Finally, the rain has stopped for long enough for the soil to dry out enough to begin the laborious task of digging and weeding. This is when I regret having such a large garden, but this feeling soon passes as the garden is transformed from weedy overgrown mess to something respectable. And when I am sitting in my garden with a basket full of goodies to make our dinner table fresh and exciting I give my early spring self a bit of a nod for all the hard work and care and attention that makes the abundant harvest possible.
Because it is down to the hard work done in these early days in the garden that determine the ultimate success. An inevitable part of getting the garden ready for the spring is to clear away the weeds and I have to say they are very sneaky. Even the most well cared for garden isn’t immune. All it takes is a few weeks of inclement spring weather and boom – they adore it in there and flourish. Tiny little specimens barely noticed soon become your worst nightmare.
And so I have been watching with horror as day after day and week after week my poor sodden garden became greener and greener and not through my enthusiastic gardening efforts, but my lack of them. Beds that were once declared ‘spring ready’ a few months ago were now riddled with weeds and I longed for conditions to be ideal so I could tackle them.
Well this day has come and I have been able to reacquaint myself with some of my old nemesis that like to attempt domination in my garden. Dock and buttercup are two of my most common foe and due to the damp conditions in my swamp soil, they really can’t be avoided. Weeds like certain soil conditions and once you understand this, you can almost predict who will pop up each year. I have managed to reduce the numbers over the years but until the conditions change they will always be there. The best way to tackle these is remove them while they are little – as it is much easier. This applies to all weeds to be honest. But sometimes it isn’t possible at all and I don’t recommend weeding in the rain. Besides you lose half of your garden soil, clinging to the roots of stubborn weeds if you try to weed in soil that isn’t dry enough. The other key with these is to make sure you remove every last little trace. A tiny piece of dock root left deep in the soil will regrow and be stronger than ever!
Other weeds that can be a pain in the garden aren’t difficult to remove, but they spread so quickly that it takes just as much effort as difficult plants as you seem to take twice as long to clear the earth. Weather permitting it is best to remove these before they set seed. Like grass. I have so many grass clumps making themselves at home in my former salad and soon to be brassica bed that it could almost mow it and call it a lawn. Except I don’t want it to be one. And it wasn’t that long ago that this was one of my ‘in control’ beds!
So once you know what you are dealing with, then the key is the right tool for the job. There is no point struggling away trying to rip something out with your bare hands when you can pry it out with a garden fork or in a tight space twist it out with weeding trowel designed for the purpose. When you have a huge weedy mess to tackle you need to work smarter, not harder so you don’t end up completely exhausted with achy muscles at the end of the day.
Another tip is to work with the weeds behind you so when you look up to wipe the sweat off your brow, all you see is what you have achieved and not what you still have to do. It is much better for your motivation and self-encouragement that way – at the end can often come as a surprize!
So having spent a few days out there toiling in the soil, I’m about to jump back into it so my garden is for once and for all ‘spring ready!’
Come again soon – Once the weeds are gone we can get on with the fun stuff – planting stuff!
Sarah the Gardener : o)