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My veg patch is very wet at present but weeds are growing in it at speed (despite freezing temperatures in south west England). I understand I should avoid treading on saturated soil or digging it but I'm dismayed to see the weeds taking over (three years ago the veg patch was a field). Some of the weed is buttercup which I really want to try and get rid of but I'm not sure what the other weeds are. Should I just wait and dig the weeds in (apart from the buttercup) when the soil dries a bit? Alternatively, does covering the soil with black plastic actually kill the weeds? Given how much weeding I did last summer I'm surprised how many weeds I have now. I did add home made compost to the soil last year and horse manure the year before, so have I been inadvertently adding weed seeds to my soil???


  • Bare soil is always open to the invasion of weeds I have sown green manure which will give the weeds some competition and then be dug in before the growing season starts. It just isn't the case that we can remove weeds and they will never return, it is an ongoing task but as you say don't walk on the wet soil just wait until it drys up before removing the weeds again.

  • I'd use a sharp Dutch hoe and slide it energetically under the weeds to cut through their roots and then use a rake to gather the weeds together and dispose of them. 

    Do it on a dryish day and stand on a plank and you won't damage the structure of the soil.


    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • Ive always been told that any soil thats been allowed to have weeds go to seed on it will need 7 years weeding to get rid of!

    Listen, its not the end of the world, now your soil is in better nick, the weeds will come out much easier than when you too the plot over, one day of digging will knock it back into shape, then just keep on top of it like Dove says.

    Black plastic or cardboard etc is good, but best placed on freshly weeded soil, buttercups etc will need a ling time under black plastic to kill em image

    Green manures are a good way of covering your soil, but wont totally stop the weeds, possibly best used a couple of growing seasons in when you are more on top of things, at the moment you are still playing catch up from when the plot was vacant.

    Is your allotment divided up? Its such an easy way to look after the plot, mark out beds, usually 8ft by 4ft, but really whatevers easiest, you can make a path around them with ANYTHING, even cardboard to start off with, that way you should be able to reach all of each bed to weed etc without trampling allover image

    Dont be disheartened, each year the nasty weeds will get less image
  • I have to admit, i never have the heart to dig them in, i always leave the one i use to flower, then compost the leftovers image, ive notived it has to be sown very thickly to help against weeds image

    I would think its too scruffy looking for you Verdun image
  • Blue OnionBlue Onion Posts: 2,947

    Obviously too late now, but consider mulching for next year.  I like to put my beds 'to sleep' each fall.  I cover over the soil with newspaper and a thick mix of mown leaves/grass clippings to hold the newspaper down.  In the spring I just push the bit off to the side where I want to plant.  If you a tilling sort of person, everything could just be tilled into the soil again.  If you don't have many grass clippings, use some straw (not hay, too many seeds). 

    Utah, USA.
  • I've never really seen the point in covering the soil with cardboard, plastic, carpets etc over the winter as some people recommend.  If the weed seeds are in the soil and they don't germinate in mild spells over the winter then they'll germinate in the spring after the covering is removed, probably about the time that you're sowing or planting, and the germinating weeds will have to be removed from amongst the rows of plants - a much more fiddly and tedious task than just hoeing and raking or picking up all over the plot at the end of winter to remove the weeds.

    The only time I'd cover bare soil like that is if there is a stand of thistles, willow herb or similar nearby and their windblown seeds are likely to land on my plot.


    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

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