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Name: Lucy Garden
Question: thanks for the great advice as always, Sue. I'd welcome your advice on tackling a new allotment. It's completely overgrown with brambles, horseradish and couch! It'd take me years to dig it all over the hard way - are there any shortcuts?
Answer: Hi Lucy, how lovely to have a new allotment - there are a few things you can try to eradicate the weeds. The easiest organic method of control would be to cut back all the weeds before laying down a thick cover over the whole area, such as black plastic, weed membrane or cardboard. Without light the plants will eventually starve, although it will take many months to weaken tough weeds such as brambles. Weed membrane can be left on for as long as needed whereas black polythene doesn't let air or water through so is best taken off after a few months to let the soil breathe. Once the situation is under control, regular hand-weeding or hoeing should help keep the plot clear. If you don’t mind using chemicals then try using strong weed killers which contain triclopyr or glyphosate such as SBK Brushwood Killer or Scotts Tumbleweed. Cut back all growth to 20-30cm (8-12”) from the ground and apply the weed killer to the freshly cut stems. I hope this helps Lucy, best of luck with your new allotment.
Name: Lesley Gilbert
Question: Hi my raspberry cane area on my allotment is heavily overgrown with tough grass and weeds. Is it best to dig up and transplant my canes to tackle this problem? Thank you
Answer: Hi Lesley, digging up your raspberry plants would certainly be the quickest way to tackle the problem, if the grasses are growing at the base of your plants. This should ideally be carried out between now and November. Spreading grasses such as couch grass are very difficult to eradicate and by digging up your raspberries you can carefully pick out any weeds entwined with the raspberry roots. Make sure you remove the weed roots thoroughly as they can quickly regenerate from these. Regular hoeing in future will keep weed growth in check. Alternatively you could use a systemic weed killer containing glyphosate, such as Scotts Tumbleweed although these weed killers are not selective so will kill your raspberries too if allowed to get on the leaves and stems. Use a cover while spraying the weeds to prevent spray drifting on to your raspberry plants. Alternatively you can buy spot weed killers which are applied as a gel to the leaves. I hope this helps Lesley, with a bit of persistence you should be able to keep on top of this problem.