Have I cocked up!

Hi guys,
I have recently moved into a house with quite a large garden containing what can only be described as large weeds and nettles. As well as this there was also a strange sort of grass that was almost hay like which came out of the ground with relative ease. There was also clumps of grass that when pulled came out with lots of roots and soil.
As you can probably tell from my descriptions above I'm not a gardener, and so the next step I took may have been the wrong one. I pulled as any of the weeds out by hand or digging if they were stiff. Most of them came out roots and all but some snapped, I also mowed the rest.
Having read a few threads on here it seems the best thing to have done wou7ld have been to spray some sort of killer whilst they were long. Obviously this option is no longer so I was wondering if there was anything else I could do. I was thinking of digging it all up and pulling out as many weed as poss.
My long term plan is to have one half of the garden turfed and the other half as an allotment.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated
Many Thanks
tref_30
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tref_30


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***Not so fast, pal, on ruling out the killer option. The stuff will probably come up again if there are roots left in the soil. One approach might be (subject to correction from experts) to water, thereby encouraging growth. Then, when there's enuff growth, consider applying Roundup or some other evil agent <g>.
BTW, how large is "large". Metric or English understood. Sounds like it might be large for the plastic option: Cover area with opaque plastic so the sun's heat will bake the hell out of whatever is down there. Of course that's a Southern California option, since we have lots of sun (and little water).
Then again, if the area is REALLY large, and you can handle the expense, have a crew deal with the problem once for all.
so I was wondering if there was

HB
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tref_30;963581 Wrote: > Hi guys,

> what can only be described as large weeds and nettles. As well as this > there was also a strange sort of grass that was almost hay like which > came out of the ground with relative ease. There was also clumps of > grass that when pulled came out with lots of roots and soil.

> and so the next step I took may have been the wrong one. I pulled as any > of the weeds out by hand or digging if they were stiff. Most of them > came out roots and all but some snapped, I also mowed the rest.

> wou7ld have been to spray some sort of killer whilst they were long. > Obviously this option is no longer so I was wondering if there was > anything else I could do. I was thinking of digging it all up and > pulling out as many weed as poss.

> half as an allotment.

Things like nettles aren't reliably killed by a single application of general systemic weedkiller in midsummer anyway, though an application in late summer is more effective. So dig out any major roots, then let things regrow a bit, and then weedkill them in late summer. It might then be wise to wait till spring before doing anything and see what reappears, in case you need to do it again. You don't really want to lay a lawn until you are really sure you are rid of any nasties, because once they are growing in a lawn they get trickier to get rid of without damaging the lawn. Vegetable plot less of an issue, 'cos you can still dig the roots out.
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Hi tref_30,
I can definitely understand your plight. That sounds like you have quite a task ahead of you. I would greatly suggest Weed B Gone by Ortho. It works great and it is pet safe.

