Garden Notes 6th February 2018

This week in the garden, we will be continuing to remove our three major nuisance perennial weeds from the meadow. Many of these weeds you may already be familiar with. They are couch grass, bindweed and mare’s tail.  Read on and you will see we have a battle on our hands!

Couch grass has a distinctive wiry white rhizomous roots that can run long distances just under the surface of the soil, just emerging from time to time to establish a new plant. This method of spreading itself allows the couch grass to spread rapidly and out compete many more slower growing plants.

Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) is a member of the Convolvulus family and looks pretty when climbing through hedgerows with its white trumpet shaped flowers. It’s closely related to the blue morning glory flower Ipomoea indica. Also in the same family are sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas).  All have typical heart shaped leaves and trumpet shaped flowers.  Bindweed has thick-ish white roots that easily snap, and for gardeners this is a problem because if even the shortest segments of root are left behind in the soil these can and almost certainly will grow into new plants! These white roots are used by the bindweed as storage organs, and we can see something similar occurring in its close relative which produces large sweet tasting tuberous roots i.e. the the sweet potato.  Bindweed, being a member of the Convolvulus family is well named in that ‘convolvere’ in latin means to roll together and entwine which is exactly what the stems do, wrapping themselves around more woody plants which it uses as natural plants supports to assist it in reaching the sunlight.

Mare’s tail (in Latin, Equisetum arvense), is an invasive, deep- rooted perennial that likes moist conditions and finds the upper edge of our meadow with the considerable water run-off from the greenhouses an ideally damp habitat! It has fast-growing rhizomes (underground stems) that quickly send up dense stands of foliage. Like ferns, they are primitive plants that reproduce by spores, and they were around when the dinosaurs walked the earth, so they are tough ancient survivors of the plant world! We will be doing well just to keep them in check.

We will be tidying up our plant stand and plant sales area beside the upper greenhouses. Many plant pots need weeding and we will be aiming to make them and this area look at bit tidier.

We will continue working on the bug hotel in the woodland and will do some landscaping of that area too. The ground is very uneven, and we will be levelling it to make it easier to walk on.

The Nissan hut needs a good tidy and so does the tool shed.

We will continue to build the willow spiral in the centre of seating circle. When completed this will become a herb planter.

The fern bank needs a light weed and while doing this we can enjoy the sight of the primroses that are flowering there.

Excitingly, the cultivation season is about to start and we really need your help with planting seeds from next week until May as well as, later on, moving the seedlings on. There will be cultivation sessions in the greenhouse most days. You can see what we’re going to grow for sale this year here.

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