It being neither freezing nor raining I just spent a few hours weeding on my allotment. My plot is very weedy and I was reflecting on that unpalatable fact while I worked.
Apart from brassicas and roots, I don’t have much on the plot at this time of year, so there is a lot of bare ground. I mulched it all with compost in autumn, which affords some protection; I see the weeds as adding a little more to that as well as hanging on to soluble nitrate that would otherwise be leached by rain.
I’m weeding now because I don’t want them to seed and I will be wanting to sow and plant quite soon. The weeds are a mixture, almost all growing from seed. Bittercress has probably seeded from plants on the plot. They flower and set seed all year and start flowering when very small. Epilobium has more likely blown in from the margins and the neighbouring plot.
Some of it has come in with grass mowings of lawns that have seeding weeds in or adjacent to them. There are things that I have naturalised in my garden and have taken up there inadvertently. So there is Viola tricolor, Aquilegia and Corydalis cheilanthifolia. Some I cannot account for at all. Does it matter? Not much. I am retired, I have time to weed them out. They come out easily enough from my no dig beds; less easily from the paths. They go on the heap and will be back in the autumn as top dressing.
It would be nice if you could slice the tops off and leave the roots in the ground, but it’s easier said than done. Satisfying when done, except for the aching back!
It often strikes me as odd that gardening movements like organics or no dig, purporting to take their inspiration from nature, do things quite differently from nature. Not that nature grows vegetables exactly. Non woody growth in a temperate climate would die down in situ and lie on the surface over the winter. It doesn’t get removed elsewhere to be partially decomposed before being brought back. Any bare patches would quickly be filled by vegetation of some sort. I have put quite a lot of fresh material, usually shredded, directly onto the ground in autumn in the belief that there is a component of the soil fauna and flora that has evolved to live on that type of material. It certainly disappears quickly enough.
I sowed beetroot 17 June last year, planted them out 12 August. I thought they would grow to usable size then stand well into the winter. They didn’t grow enough and haven’t grown at all in the winter. Need to get them in earlier. Ditto chard and perpetual spinach. The idea was that they would go in after peas and spuds were finished, but it didn’t really work. Must do better this year. I need more salad veg for winter salads. Perhaps I should invest in some cloches.