Grow Your Own Magazine

Navbar button growfruitandveg.co.uk Logo
Forum Navigation

+ Reply to Thread
Page 1 of 5 123 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 8 of 33
  1. #1
    mbj
    mbj is offline Germinator
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    12

    Default Using chemicals to clear a plot.

    I've never done this before but I'm curious to know what I would do/use and what the risks and problems are.

    I've posted before about having a disused very overgrown plot full of mare's tail (I mean full, it's horrendous) and couch grass and bindweed - yep the full gamut. Nettles don't seem so bad anymore.

    I've covered 90% of it with tarpaulins but it's still growing underneath and I'm beginning to consider using something chemical based on it whilst it's undercover to give it that extra oomph. What do you think? What do I use?

    I am an absolute amateur in this respect, my instinct would just be to weed them out but I don't have a lot of time (3 young children and I work) and only get to the allotment at weekends anyway, selfish I know but I just want to be able to grow this/next year without thinking of it as a three year clearing project. The area I cleared and planted recently is absolutely chocka full of 6" high bindweed, couch grass and mare's tail seedlings after just two weeks of exposure to the light, my poor potatoes look very sorry for themselves, those that dared to show their face that is.

    I know chemicals aren't a good thing but what exactly would I be using and what would it do to me/my children if I were to grow things on there after using chemicals this year and next year? By that I mean what would go into the vegetables if anything? Is it going to make me turn blue with green spots ??? Seriously, is there any benefit in using the chemicals, covering the area and then using it next year - would the chemicals have dissipated?

    Thank you so much for all your wonderful advice - it's fantastic for a newbie like me!

  2. #2
    leona is offline Rooter
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    surrey
    Posts
    314

    Default

    i cant comment on any of what you asked but i saw a programme about a huge garden owned by the norther horticultural society. they had a lack of funds and workers and mares tail took over certain areas. they said there was no option but to spray. mares tail is meant to be nearly impossible to remove.

  3. #3
    Alice's Avatar
    Alice is offline Mature Fruiter
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Perthshire, Scotland.
    Posts
    7,006
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    Hello MBJ, you sure have a problem there. The weeds you have are very pernicious and difficult to get rid of, especially the mares tails. I don't think you really have any alternative but to use weed killer on them and this will probably take several treatments.

    As for using chemicals on ground where you want to grow, everything you buy in the shops has been treated with all sorts so you'll be no worse off. It will tell you on whatever product you buy when it is safe to plant and eat crops.

    I would buy a weedkiller that kills right down to the roots - it will tell you on the labels. And a sprayer. They cost a few pounds but if you use a watering can you will get through much more weed killer. Mares tails are difficult to do as water just runs off them. The theory is bruise them first but you're inclined to get bits breaking off all over the place and I'm sure they all regrow. You could try wetting them with soapy water first and see if weedkiller sticks to them better. After you've sprayed and spray is dry cover them over with the tarpaulin. Don't expect everything to die instantly. It won't. You will probably have to repeat the weedkiller 2 or 3 times and keep covered for the best part of a year.

    Sorry if this sounds pessimistic but it will work and can be done. It just takes time. Sure your just dying to grow something and see some results so pick a patch the size you think you can manage and just clear that bit by hand and start growing something for this year. It's not too late. Good luck and let's know how you get on.

  4. #4
    noshed is offline Seedling
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Posts
    53

    Default

    I would use glyphosate - it's OK to plant stuff after the weeds are dead, it breaks down in the soil. Buy the concentrate, it's cheaper and a sprayer - look in the supermarkets at the moment they seem to do the cheapest. Or you can use a watering can as long as you don't use it for anything else.
    The idea is to spray the young leaves of the weeds and the glyphosate gets taken down into the roots and kills the whole lot.
    Spray on a dry day and you will see yellowing and wilting in a few days. Repeat after a week or two.
    The old leathery leaves don't take it up as well so you might consider bashing some of the older stuff with a bill hook or similar and concentrate on spraying the younger stuff.
    There is a thing called an Allen scythe which is like a hedge clipper on a sledge, which you can hire - this would cut everything off at ground level and then you could spray the new growth as it comes up. I don't know how much they cost to hire you'd have to ring around (they have enthusiasts and probably websites) but it would probably be the quickest solution. Definately do not rotovate as this just cuts the roots up into small pieces, which all grow...
    You could chop down all the top stuff, spray it, then gradually dig out beds, depending how much time you've got - keeping an eye on the undug bits and spraying them as necessary.
    Once you get it under control you can be as organic as you like but there's no point torturing yourself in the meantime.
    Hope this helps.

