Making Use of Weeds in July

Garden bed gone wildNow there’s an inspiring photo – a weedy garden bed!

Yes, a few of my beds have gone feral. There is an upside to this. There within my wild looking garden are the beginnings of a new spring bed or the rejeuvenation of an old one. Those weeds are a pile of nourishment awaiting construction.

The hardest bit is getting the weeds out. After that its plain sailing. Simply layer your weeds up in a pile on the site of your bed to be (don’t dig out the grass – it’ll die under the pile) Add other delicious things like manure, rotten hay, grass clippings, seaweed, garden soil etc. Make your pile at least a metre high. Taller and narrower and it will cook up a storm, short and wide and it’ll be a bit of a flop I’m afraid. Cover with something to retain the heat – sacks, hay, dirt (make like a hangi) and voila, come spring you’ll have a lovely new bed (or perked up old bed).

It’s one thing to clean out a wild, weedy bed;  but to have to clean one out while trying to retain a crop is another story altogether. It’s such an easy job to weed around a crop when weeds are small. Take your hoe or long handled straker and scratch up those weedlets. No struggle, no time, no sweat.  The crops that really matter at the moment are newly sprouted garlic and onions (mature root crops and brassicas, well they can take a bit of competition.) Garlic will punish you if you neglect to keep it weedfree, it’ll be small. And if the competition is fierce, perhaps as small as the single clove they were when you planted them.

Other missions you could attend to if so inspired are:

Divide herbs and perennials and spread them far and wide throughout your garden.

Go through your seed stocks and make sure you have plenty of greencrops, flowers and spring crops because next month we get back into seed sowing

Prune roses and fruit trees

Plant horseradish, rhubarb, globe artichokes, asparagus and berries

Load up on manure and seaweed while there’s nothing much else happening.

chooks-in-the-greenhouse-having-a-bali-winter-break.jpgGive the greenhouse a scrub out. I would say this is essential rather than optional if you want to be using the greenhouse next month. Clean all the plastic or glass. Get your chooks in to weed and feed it (and if you don’t have chooks then hard luck that’s your job.) Hydrate the poor dry stuff in there that you call soil and pile up compost, mulch, weeds – whatever organic matter you have to hand – to best suit the thing you are planting next. Have you thought this through? If you already have a plan in place then pat yourself on the back you food gardener you.





  1. Patricia Sarr says:

    Onion weed, oh onion weed. I carefully dig out as much soil/rootlets as possible, but I’m to the point of taking out ALL the soil in my strawberry bed and starting over! Any suggestions?

    • Dear Patricia,

      I feel your pain! If it were my strawberry patch I’d get all the strawberries out, shake their roots clean to make sure no onions came along for the ride and replant them elsewhere this year while I focussed on getting rid of those onions. By watering and feeding your crop of strawb’s you are boosting the onion weed as well.

      Begin by digging out as many clumps as you can. Don’t shake the dirt back into the bed or you’ll send bulbs back from whence they came! Then….

      Wait for the next lot of onions to sprout and cover the area in black polythene. Leave over summer for the bulbs to fry and die, OR

      I’ve also had success with deep mulching – lay newspaper thickly on top (after digging out as much as onion as poss) and cover this with what I call biscuits of hay (you know the slices of hay as the bale comes apart). As they sprout through the hay they’ll be really weak and spindly just lay another lot of newspaper and hay biscuit on top, or move the hay off breaking the tops off, and cover it again. Keep doing this and eventually the onions become exhausted.

      Hope this helps, and happy weeding (if it makes you feel any better everyone has a horrid weed in their closet!)

  2. Caroline Blewitt says:

    Any other gardeners ( organc only ) who wish to chat, swop plants , seeds, hints?
    In Northland climate change is keeping all “bugs” alive all year long, the Australian Guava moth is the worst; kept it at bay last rar by using Rubarb leaf spray, but ran out of leaves and it now is in all my fruit, heartbreaking……..

    • Hi Caroline

      Sorry to say I’ve never had to deal with the guava moth – not a pest we get in Levin. To beat a pest at its game you need to understand it’s life cycle first. Where does it over winter? (if like codling moth it’s beneath host trees then perhaps chooks will help) I wonder does Neem help – as a mating disruptor it makes for pretty powerful pest control. You can also get Neem in granules to add to the soil when you have an out of control problem.

      A gardener closer to home will be able to help you with this better than I. Perhaps a move further south is on the cards…..

      best Kath