Monday, 2 April 2012

Noxious weeds even in great soil

Mary-glamorous gardener
Went down to Waterford on Sunday to put in some hedging for my dear mother in law, feed her roses and mow the lawn. She has a very old, very pretty garden that my father in law Pat took great pride in for years. He grew lots of veg, had a glasshouse for Tomatoes and collected lots of fruit from apple, plum, pear and blackcurrants.After his death Mary began to do a little bit of veg herself and to keep up the tradition of picking the apples and distributing them to as many people as possible. Mary is from Tipperary, where there wasn't "a sniff of an apple" (as she says herself) to be had when she was growing up, so she treasures all her home grown fruit, especially the apples.And I cant forget to mention the blackcurrant jam-made during Wimbledon to keep all in and out laws supplied for the year ahead.
The old apple tree surrounded by bluebells

beautiful black earth
One remarkable thing about the soil in her Garden is how rich, black and crumbly it is. As I was digging it I couldn't help but compare it to my lumpy clay soil here in Limerick. It just powdered as it dug, no clods, no clumps, beautiful stuff. All the gardens in the town were highly productive, each were long old Victorian style generous gardens, each having a selection of fruit trees and most with a veg patch too. It's sad to see how many of those trees are gone, torn down or abandoned to ivy and neglect. I doubt very many of them are supporting vegetables these days either. Mary's garden must be one of the last truly cared for and her apple tree is lucky to have her as its custodian.

veg garden under the pear
No matter how perfect the garden seems, (sheltered, sunny and perfect soil here in Waterford) there is always some thing to contend with and Marys garden is no exception.She has a galloping invasion of ground elder that is swamping her lawn, threatening to overwhelm the vegetable garden and her pretty flower garden. Its a constant battle to keep it under control and its one of the biggest problems in town gardens where your state of weeds is very much dependant on the husbandry next door. It must be a nightmare in Allotments when one bad gardener can literally spoil the whole plot.

If you don't know what it looks like check it out in this pic. Invasive weeds like ground elder and knot weed are a torment to gardening. If you have them, even in small quantities try to get them under control or get them out.

Ground elder. It runs by roots and clumps rapidly

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