Wet & Windy May, Using Glyphosate

I wonder if it’s a law of nature, bank holidays shall be wet! I know, half the country is suffering drought but we’re in the wet bit. Anyway, I’m ready for a dry spell now if we ever get one, the second water barrel arrived and is connected up.

Our neighbours to the rear actually supply most of their water by harvesting rain water. They’ve an intermittent spring so to keep a continual supply they catch the rain from the roof. Not being on the mains means they don’t have to pay for a water supply but they have to provide the tankage, pumps and filtration / sterilisation equipment. All in all, I’m thinking that mains water isn’t a bad deal!

It’s not only been wet, it’s been cold and windy as well. Now this might not be as bad as it feels right now, apparently there’s a saying that “A cold May and a windy, a full barn will find ye” So there’s hope for a good growing summer yet.

Clearing a plot – glyphosate.

It’s always a point of contention, to spray or not to spray. You take on an overgrown plot with perennial weeds such as couch grass or ground elder and you’ve got two real choices. Spray it over and kill them off or be prepared for a lot of extra digging over the years to come.

Personally I dislike over use of chemicals but I think they have their place and this is one of them. Those weeds that re-grow from just a bit of root left in the ground can be really dispiriting, especially when they pop up in the middle of a crop so you can’t realistically cultivate them out.

As herbicides go, glyphosate is pretty good. You spray it onto the growing weeds and they take it down to the roots and through some chemical magic, kill off the plant. Once the spray hits the ground, it deactivates and so you can plant out as soon as the old weeds are dead and the ground cultivated.

I don’t know of any side effects associated with glyphosate or risks to the environment if used sparingly in accordance with the instructions but a nagging bit of me remembers DDT. The miracle insecticide that was perfectly safe, you could eat it on your sarnies! Well, we know more now than we did then. Hopefully we know more about the risks and long term effects of chemicals and all is as safe as the experts tell us.

What sparked me to talk about this is an email asking me about clearing a new plot with couch grass using glyphosate. I’ve got a couple of articles on the site about clearing new allotments that may be helpful: Clearing a New Allotment, which is my advice on what to do and the humorous You Have an Allotment!

Greenhouse Wind Damage

The windy May has resulted in a lot of greenhouses being converted to scrap metal and broken glass. I know we’re shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted, but we can be sure that we’ll have high winds again so this article on preventing damage to greenhouses in high winds could be worth a read.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
2 comments on “Wet & Windy May, Using Glyphosate
  1. Richard says:

    Hi John,
    Firstly, thank you for a great, informative site. I used to live over in England and had an allotment there for a short while. After coming home, I waited and waited on a waiting list, as you do, and finally got a plot here about a year and a half ago. Love it! It is not as big as the English plot, but still a decent size.
    I never considered using weedkillers on the plot. Personally, I feel it defeats the purpose of growing food. (I also note your concern about ‘what we know now about DDT…) One thing I did notice was that the half of the plot that I cultivated, weeded and looked after the most last year has far, far fewer perennial weeds this year. The annuals seem to be fewer too.
    Now, that is not to say it has not been tough going. But I am a youngish man and dont really mind a lot of digging (sshhh – I actually like it!!!).
    I’ve had plenty of ‘why do I bother…’ days with the weeds. All that said, I look forward to next year and even fewer docks and couch to remove. A slow process, perhaps, but I like it, and I know not everyone would agree!
    Thanks for all the thoughts John, Keep it up.

  2. Claire in Bromley says:

    Could you please send some of your rain down here please? Apart from a quick 20 minute storm a week ago and a drizzle for an hour or so a few days ago we have had no rain for 2 months and the plot resembles the Saharra! The weather difference between the north and west and the south east seems more marked this year. These days I pray for a shower!

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