As GardenSIte's plant specialist I always keenly anticipate the HTA National Plant Show. This is my chance to visit nurseries, find out what's trending in the horticultural world and source new stock, all from under one roof.
For Nathan James Dodd eradicating garden weeds seems like an endless task, but a necessary one that needs to be done in the most efficient way with least harm to the environment.
We regularly provide advice on this subject and here are your most frequently asked questions:
After applying systemic weedkiller to the plant's leaves, it travels through the plant and into the roots. Although slower to take effect than contact weedkillers, a systemic weedkiller works by restricting the plant's ability to transport water and nutrients until the plant dies.
Contact weedkillers only kill the parts of the plant they come into contact with, ie the leaves and stem above ground level. You may have to re-apply several times, as the weedkiller won't penetrate the plant's roots.
Systemic weedkillers will kill most weeds but are best used to eliminate perennial weeds with long roots such as dandelions. Contact weedkillers are excellent to deal with annual weeds.
Selective weedkillers are formulated to kill only particular weeds, mostly broadleaf which are often shaped like rosettes and found in lawns.
These are also called 'broad spectrum' herbicides and kill practically every plant they come into contact with.
Selective weedkillers are most useful on lawns as they will kill broadleaf weeds but do not affect the grass. Use non-selective weedkillers on large areas that need to be cleared, drives and paths.
Until recently commercially produced organic weedkillers have been thin on the ground. DIY weedkillers such as distilled vinegar with a high acid content is a non-selective contact herbicide that will kill small sized annual weeds and perennial seedlings. Rock salt can be used to dehydrate the leaves and roots of a plant but it's residual i.e. will remain in the soil and this isn't a good idea if used where you intend to plant in the future. So it's best on paths, block paving or similar only.
Weed Control Fabric suppresses weed growth but allows water and nutrients to pass through and we are now beginning to see new products on the market from well known companies that can be classed as organic. Bayer has introduced a 'Natria' range that includes a Super Fast Weedkiller that uses fatty acids to disrupt the cellular structure of the plant, causing them to dehydrate and die. It's ideal for eradicating annual weeds and can be used around vegetables.
With multi-national companies now entering the market with their financial and research muscle, there's no doubt that better and more effective 'natural' weedkillers will be introduced. Time will tell whether they are proven to be effective and if the organic market is large enough to sustain a large range of such products.
Nathan James Dodd
With gardens becoming smaller, neighbours closer and roads busier, we all suffer from different types of noise pollution. But, as Andy Taylor reports, Forest have now come up with a new kind of fencing that minimizes this nuisance.
Although gardening activity in February may not be so frenetic as during the summer months, there's still plenty to be done and Spring is just around the corner. Nathan James Dodd suggests the jobs you should be tackling in the garden this month.
Dan Everton helps you look after your pond during the February with some tips on the precautions you can take to avoid the water freezing over, and advice on keeping fish at this time of the year.
Heating will be a deciding factor on the variety of plants you are able to grow in a greenhouse and the number of plants that can be kept over winter. Here, Robert Hall goes through the pros and cons of the different types of heating that are available.