The task of weeding can get you down if you let it. Weeds seem to grow up as fast as you can cut them down. Weeding is often described like some kind of warfare, aiming to ‘beat the weeds’ or even ‘win the war on weeds’.
Gardening is not war. Weeding is not a battle. Limited, thoughtful, targeted weeding is perfectly sufficient. There’s absolutely no need for any garden to be totally weed-free.
I only remove weeds when:
• They are obviously starving cultivated plants of space, light and nourishment.
• They are providing a habitat for slugs very close to young seedlings.
• I’m getting creative with the visual effect of plants and the weeds don’t look right. Sometimes they look just as lovely as cultivated plants, in which case I leave them alone.
• I’m harvesting the weeds. Many can be eaten. Comfrey and nettles make compost and plant feed.
• A particular weed, often dandelion, dock, cow parsley, nettles, giant hogweed or burdock, is getting so profuse I want to slow it down before the garden contains nothing else. In this case, I wait until the weeds are flowering and cut all the tops off before they go to seed. With dandelions, all the flowers can be picked off and made into wine – an added bonus.
I never bother removing weeds for no reason. Just because I didn’t plant something, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be allowed to live. Gardening is not war, but management. Good management involves respect and thoughtfulness.