The truth about... Weeding
Sunday 31 May 1998
Buttercups and dandelions and such, however, are positively benign compared to the real nasties: bindweed, ground elder, creeping thistle, Japanese knotweed, giant hogweed, horsetail and the like. Brutes like this can sink roots six or seven feet into the soil, which makes a teaspoon or indeed a trowel, spade or industrial digger seem a rather pathetic weapon against them. And some of them, when attacked, fight back: the sap of the giant hogweed causes severe blistering. Any of these lurking in the herbaceous borders means a real slash-and-burn-and-poison fest. To make a completely clean start, cover the offending area with old carpet or heavy-duty black plastic and leave it for a year or two. This looks horrendous, though in its favour it is certainly low maintenance. Alternatively, give up and move house.
Should a mysterious plant appear that stands around five feet tall, with a long tendril coiled in a cup, strange stems that make an odd clicking sound, and a tendency not to be in the same place every day, do not attempt to haul it out. Call the police, fire-brigade and army: it is a triffid.
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