Taking us to Chelsea in 2007.
Live images in March from Melbourne & Chelsea in May.
Please tell your friends. No one else will.
Written by Wally Richards. 14th April 2007
Written by Wally Richards.
Written by Wally Richards. [Photo]
WEEDS-THE OTHER PLANTS
Weeds are both a boon and a curse to gardeners. You may ask what advantage
is there in having weeds?
Two aspects immediately spring to mind, weeds are a free source of organic
matter for composting and mulching but must be cut and harvested before
they set seeds.
The second advantage is a much more complex one which many farmers have
a reasonable knowledge of, that is the type of weeds found growing in
various areas indicate two important markers, the pH of the soil and the
mineral content of the soil in weed growing area.
In the home garden situation each of us have our own batch of weeds that
germinate and grow either consistently or only appear at certain times
of the year.
Many weeds are easy to deal with if they are removed before they are allowed
to set seeds and increase the problem. Others such as oxalis are more
difficult to control once they become established.
Grass weeds are likely to be the most prolific weeds we have to deal with
in our gardens and any other area that can allow a seed to germinate,
such as in cracks in a concrete path.
Our own lawns can produce thousands of grass seeds which carried by wind,
water or our own actions will distribute grass seeds to where we do not
want a new lawn.
In my book ‘Wally’s Down to Earth Gardening Guide’ I devoted a good sized
chapter to the control of weeds in the home garden giving both safe and
chemical ways to control the more common plus hard to control weeds.
Regular readers of my weekly column will be aware that I am dead against
the use of chemicals in the home garden and I have not used any chemical
weed killers for over 10 years.
Prior to that I was a great user of Roundup then having an expensive,
state of the art, back pack sprayer unit, solely for weed killing. Every
2-3 months out would come the pack and in would go the Roundup and water
to spray every inch of the section that supported weeds. Believing in
those times that Glyphosate (The active ingredient in Roundup) was a safe
chemical to use and it would break down quickly leaving no prolonged residue
in the soil. I began to realise the harmful effects of the chemical when
one of my expensive Shar Pei dogs developed skin problems, which turned
out to be caused by Glyphosate. (Going into recently sprayed areas)
Another aspect also occurred, which after many years of using Glyphosate
in my nurseries and at home, without any protection whatsoever, I was
beginning to feel out of sorts for a couple of days after spraying.
In other words my body was developing an allergic reaction to the chemical.
I have read that numerous people become faint if they just get a whiff
of Glyphosate being sprayed in the neighbourhood.
If you come to realise that most of the non-organic food you buy will
have traces of Glyphosate,
so even without you using Glyphosate as a weed killer, your
body is likely absorbing this chemical.
If you intend
to use any type of chemical spray you should wear all the protective clothing
that is available, a full spray suit with respirator leaving no part of
your body exposed is best.
OK so you look like you are ready for a trip to the moon but at least
you are safer.
It reminds me of a story I was told about a lady that was at a park where
her young children were playing.
A fully protected park employee was spraying nearby and being concerned
about her children she called out to the man to find out what he was spraying.
He replied back, ‘Oh its ok, its quite safe’ Yeah Right!
You always are learning and recently I attended a ‘Farmsafe’ course about
agrichemicals. It is a one day course which I would recommend all gardeners
to do, as you can learn a lot about safety in chemical handing and use.
You know how we think that spraying a chemical on a calm day is best?
Completely wrong as the spray droplets float on the air surrounding the
user and with conventional currents, are lifted up, to spread over vast
areas. It is far safer to spray when there is a light breeze as you can
avoid breeze carried droplets from travelling to non target areas.
A housing over the end of your spray wand
is also a safe way to use chemical weed killers to ensure your spray particles
hit the target and stay there inside the housing.
One of the big problems with chemical weed killers is the damage that
they do to the soil life. Killing beneficial soil populations including
worms does not make for healthy gardens and plants.
If you need to use a chemical weed killer you can reduce this problem
by adding Thatch Busta to the chemical spray. It will do three things,
Thatch Busta is a food for the beneficials so it counteracts some of the
damage the chemical causes, it can make the spray/kill more effective
and it will help clean up the dying weeds faster.
Many chemical weed killers have to enter the foliage of the target plant
to work and every plant has a natural barrier to some degree to prevent
this happening. This is more so on shiny and hairy leafed weeds. By adding
Raingard to the spray assists the chemical to penetrate the foliage and
results in up to 50% more effective kill.
I explained in my book, how the use of these two natural products
added to a chemical weed killer can mean you can use less of the chemical
and still obtain the same results. That in itself will be a saving of
time and money.
There are many safe ways to control weeds without having to use chemicals.
The first thing to remember is that any weed or plant cannot survive indefinitely
without leaves to gather energy from the sun. For instance if you cut
off at ground level the leaves of oxalis or convolvulus and continued
to do so as soon as new leaves appeared then after a time the bulbs or
roots will fail to produce more leaves, having exhausted all its energy.
The root or bulb would then naturally rot away. But on the other hand
if you dug the ground trying to lift the bulbs or roots you would actually
spread the problem further. Many of you will be aware of this when you
tried to dig up and sift out the bulbs of oxalis.
By the way baking soda with Raingard added is ideal way to kill oxalis
without harming other non related plants. This spray must be done on a
hot sunny day when the ground is on the dry side.
This aspect of a sunny day with drier soil is a key time for any weed
control as all plants are in a weakened state at that time. A spray of
a cheap cooking oil will dehydrate the foliage of any weeds sprayed in
Weeding by hand is an enjoyable way to spend an hour or so outside on
a mild day.
If you have a healthy soil it is best to not disturb the soil any more
than need be.
For instance if instead of pulling out weeds you cut them off at ground
level with a sharp knife and you leave the roots in the ground to feed
the soil life as they decompose. You also do not interrupt the webs of
beneficial fungi that attach themselves to the weeds and then across to
your preferred plants nearby, thus making a free food source for your
garden plants. Perennial weeds such as docks need to be sliced below ground
with a sharp knife to cut off the crown of the weed.
The foliage of all weeds cut can be left on bare soil as a natural mulch
or taken to the compost heap.
Just ensure that the weeds have not been allow to reach seeding stage.
Not using chemical weed sprays anymore and not having sufficient spare
time to weed I have solved much of my weed problems by having raised gardens
with either weed mat or empty compost bags on the ground to prevent weeds
establishing. My back yard has free ranging chooks which never allow a
weed to grow. (It used to be a problem when I stopped using chemical weed
Keeping free range chickens may not be every ones cup of tea but if you
can provide a small hen house and use netting to keep them in the area
you want cleared then you cant go past having a few of these wonderful
birds. Any costs of grain fed is offset by wholesome free range eggs.
Problems ring me at 0800 466 464 (Palmerston North 3570606)
Web site www.gardenews.co.nz
Garden Pages and News at www.gardenews.co.nz
Shar Pei pages at www.sharpei.co.nz
out the Event Calendar. If you want your activity included, just let us
know. Thank you.