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Old 23-02-2005, 10:13 AM
Jim Lesurf
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In article , Kay
In article , Jim Lesurf [email protected] writes

Alas, I wasn't able to start the process until June-July as I didn't
have the time, etc, pre-retirement. I certainly found that one or two
'bombing raids' had little effect, so just went on repeating the raids
every few weeks as chances arose. After a while the ground elder
started to take the hint and turn brown, shrivel, etc.

How long did you wait for repeat applications? Glyphosate is a systemic,
which means it has to be absorbed by the plant's leaves, then starts
acting on its growth, so it's about three weeks before you see any
effect - before that, the plants are apparently growing healthily.

It was typically almost a couple of weeks between applications. And I
repeated this over a few months.

It may be that the turning brown etc was all a result of your first
application after all ;-)

That may well have been true to a large extent. :-) Maybe a lot of my
later applications were simply inflicting gratuitous injury on the dying.
However ground elder being what it is, I feel no compassion for this...

I hope to start a 'new campaign' soon, and then start some digging and
riddling of the areas

Not as bad as it sounds. The roots only go down about a foot, are easy
to recognise once you have your eye in, are not particularly brittle,
and have a pleasant smell.

OK. Now you say that I think I realise what you mean as I noticed a smell
as I broke/tore some of the leaves/stalks at times.

When I first started trying to dig the surface there seemed to be a really
thick 'mat' of entwined roots that was about 2-3 inches thick. Could at
times peel this back, but in many areas it was well rooted into the soil
under it. At one point I was cutting it out in 'carpet squares' and
riddling some soil from it before discarding the roots into a bin.

where I hope to start growing some flowers. My thought at present is
to concentrate on annuals as these (I think) will give quicker initial

Broadly true. Slugs can be a problem with seeds sown in situ.

and I will be less worried later on if they become damaged by fresh
campaigns against the ground elder. Does that make sense?

It gives you a gap in winter when you can do another digging campaign.
But it will be very hard to use glyphosate while the bed is planted, as
its systemic action means that just one leaf sprayed in error can kill
the plant. And come winter the ground elder won't be actively growing,
so the glyphosate won't be effective then.

A friend advised that if I accidentally spray a leaf on a wanted plant to
either simply pull off the leaf, or to rub it with soil. However the main
problem last year was that I often didn't know what I had just sprayed.
:-) So I just took the view that some collatoral damage was unavoidable and
acceptable to help reduce the ground elder prior to future, better
understood, gardening.

Yes, you can brush glyphosate on to individual ground elder leaves, but
is that any easier than digging out roots?

I did buy and try a sort of 'weedkiller rollerball pen'. However I rapidly
decided as you say. That it was more bother than simply digginf out any
individual weeds in places I could not carpet bomb. :-)

However I assume that a snag with ground elder is that one or two leaves
may be attached to quite an extended root system, and so digging up a small
'weed' may leave the roots behind over a wider area. Whereas the
glyphosphate will deal with this more systematically. :-)

| The worst 'snag' has been that raspberries/tayberries (which we
| like) have spread around the garden, and - to my ignorant view -
| their leaves look a lot like the ground elder. I tried to avoid
| 'collateral damage' but I fear this may not have been entirely
| successful. :-/

Enough will live. They are hard to kill.

This must be so. The raspberries we have managed to prosper during our
previous 'benign neglect' regime of 20 years, and gave more fruit that we
could make into jam.

Try looking at stems rather than leaves. Whichever way, you'll
eventually get your eye in. Hand weeding has improved my plant
identification no end!

I have noticed. :-) I seem to have 'discouraged' the ground elder a
bit, and helped clear a bit of space to give new plants a chance. But
there is still ground elder around, so I guess this is an ongoing war.

You'll win eventually.

I hope you are right. I did once say to my wife that I was patent. She fell
about laughing and said, "You're not at all patient. But you are stubborn
and persistent!" :-) I suspect this may be required when dealing with
ground elder...

You do know that there is a variegated form of ground elder which is
sold by garden centres as a garden plant? ;-)

Ivy? :-)

I have done the same.

| We already have a fair number of bluebells. (ahem, Scottish ;- ).


Nope. :-) I have planted some English bluebells as bulbs, but the
ones I was thinking of I just called 'Scottish' as they were here
before we arrived and this is Scotland.

