When the novice gardener first takes over an allotment plot the initial enthusiasm is often lost because of the sheer difficulty of keeping down the weeds. A weed is any plant that is growing in the wrong place. There are may techniques and tricks available to an experienced gardener and this article discusses these for the sake of the tyro.
Hoeing and Hand-weeding
Regular hoeing and hand weeding can control most weeds. Hoeing is a very effective method of dealing with annual weeds.
You should hoe as soon as you see the weeds surfacing above the soil.
Push your hoe just below the soil level to sever the weeds. Try to hoe when the ground is dry so weed seeds if brought to the surface won't germinate.
The most popular type of hoe in the UK is the dutch hoe, above, but in many other parts of the world the adze is the most common weeding tool, and the draw hoe is often used for lifting weeds as well as drawing-up soil, such as when creating a potato ridge.
Perennial weeds are best dug up, as they are difficult to control by other methods.
Perennial weeds tend to spread by their creeping stems or roots and fragments of root. So make sure you dig up all roots, leave one little slice of root and your weed will be back.
The best tool for this is a fork, which is less inclined to sever bits of the root than a spade or hand trowel.
Planting ground covering plants is one way of cutting down the amount of weeding. But before planting, all perennial weeds need to be removed. Remember having ground cover doesn't mean you will always have a weed free area, but it will be easier to maintain
Mulching can suppress annual weeds and conserves soil moisture. The perennial weeds will still come through the mulch, so need to be dug out by the roots. You can use well rotted, composted grass cuttings as long as the lawn they came from is weed free. Also use de-composed wood chippings and coconut shells.