Saturday, May 21

Weeding according to need.

Our carrots were treated to their one and only weeding of the season. At this stage of their growth they were in danger of suffering serious competition from the weeds, which had relished the watering as much as the carrots had, so it was important to redress the balance and make sure that the carrots were the dominant species.

To be honest the weeding was very rough and ready – it was more a case of ripping off as much top growth as possible and as many roots as would come up easily without disturbing the young carrots.

As regular readers will know we grow our carrots under enviromesh to protect against carrot fly. There’s not much point giving this protection if we keep removing the mesh to weed so from now on the carrots will be one their own. As it was most of the weeding was down with the top half of me joining the carrots under the mesh and occasionally being pinned down under the mesh by our house guest when she sat on the mesh whilst I weeded under it. (I better explain that our house guest is four legged and furry).

Experience has shown that once the carrots start to grow strongly that they can hold their own against weeds. The only reasons to weed the carrots more often would be to make the bed look tidier or to stop weed seeds spreading but as this is covered it is out of sight anyway so should not be the subject of any complaints.
I also weeded the onion bed but here a completely different method was employed. This time I wanted to remove as much weed growth root and all as I could. Once the weeds become too large it is difficult to remove them without uprooting the onion bulbs and onions can rot at the base if the weeds trap too much moisture and restrict air circulation, (too much moisture now that is a joke at the moment!)

I have a different method of weeding under the fruit trees. I really don’t want to start digging about around the roots of established fruit bushes and trees so whenever I have few minutes to spare I hoe off the tops of the weeds. In dry weather the tops soon shrivel and die. Most of the weeds are annuals but any perennial weeds will eventually give up the ghost after being repeatedly given this treatment.

For tall, thick growing crops - for instance once the potato tops or brassicas are well grown we tend to pull out the weeds once they have become visible above the crops. If we have time we will weed underneath too if we feel things are getting out of hand.

As for potatoes earthing as well as helping prevent potato tubers from being exposed to the light also keeps down the weeds.
On the plot the basic principle for weeding is whatever is best for the plants - if weeding is going to damage the plants them we leave them. Of course in the garden it is entirely different as we want the garden to look at its best - fortunately as most of our planting in the garden is fairly permanent we don't have as much of a battle with weeds. Haven't you noticed that recently dug soil soon produces a new crop of annual weeds as digging brings the dormant seeds to the surface. Chickweed seed can lie dormant in the soil for 40 years so what chance do we have of winning the battle against it?

Nest cam update
We think we have five surviving chicks some are looking very fluffy and cute now but I am a bit concerned that one doesn't appear to be thriving as much as the others.

Dahlia update
We thought all our dahlia tubers had rotted over winter but on clearing the pile of straw we found that the tubers that were left planted under the pile rather than those that were dug up are now producing shoots.


  1. Looks like you've got a bumper crop of carrots there. Glad to hear that your dahlias have made it.

  2. I have just harvested my carrot crop next time I am going to grow three times the amount.

  3. That is a lot of carrot and potatoes. Does not look easy to weed on the carrot bed. Weeding always remain the last task to do in my list;-).

  4. Wow, your plants look well on. So many! Kelli

  5. A masterclass on weeds Sue, and a reminder to me to look under the nets and weed my carrots. They are no way as big as yours, if there are any there at at all in the carpet of green. I'll only know if it's a case of start all over again after some forensic weeding. Once again I am left wondering: How did I let it get to this state?!

  6. If they are grow Jo - there's a long way to go yet

    You can never have too many carrots Cathy - bought carrots just don't have the same flavour.

    They are really in need of a good downpour Kelli but then again the weeds would love that too

    Our's were just the same Mal - carrot leaves peeking out from a see of fat hen, chickweed and speedwell amongst other things . You can see there are still some weeds in amongst the rows of carrots but the carrots can now outgrow the weeds - I hope.

  7. I like your pragmatic approach to weeding, but your plot looks rather more immaculate than I fear mine does after a week away! Enviromesh does indeed conceal a multitude of sins. Sorry about the chick loss, hope the struggling youngster makes it, although sadly I think you'll find that a survival rate of a third is typical.

  8. We've already lost over a third of the chicks though Janet - I know that 5 - 6 eggs is more usual though.

    By the way if you are interested there is more about the dahlia tuber survival here on my website - just scroll down to 19 May

  9. Hi Sue, good tips on thinking about weeding and it's effects on plants. How soon do you start your potatoes and how deep do they need? I'm unfamiliar with a lot of garden pests and disease, so I'm sure I'll have a lot of questions about those matters as I progress! Your gardens are looking quite tidy and healthy!

  10. Hi Jenni, I have a description on how we plant our potatoes on my website here which may be of some help.

    We don't grow main crop potatoes - just first and second earlies but these do store and see us through most of the year. WE planted in April exact dates are on this web page here

    Photos don't always show the whole truth though - we do have untidy areas which we only show now and again!

  11. Jenni, Just to add our planting schedule and potato varieties try to fit in with avoiding a late frost and lessening the effect of late potato blight. Usually by the time blight occurs the potato tops have made enough growth to provide a good crop.

  12. Thanks Sue, I'm going to visit the postings you linked too. I'm trying potatoes this year in large pots, but seems I might have been able to start them sooner..? At any rate, more research for me :)

  13. We've grown potatoes in bags in the greenhose Jenni, We didn't actually plant them sooner although we could have but they have massive tops compared to the ones outdoors.

    There's a couple of photos in this album here about the 10th or 11th photo

  14. Wow! Everything looks great!
    I can't wait to have a serious go at growing carrots... Did you direct sow yours?

  15. We sow the seeds directly into shallow trenches of compost Phoebe. It's important not to let the compost dry out and this year with the dry soil we water the trenches before sowing.

    There's more detail of how we grow our carrots on my web site here

  16. That's more carrots in one place than I've ever seen in my life! lol

    The rest of the plot is looking pretty imrpessive too, well done! :)

  17. Hopefully they will grow into edible sizes P&M

    Have to admit that just over the tops of our potato photo is our neighbours plot - now if you want to see tidy theirs is it!

  18. Wow..your carrots look great...mine haven't germinated very well this year so I may sow some more to see if I have any better luck!!

    I love your weeding philosophy....I'm just not sure I could carry it out as I am way to picky to leave them in...however having said that I know that my plot is a real mess at the minute and I am hoping to get some good weeding done this weekend...I think I will try the 'hoeing' thing though.....

  19. The wind blew the enviromesh off so I guess my efforts to keep the carrot fly out could have been in vain!

    Our plot is a bit large for us to be too fussy Tanya and sometimes it really isn't good for the crop plants to disturb them too much - apparently allowing chickweed to grow around the base of brassicas confuses the cabbage root fly as there is no clear boundary between root and soil.


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