I am a fan of the works of Lewis Carroll, and have been since I was a small boy. What I like about the “Alice” books is their topsy turveyness, things happen when they are not supposed to happen. And so it is with weeds here in Spain. In the normal organised world weeds grow in Summer and die in Winter; but not here in Spain, weeds grow in Winter and die in Summer. The end result of all this is that it is time to get weeding.
15th November: Things I have been doing lately.
Weeding borders with bulbs: The secret to successful border weeding is “hoe, hoe, hoe”, that’s my seasonal joke. But it’s true, if you hoe beds at least once a week with a sharp hoe then they will remain weed free. However, there is one exception, and that is where you have bulbs planted. When they first emerge, most bulbs look exactly like a blade of grass. If you happily continue to hoe, you will successfully behead all your bulbs (see the Queen of Hearts – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland). It is important that you mark where you have placed bulbs so that you remember year to year where they are. I mark where I have planted bulbs with white stones (see Lewis Carroll diaries) – great literature and gardening, I hope I am not casting pearls before swine here.
The photo below shows an area of border where bulbs are planted, but as you can see it is difficult to tell which is the bulb stem and which is weed grass. You can’t hoe because you would kill friend and foe; what to do.
What you need to do, is what you should always do in life when you have problems – get on your knees. Not just for praying – though that is important – but to weed by hand. And I mean weed by hand, no gloves and no trowel, just good old fingers. Get your hands in amongst the grass and the bulbs, and by feeling the stems you will be able to differentiate between each. The grass will have thin flat blades which bend easily, whilst the bulb growth will be slightly rounded and more unyielding. Using your fingers get amongst them and tease out the grass, don’t try and get roots out, just pull out the top growth. You will have to do this weekly, to keep the grass in check, but after a few weeks the bulbs will out compete the grass for light and they will win the race for space and you can stop. The photo below shows the bulbs newly released from their weed hell. I explained to my wife Cruella that it is a bit like a hostage situation with me as the negotiator, she just rolled her eyes and called me an idiot. Personally I think I am the Jack Reacher of gardening; but not the Tom Cruise version, the bigger one you see in your imagination.
Weeding rose beds: Now weeding rose beds is my least favourite type of weeding (everyone has their favourite don’t they – oh well, just me then). The predicament I face is that my main rose beds are only 2/3years old, and therefore still quite close to the ground, see the photo below. This means that weeds get underneath them and get especially close to the stems. To get at the weeds normally involves a bloodbath, where I lose pints of blood trying to get the weeds out from under the stems. The rose thorns shred my hands and arms as I try valiantly to save them from weeds. As I take a daily aspirin, I then bleed profusely and end up changing the colour of the roses with my blood; a bit like the gardeners in Alice’s Adventures In wonderland – I bet you didn’t see that coming eh!
My new solution, which involves slightly less blood loss is to paint neat weed killer directly onto the weeds with a small brush. I did try and use an empty roller deodorant filled with weed killer (which I planned to patent) but the bloody thing didn’t work, it just wouldn’t roll. Anyway, the photo below shows me applying the weed killer. Cruella took the photograph, she kept telling me I had a stupid look on my face and that I should look down, but she was just trying to let everyone know my hair is thinning.