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I'm going to suggest this book for you, also: (Amazon.com product link shortened)
Why? It's not because I'm an organic gardener (I'm not, I garden on the LISA model, low input sustainable agriculture), but because it has excellent introductory chapters on soils, on soil fertility, on water and climate, and on managing weeds, as well as solid information on preparing a site for flower or vegetable gardens, trees or lawn, and then growing what you want. If you take the time to read the initial chapters and work through a basic soil analysis (at least a shake test!) and do the soil preparation and think through what you want to plant where and why, you'll have a garden that will look good for many years to come with a whole lot less work and expense later.
You can't really screw up anything badly with the methods in this book. That's another reason I like it for people who can only identify a rake 2 out of 3 times. <g>
What you've done at the moment is set the weeds back a fair bit. But we still don't know what you've got, or whether it's annual or perennial. Annual weeds can be controlled pretty easily with pulling or hoeing; perennial weeds like johnsongrass (unlikely in England!) or yellow nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus) can spread by underground plant fragments -- pull a yellow nutsedge plant and you've gotten rid of one plant and started 50 more growing.
The real secret to weed control is to keep the soil covered with plants you do want -- "canopy closure" in farming terms. If there's bare soil, light and water, you're going to have weeds.
So here are your choices that I see at this time:
1) Wait till the weeds are growing well and nuke them with a non-specific herbicide like glyphosate (Roundup). Since you've got a mixed bunch of species,you'll probably have to repeat it several times over the course of months.
2) Use a light occlusive mulch to smother the weeds for several months. Mow as close as possible, then cover the soil with corrugated cardboard, old carpet, or 15-30 thicknesses of newspaper or 6" of wood chips. Wait a few months. Pull the mulch off, add some water and sunlight for a couple of weeks to get things that survived growing again, and either dig, re-mulch or nuke with herbicide. (This would be my choice... and I might consider using a painted-on glyphosate application for certain very difficult to control weeds, but I don't like wholesale spraying (commonly known as "spray and pray".) This approach takes several months to work, bringing you to the fall, which is a good time to plant cool season grasses like Kentucky bluegrass or most of the fescues. If you've used cardboard or newspaper, you can till that into the soil. If you used wool carpet or wood chips, you can compost it and apply it later.
3) Go ahead and till now, raking up all vegetation as it comes up. This is the hot part of the summer, and a lot of work, but if you need to get your frustrations out, it might be a viable choice. You'll need to do some major weed control later, most likely. Plant a cover crop of some sort, like buckwheat, to help suppress weed growth until you're ready to plant the entire garden and lawn.
When you've got the weeds under control, chosen the lawn grass you want, gotten the soil tested and decided how you're going to amend it (if at all), then you're ready to plant. It's the least work to plant seeds (or sod) when the conditions are best for that species to grow, and you'll get a lot fewer weeds poking through the plants you want.
The key to having a nice looking garden or lawn that doesn't drive you nuts with work and expense is to choose species that will do well under your conditions. For instance, if you have kids or dogs, you're going to want a sports-type turfgrass, not something fit for a putting green or a dainty little moss garden -- you'd be constantly trying to repair the last two. The more effort you put into it before you plant, the less effort you're going to need to put into it in the long haul.
In the US, we have an organization in most states called "Master Gardeners", who are volunteers that are trained in a variety of gardening techniques and knowledgeable about most common aspects of gardening (and sometimes some really esoteric stuff, too.) These people are available for consultation on a variety of gardening problems. You might try to find out if there's a similar network in the UK. Otherwise, hunt out the best garden centers you can find and ask for advice and for help identifying your weeds. Or hire someone knowledgeable on local conditions to help you figure out a plan of attack that suits both the available energy and cash you can apply to this set of problems.
Kay
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Maybe you could explain this, or recommend a site for a fuller explanation. The best I've been able to find so far is "the concepts of LISA range from organic farming at one end of the spectrum to maximum economic returns on the other." <http://www.soil.ncsu.edu/publications/Soilfacts/AG-439-07_Archived/
You'll have to admit that's a fairly loose definition. Most of the older definitions I found look a lot like "organic gardening".
I suppose you could be doing ornamental gardening, then you could include, "Maximizing the use of locally available plants and tree species".
It is comforting that even as you say you eschew organic gardening per se, you recommend an organic gardening book for guidance.
I fear I'm becoming even more confused.

Seems this could be addressed by mulch as well in Tref's allotment portion.

The above is the method that I use for kitchen gardening, but I never uncover the soil, unless I'm broadcasting seeds. Otherwise, I use a dweeble to punch holes in the mulch to put my seedlings into. My initial layer is news print. and I wait 6 weeks for the paper to breakdown a bit, because it will initially direct water away from where you want it.

I don't want to be a pest myself, but could you mention what weeds might be of a magnitude of heartiness to require glyphosate?

Do you recommend an initial vegetable garden tilling, or an annual garden tilling?

Or to give your ticky ticker that final shove it needs to go over the edge.

Vegetable gardens (allotments) can be easy. Lawns, no so much.
Gaia's Garden, Second Edition: A Guide To Home-Scale Permaculture by Toby Hemenway <(Amazon.com product link shortened) 3580298/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid71266976&sr=1-1>
p.26 Our love of tidy, but not very diverse yards is imprinted on us by our culture. The immaculate lawn, under siege from ecological writers every- where, developed in the mild and evenly moist climate of Great Britain. Its implications are deeply woven into our psyche. A lawn in preindustrial times trumpeted to all that the owner possessed enough wealth to use some land for sheer orna- ment, instead of planting all of it to food crops. And close-mowed grass proclaimed affluence, too: a herd of sheep large enough to crop the lawn uniformly short. These indicators of status whis- per to us down the centuries. By consciously recog- nizing the influence of this history, we can free ourselves of it and let go of the reflexive impulse to roll sod over the entire landscape.
Our addiction to impeccable lawns and soldier rows of vegetables and flowers is counter to the tendency of nature and guarantees us constant WORK. But we don't need to wield trowel, and herbi- cide with resentment in an eternal war against the exuberant appetite of chicory and wild lettuce for fresh-bared soil. Instead we can create conditions that encourage the plants we want and let nature do the work.

