March 2018 Meeting of the Ashdon Gardening Club
Geoff Hodge talked about "The Weed Free Garden"
Geoff Hodge is a freelance gardening and horticultural writer for such publications as Garden News and Garden Answers, an author, editor and radio and television broadcaster. He also tests garden products.
Geoff reminded us that this is the fourth time he has been to Ashdon. Unfortunately for most of us, it was the first time we had heard one of his talks.
He started off with the definition of weeds which we knew as plants growing in the wrong place and wildflowers. The latter he consigned to meadows. The types of weeds are annuals, biennials and perennials. The last type are the worst to get rid of since they set a lot of seeds and are very hardy. They need to be removed immediately they come to the surface. He showed us the sort of tools to use, such as a fork with round tines for clay soil, a rockery trowel for dandelions and a patio knife and confirmed that the most useful tool is the Dutch hoe (providing it is kept sharp). A few minutes at a time are all that are needed to keep the weeds down, provided it is done frequently. He also showed us more modern equipment such as root extraction tools, flame throwers and a thermal shock tool for use on paving or gravel.
Geoff's next weed attacking items were chemical which included contact weedkillers which only kill that they touch, and systemic killers based on glyphosates which are good for perennial weeds since they are absorbed into the plant and root system. He warned against being too eaager to see results since they take 2 to 3 weeks to show results. Paths and patio weedkillers use glyphosates and a residual ingredient, then there are intelligent weedkillers for lawns.
Other methods of eradicating weeds are by mulching but the mulch must be 3 to 4 inches deep and by ground cover. Plants include dedicated ground covering plants such as ceonothus "Diamond Heights" or Hebe pinguifolia "Pagei", plus climbing plants such as wisteria which can cover soil if there are no supports. Herbaceous perennials such as Scabiosa "Butterfly Blue" and Hosta fortunei "Picta" can do a good job of covering areas as can bedding plants like Petunia "Purple Wave". Finally he showed us a colourful photograph of ornamental cabbages acting as ground covering plants.
Unfortunately we ran out of time, otherwise we would have been treated to a lot more entertaining information on how to obtain a weed free garden.