Clearing Comfrey Patch & Weedkiller

I’m afraid I’ve been a bit slack in keeping up my diary as I’ve been really busy on all fronts. Outside the weather is beautiful so I’m trying to get lots done and on the other hand, the new website still has glitches to be addressed. So basically there aren’t enough hours in the day.

Some time back my neighbour gave me a clump of comfrey which I split and potted up. It’s now more than ready to plant out. I’m working to a plan of sorts (stop laughing!) and the comfrey patch is by the overgrown hedge.

So, to plant the comfrey, I need to cut the hedge back and then clear the patch. But it’s ready to go out now. Having got the hedge back to give me access, I marked out the patch and sprayed it with glyphosate to kill off the grass. Once it’s died back, I’ll strip the turf, fertilise and plant up.

Fast Acting Weedkiller

This actually ties in with a question I was sent by Catherine Ryan, who asked:

I wonder if you can suggest a weed killer that will get rid of deep rooted dandelions or meadow flowers. I have just taken over an allotment and have quite a few weeds ( a lot), which are deep rooted. I have sprayed it with Roundup® but that takes quite a long time to work. Can you suggest anything that works quickly, so I can plant afterwards

Roundup’s active constituent is glyphosate which is very effective. It’s absorbed by the leaves of the plant and from there taken down to the roots. Once it’s dry (a matter of hours) it’s safe to plant in the sprayed area. However, the weeds need time to take the poison down to their roots and if you dig over too soon, they will come back.

So, you can plant by the sprayed plants safely but it takes time before you can cultivate.

Like all gardeners, there are times when it would be nice to get instant results but it rarely happens. I don’t know of anything faster than glyphosate and quite honestly I’d be loathe to use other weedkillers on land which will be growing food crops. Especially selective weedkillers (search Aminopyralid for one good reason). I don’t fully trust glyphosate, but it’s the best of a bad bunch in my book.

In fact, I’d much rather not use any weedkiller but sometimes there’s no other practical choice. I recall an allotment with a few dozen docks being rotovated and a month later the whole plot was a mass of dock leaves. Sadly the plotholder held fast to his organic principles and gave up his plot, passing his problem to the new tenant.

I must admit to getting cross with people who think they can be organic without putting in the effort. And the greatest of respect for those grow organically successfully. I’ll continue to use weedkiller for initial clearance and occasionally spot treating problem weeds.

Incidentally, if you’ve a problem with nettles you can turn that into an advantage. Keep cutting them down and treat like comfrey – add to water to make a fertiliser tea. Eventually the nettles will run out of steam and die off.but you’ve had the benefit of their nutrients

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary

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