  5. #5
    WiZeR is offline Tuber
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    NW Kent
    Posts
    552

    Default

    Dont be afraid of weed killer. As said before... your commercial veg has been grown using chemicals and has been for years. You using it on your plot once or twice in the first couple of years will not harm you at all and will make your life much much easier.

  6. #6
    Geordie's Avatar
    Geordie is offline Tuber
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Newcastle
    Posts
    693

    Default

    Hi MBJ,

    When I first took over my allotment there were 30 people above me on the waiting list and most had turned this one down. It sounds as if yours is in a similar way, so will give you the benefit of what i learnt.

    My attitude is to grow as organically as possible, meaning if on occasion i need to use an odd chemical, be they fertilizers or weedkillers so be it. Truly organic gardens can only exist if you have a lot of time to spend on them.

    Firstly find an allotment society near you that has a shop.....you do not need to have an allotment to join the society (nominal charge, mine is 1). You should be able to buy weedkiller at discounted prices. Mine sells 'Roundup' at 4 per litre (concentrated). This is my own experience but this is the stuff you need.

    You need to decide whether you want an area to plant up this year or whether to leave the growing till next year. Assuming you want to treat all your plot, dilute the weedkiller to a slightly stronger than recommended dose and literally soak it all using a watering can......this is where high street bought becomes expensive! (Keep the kids off) Try and pick a day when it will be dry and hopefully for the following day as well. Over the next three weeks the weeds will turn yellow and die....you can just rake them up usually You will not get them all with one application and new weeds will grow that werent hit by the weedkiller. Some of the troublesome weeds such as mares tail may need to be crushed or bruised for the weedkiller to be effective...but go for the watering can approach for the first month to get rid of the majority.

    Once I could see the soil again I started at one end, made a raised bed and double dug it incoproating manure etc as I went. Even though top growth was minimal the root system of these plants was incredible. I think you need this double pronged attack to get them to a manageable level for the years to come. I then worked my way down the allotment. Even if you dont make a raised bed, try to section areas off from one another with timber or bricks etc. Its more maneagable to pick a specific area to concentrate on than turn up and gaze at the full plot and the enormity of the task in hand.

    All in all it took about 6 months to clear and dig the plot, make the raised beds etc etc. It seems like a daunting task but my weeding now consists of a little hoeing, the odd bit of mares tail....you will never eradicate it so dont get to hung up, and the occasional dandilion.

    Good luck, go for it and hope this helps in a little way
    Geordie

    Te audire non possum. Musa sapientum fixa est in aure



  7. #7
    mbj
    mbj is offline Germinator
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    12

    Default

    Thank you everybody, I'm definitely going to do it I've decided. The infestation is so bad that I just don't have the time to dig it out properly. I'm going to buy some roundup from somewhere, treat the area and then cover it with the tarpaulins again until next spring. Thankfully the top growth is quite low because I covered it up before it had really started to get going this spring so I'm hoping it won't be too hard for the chemicals to get at the root systems. I'll leave it then until next spring and dig up each section as I uncover it trying to get all the roots out whilst they're dormant.

    I'll see what happens with the section I've uncovered this year but seeing how quickly and densely the weeds are coming back, I may have to use weed killer on that once the potatoes are out.

    Any idea how to keep grass paths down? I have bordering grass paths and they're almost knee high every time I go. I don't have a petrol powered strimmer and no other way to cut it down other than perhaps grass shears? (is that the right term, are they grass shears?) My dad thought walking on them would keep them down but it doesn't. We only go at the weekends so it isn't getting enough trampling. How do people usually keep grass paths manageable without buying/hiring petrol strimmers?

  8. #8
    WiZeR is offline Tuber
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    NW Kent
    Posts
    552

    Default

    we have a petrol strimmer on our site, but i like to use shears to keep the paths down.

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 13
    Last Post: 12-06-2012, 11:35 AM
  2. how should I clear my new plot?
    By hailtryfan in forum Allotment Advice
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 17-10-2010, 08:31 PM
  3. Best Thing To Clear Plot
    By Rhona in forum General chitchat
    Replies: 11
    Last Post: 05-11-2009, 01:48 PM
  4. How far into winter can we clear our plot?
    By moppet_217 in forum New Shoots
    Replies: 12
    Last Post: 03-12-2008, 11:04 PM
  5. How did you clear your plot?
    By Gryfon in forum Allotment Advice
    Replies: 15
    Last Post: 20-02-2007, 01:13 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts