So why not run to the chemicals? There are many brands available, often advertised on the television, assuring you that their special blend will kill all your weeds from the ground up, never to be worried about again. The problem is that many of these chemicals may also harm the local wildlife, your dog, your family and all the other plants in your garden if not used correctly. On a professional level, to use these chemicals to the best effect, full body protection is required as well as rigorous training with exam-style assessments to ensure a user is competent. By the time these chemicals are made to a level the general public can use, they are heavily diluted, resulting in some plants developing resistance to the poisons. This is particularly impactful when weeds cannot be eradicated on farms and in orchards, where the success of the crops is vital for the growers’ livelihoods and ability to feed the nation.
It’s worth considering alternatives to chemicals before using them as a last resort. Ask yourself beforehand: is there a particular plant that requires chemical treatment? Have you tried digging it up first? The love of our gardens should also include the love of the soil and chemicals can leave trace elements that are damaging to the soil microorganisms too. Hand weeding can be so therapeutic, and the feeling of accomplishment when looking back on a freshly weeded border can bring as much joy as the sight of a flowering rose or the ambers of an autumn acer.
Whilst we don’t want weeds popping up in our growing areas, there are occasionally times where we can use them to our benefit. I will look at this in next week’s blog and discuss some ways that we can incorporate weeds into our garden.