboard – all the tape and sticky labels etc are removed first, leaving me with just plain brown cardboard that will now block the light from reaching the many roots that I haven’t managed to dig out (I’m sure there are loads!)

Step 3 – I will then cover the cardboard with multipurpose compost – I plan to load it up nice and thick depending on my budget. It will be thick enough to plant some pumpkin and squash plugs straight away, and as the cardboard begins to weaken the plants will be able to push their roots right down into the soil below.

Step 4 – I will mulch the bed with Strulch (any regular readers will know that I rave about Strulch – google it. It’s fab.) This will further block light from the weed roots below, and it will hopefully prevent new weeds from getting established.

Step 5 – I will try my hardest to keep on top of any weeds encroaching outside the fence, but more importantly, I will be pulling up ANY little shoots as soon as they pop their heads above the ground. I know there will be some little hellos from nettles, brambles and bindweed – but the more often I pull it up, the weaker and weaker the plants will get.

I don’t expect to eradicate these weeds entirely from this bed, not unless I strim the garden outside it on a weekly basis all summer to stop the encroaching, but it’s a shared garden and I don’t want to overstep. So, the idea is to try and get it all more manageable, and this technique is a good way of managing persistent weeds of all sorts, even japanese knotweed!