Or as "The Cook" keeps telling us <http://www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension/index.html > You might try to find out if there's a

Tref_30, you may want to give <
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxsPfeSRIFo&feature=relmfu
a look as well. I think it would fit Kay's definition of LISA gardening, if not, I expect I'll be hearing about it ;O)
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dibble (dbl) n. A pointed gardening implement used to make holes in soil, especially for planting bulbs or seedlings. tr.v. dibbled, dibbling, dibbles 1. To make holes in (soil) with a pointed implement. 2. To plant by means of a pointed implement.

I have 2 seasons, and it doesn't matter when I prep the beds.

My habit is alfalfa, in part because of it's nitrogen content.

I've never had that much stress. I dug holes for fence posts in clay soil with stones, but fortunately it was a long time ago.

Kein problem, es gibt nur ein. I love it, but this would never pass for a lawn in most housing tracts. Fortunately, I don't live in a housing tract.

A depressing analogy, but the trees are a little more lively and gay (in the traditional sense of the word). Take the Tuileries for example.

England has these putative firebreaks in spite of its rains. Topanga canyon I could see.

Every 4 years, I have tomatoes over our leach field, very healthy looking tomatoes, but the soil never gets damp from the leach field.

I'd be down with a Rasenstck. I don't need a golf course, or to impress the neighbors.

Thanks for your time.
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wrote:

And probably worm free as well with the entire ecology disrupted. This kind of "terracide" may be OK for trophy, grass lawns, but it will cost you on inputs for vegetable gardens (allotments) as it will accelerate the decomposition of the organic material in the soil. This will lock you into a continuing pattern of rototilling, and destroying a healthy soil environment, so that you can incorporate more organic material into it.
Deep tilling doesn't apply to hoeing a row or using a pitchfork to turn over the first few inches of soil. Nor does it apply to tilling in, say, prairie sod to establish a new garden. Deep tilling means repeatedly cutting up soil with a roto-tiller.
You see, soil is alive. In fact, it's like the New York City of the plant world -- a complex mix of fine rock particles, organic matter, water, air, microorganisms and other small critters. In fact, healthy soil is chock-a-block FULL of living things such as plant roots, animals, insects, bacteria, fungi and other organisms. It's a jungle down there.
"Managing your soils to keep this living system thriving can make the difference between gardening success and failure," says Rodale's Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening.
Soil is more than dirt. In fact, it's 50 percent minerals and 50 percent water and air. Half of soil is minerals, and the rest is water and air. The spaces between the minerals (made of tiny rock fragments) are the holding areas for soil water and air, the super highways by which nutrients travel and connect everything in the soil.
Ideal soil is friable, which means the various particles form little clusters with air pockets between them.
To get good soil you can choose from numerous gardening practices that support healthy soil. For example: + Raised beds + Topping with mulch (easy) + Turning compost in the top 4 to 6 inches (hard work, ugh)
On the flip side, here are some things that actually harm soil structure: + Walking on the soil + Using chemical fertilizers (they kill friendly organisms and acidify the soil over time) + Deep tilling or roto-tilling
"Roto-tilling destroys the network of fungal hyphae that gives soil structure," he explained." This includes the mychorrhizal network that is so important to plants."
Mycorrhizal (MY-coh-RIZE-ul) fungi are multi-celled organisms that form special "I'll scratch your back if you'll scratch mine" relationships with plant roots. As recent electron microscope images have shown, these organisms develop into long chains called hyphae (HIGH-fee) and get energy from the plant and help supply nutrients to the plant. In other words, they depend on each other for survival. They actually move nutrients around the garden to where they are needed.
Roto-tilling dislocates and chops up small invertebrate animals (such as insects, worms and spiders), and bacteria, and it kills worms and destroys aeration and drainage. "The soil looks nice and smooth, but it quickly looses structure.
Control weeds with mulches, in the case of annuals and vegetables, green mulches and in the case of perennials, shrubs and trees, brown mulches." "All plants--grass, trees, shrubs, agricultural crops--depend on the food web for their nutrition."----Soil and Water Conservation Society
The idea is to avoid compacting and deep-tilling the soil, which harms the structure. It would be trying to survive after tearing down the walls of houses, damaging the streets and other transportation networks, destroying water lines and other utilities, and limiting access to food. Living would be tough. Some people would get sick and die. Plus, it would take a long time to rebuild.
Supporting soil structure "is just good science. "Roto-tilling is definitely, out. The only time it is acceptable is when you want to plant vegetables and annuals in areas just claimed from forests. You want to increase the bacterial dominance and rototilling does that. The fungal structure will return if organic fertilizers are used."
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