If they have bulbs they are not harebells which we in england sometimes
refer to as 'scottish bluebells' ;-)

Aha! Yes, they do have bulbs...

Beyond that, once they come out I'll have a careful look and check
with a suitable book of pictures. has an interactive guide for
you to check whether you have the english bluebell or the spanish, which
is often sold under the name of 'english'.

Thanks. I'll check the above when I get a chance. :-)

The bluebells were (mostly) in the garden when we bought the house. Hence I
don't know anything about them apart from seeing them come up each year.
That said, since my wife like bluebells I bought some 'english' ones last
year and planted them, so will also look to see if these seem the same when
they flower.

Campanula rotundifolia (English harebell), not Endymion non-scripta
(or whatever it is called now)?

Hyacinthoides non-scripta, according to the Plantlife site.

As yet I'm afraid I haven't got used to any of the latin / scientific /
systematic names. Indeed, I'm still struggling to recognise one plant
from another at all! :-)

The latin/scientific/systematic helps there, as it's based on
relationships and therefore on the similarity of sexual parts, ie the
flowers - once you get to grips with basic flower shapes, you get some
idea of whereabouts a plant might sit, and this makes it much easier to

I can appreciate the value of the systematic names as I have a background
in science - alas nothing to do with biology, botany, or gardening, though.
Hence I've never learned any of the names, or their meanings or information
content. I hope to pick up the 'language' in due course, but the snag is
the obvious one. The sheer range of plants and the complexities of all the

Whereas english names pay no attention at all to relationships, as in
the bluebell example above!

We have a number of 'miracle' plants that have survived the 20 years
since we moved in. Some of them look lovely, but I am not at all sure
*what* they are - apart from being stubborn. :-)

Worth finding out, since they are clearly the things that enjoy your
conditions, and you may find they have relatives that you like which
would also grow well.

At present I am suffering from the 'dictionary problem'. How to check the
spelling of a word by looking it up when you don't know how to spell it.

In this case, how to determine what a given flower/plant may be when you
don't know anything about how they are systematically organised and named
and by what detailed charateristics. I understand the process in principle,
but have almost no idea of the details. :-)

I am currently approaching this in various ways. Buying some magazines and
books and reading them, etc. However one of my plans at present is to ask
on u.r.g. I am hoping that I can take a photo when baffled, put it on a
webpage, then ask people here if they'd mind having a look and letting me
know what I have photographed.

Indeed, I am just about to start a new thread based on using some
pictures... :-) Hope people can help me with it.

At present I am working on the basis that a lot of what I try will fail
due to my ignorance, etc.

That's a great attitude - trying something and watching the results is a
good way to learn.

Yes. I've always found books, etc, useful. But I have also generally found
'try experimenting yourself' and 'ask someone who knows from their own
experience ' work particularly well. My experience of books is that they
often contain mistakes, or things that aren't relevant in a specific case,
or which are not clearly explained. Dealing with this requires the
'interaction' and the experience. I have always learned more from trying
things and discussing them than from books.


Above said, my wife did point out last night that we have a bay window
which faces east in a room we don't use much.

That's a great situation - good light, without the sun to dry things out.

I've wondering if that may be a suitable place in due course for
experimenting with starting seeds, etc, by just leaving them on the
window sill in trays, or whatever. The curtains go across the bay in
line with the wall, so making an area the size of the bay that is
semi-enclosed when the curtains are drawn.

That is a problem - when the curtains are drawn, the temperature inside
the 'greenhouse' will be nearer the outside temperature than to the
temperature of the room.

The bay gets very warm during sunny days, but I suspect you are correct and
it gets cold at night at times. However I could leave a small opening in
the curtains, I guess, to try and even these variations out a little.

So probably not to use yet, but perhaps in
March? And I'd consider starting the seed trays in plastic bags as a
sort of mini-propagator (or look out for clear plastic boxes used as
packaging which could act as lids for the seed tray).

OK. I visited our local 'DIY' a couple of days ago and noticed they have
the trays, etc.

I ordered some packets of seeds (nearly all hardy annuals) a few days ago.
Once they come I'll read the info and decide which ones I might like to
experiment with in the 'window bay greenhouse' and which to put outside
directly at the relevant times.



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