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Help me with digging up a flower/weed bed to make way for my vegetable plot!

Hi all, I'm a newbie (so apologies for long post and enormous pictures)!  Could I have some advice on digging over our overgrown “flower bed” to put in some raised beds to grow vegetables?  I could do with some pointers on if I am going about this the right way….

As on the photo, from left the right: the flower bed has a green plant that I can’t identify at the top end, then an area I have started digging, a carpet of forget-me-nots, dandelions, some herbs and spiky plants hidden within and (bluebells/white bluebells?) at the end.

So I have started digging an area with a garden fork but am coming across this green plant that has a stringy root that is quite deep seated, I am worried the digging is breaking the root up more and may stimulate more growth, so should I stop digging and use a weedkiller on the leaves and dig that when it has died off?

There are lots of forget-me-nots which I find pretty so I have transplanted some to the other parts of the garden, then I suddenly wondered if I was doing the right thing as there seems to be a carpet of these and am now worried that they are too intrusive.  They are the type with rounded leaves and shallow roots so maybe I can just pull them if they get too greedy.

I have a sparse border out front and was thinking of transporting some forget-me-nots into there and also the (bluebells / white bells) at the end of the bed, but can these be invasive too?  I don’t want to spread problems around the rest of the garden.

Can anybody advise on what this green plant is and how best to dig it out?

Should I  transplant the forget-me-nots / bluebells or bin them?

Thank you



  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 5,938
    edited April 2019
    It's a bit difficult to tell from the photo,  but l am guessing that your bluebells are the Spanish type? Speaking as someone who spent most of yesterday morning digging the things out, l would say get rid of them (unles you really love them of course, it's your garden !) .
    Forget me nots the same, you can move them to another part of the garden if you like them, they self seed easily, but are easy to pull out ( unlike the bluebells !) .
    Can't advise re the weed though, but l am positive someone will know.  :)
  • SkandiSkandi Northern DenmarkPosts: 726
    I'm afraid that weed is ground elder, you can dig it out and sieve the soil if you have a small ish areabut you will miss some roots and it will come back from even the tiniest piece. If you keep at digging up each bit that reappears it will die.
    If you are putting raised beds there you could use a weed membrane under them and that should stop it invading the beds (I have not tried that method)
    Or you could (and I would and do) is roundup it, it can take a couple of times to totally kill it that way but it does work.
    Whichever way you go keep on top of any regrowth, but don't expect to irradiate it from the garden unless you are very very diligent!
    As a little addition, it is edible although not to my taste.

    As to the forgetmenots, pull them up of they get in the way otherwise they are not a problem.
  • NanabooNanaboo Posts: 1,057
    edited April 2019

    Della84,  that was me last year I dug out what I could cut the rest to ground level then covered the lot in cardboard and weighed it down with bricks. Cardboard, winter rain, frost worms have done it more or less for me This year the cardboard is starting to fall to bits and only a few weeds here and there which I have dug out, it just needs turning over. Was I just luck it worked for me I don't know but others will be able to advise you better. I agree with AnniD unless you really love the Spanish Bluebells then get rid I have almost filled a green wheely bin with the and take a lot more to the tip.
  • NanabooNanaboo Posts: 1,057

    Muddle-Up you most likely right just come in from digging a row nothing down there. I put salt on some brambles in another corner and they've gone but they are still in the veg patch.
  • Della84Della84 Posts: 17
    Thank you all for your advice...
    Yes it does have roots coming under the fence but whether it is me to them or them to me, I don't know. 
    Unfortunately I have already dug the area where they are prevalent and the roots are snapping all over the place so I think my next steps are:
    Just gently dig out the rest not going too deep
    Bin the rest of the plants unless special
    Level the plot
    put a membrane down and put the raised beds on top of the membrane & I was going to put some left over house bricks around the beds as a walkway.
    Then prowl around with the weed killer and spray the green GE shoots when they appear.
    I will let you know how I get on.  Thank you.

  • SmudgeriiSmudgerii Posts: 148
    Spray the whole area with ammonium sulphamate then cover with a few layers of cardboard.  You can then build your raised beds over the cardboard and fill them with manure/compost mix.
  • punkdocpunkdoc Sheffield, Derbyshire border.Posts: 7,952
    Ammonium sulphamate, is a very dangerous substance to use as a weedkiller and is banned for such purpose in the EU and UK.
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  • SmudgeriiSmudgerii Posts: 148
    punkdoc said:
    Ammonium sulphamate, is a very dangerous substance to use as a weedkiller and is banned for such purpose in the EU and UK.
    Dangerous in what way?  All the info I’ve seen puts glyphosate into a much more dangerous category.  If dangerous why is it sold as a compost acellerstor? A fire retardent? etc. etc. 

    i’m told the ban relates to an unwillingness to pay for the licence that the EU require to allow it’s use as a herbicide.
  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 2,041
    If you want to keep some forget-me-nots without risk of transplanting ground elder, wait a few weeks until they go to seed and then pull some up and shake them over the area where you want them next year.  They are prolific self-seeders but it's easy to pull out any that come up where you don't want them.  Alternatively buy a packet of seed and sow direct around June. 
    I'd get rid of the spanish bluebells - they spread like fury and are hard to dig up completely, particularly if they get into the roots of other plants.  You'll probably miss some little bulbs and they'll be back next year coming up in or around your raised beds, so if you're weedkillering ground elder then, you might as well do the bluebells too.

  • Della84Della84 Posts: 17

    Hi I just wanted to update you on the veg plots/ground elder and thank you for all your help.

    I had already started digging out the ground elder with the other plants before I posted on here.  I had transplanted some of the plants to the rest of the garden and therefore did spread the GE around.  When I have seen it pop up in the other areas, I have dug out the whole plant and GE and either binned it or potted it for observation – luckily the soil was still crumbly and I was able to take out the whole unit.  As you can see in my picture, I did start rinsing off bulbs but these may be the Spanish bluebells so I might just bin them too.

    I don’t think digging the plot helped, even carefully with a trowel the roots snapped like beansprouts and although I got about 6 buckets worth of roots, the new shoots seem to come up doubly and I don’t know if the GE can grow from the "beansprout" root or the fine root hairs so I may have made matters worse, besides which my back was protesting about giving it a second and third dig so I decided to cover it. 

    In the end I put a layer of cardboard on top of the affected area and a double layer of weed suppressant cloth.  I am waiting for some stone chippings to go on top to increase the weight and darkness.  The GE is popping up around the laurel hedge and to the sides but I have been attacking it with glyphosate and after a chat with the neighbour, they are doing the same on their side. 

    In the mean time we have put in some raised beds with newly delivered soil and have some courgettes and peas out, so things are looking a bit more hopeful and organised.  Thanks for all your advice, without it I would have unwittingly planted it throughout the garden!

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