AT A TIME WHEN garden weedkillers such as glyphosate (Roundup) are under increasing scrutiny over their environmental safety (its residues are found regularly in our pee and in our bread), and as we learn that less tended, scruffy and ‘weedy’ gardens and forgotten corners offer many wildlife benefits, Weeds is a timely, hands-on guide to tackling unwanted plants in non-polluting ways that are gentler on our natural world.
My book is also about understanding the sheer tenacity of weeds, about their determination to survive, and about how you can turn them into allies in your garden or allotment.
Know your weeds
But to really know your weeds, you first need to be able to identify them. Weeds is illustrated with over 100 full colour photographs, 60 of which are pictures of a diverse cross section of weeds you might encounter on your own patch.
Each weed entry, which is arranged alphabetically by its common name, also gives the weed’s typical life cycle (annual, biennial or perennial). There’s information on when and where each weed might pose a problem, its size, how it spreads, what benefits it has for wildlife – and even whether you can add it to a summer salad. Then, naturally, there are earth-friendly solutions for dealing with each weed.
Green, amber or red?
You will also see that this section of Weeds – the biggest in the book – is pretty colourful, with the name of each weed highlighted in green, amber or red. This shows you, at a glance, how easy, difficult or urgent dealing with each weed is.
On this sample page (right) groundsel, an annual weed, is highlighted in green, showing that keeping it in check is dead easy – just pull it up and compost it.
Although it’s an an easy-to-pull-up annual weed, hairy bittercress is flagged in red, because just one plant, after flowering and producing its explosive, elongated seed-scattering pods, can infest an entire garden. Despite its redeeming quality of being edible, this weed requires urgent attention wherever and whenever you spot it.
Weeds highlighted in amber are moderately easy to bring under control. The life cycle of each weed is highlighted in blue (weed life cycles are explained elsewhere in the book).
So that’s how the weed directory section works. Clever, eh?
• Read this extract explaining the ethos behind Weeds.