For a second, I thought he was going to deliver the revelation that would transform the garden for the better. Finally! Victory would be mine.
He sat back and said (rather smugly, if you must know): “We pay £10,000 and someone comes and digs up the whole garden to three feet deep. Keith had it done with a property he inherited”.
Hmmm, not the answer I was looking for. I really could do with getting rid of the bindweed though. As I have mentioned before, when we moved in the garden was a mess. The previous occupants had used it as a rubbish dump for 10 years; when they were repossessed, the garden was deemed a public health hazard and it took four skips to clear it out. When we moved in, the garden was covered in weeds and waist-high brambles. Rather like Sleeping Beauty’s castle, if Sleeping Beauty’s castle was a former council terrace.
Three years later, we have a lawn and the brambles have been mostly relegated to the corners (good for blackberries, come autumn) but the bindweed is everywhere and it is so difficult to get rid of. At the beginning of every summer, it comes up through the lawn and grows up into the hedges at a phenomenal rate. If I don’t clear it, it carpets the garden and the hedges in no time at all. I can keep it under control, but it’s a lot of hard work.
Bindweed is one of those annoying plants that will not die: its brittle root systems meander around underground, popping up shoots whenever they feel like it. The roots are brittle, so if you try and pull them out they break off in your hand; the broken pieces continue to grow underground, turning one bindweed plant into two. Because the roots are so long, grow through tightly packed earth and grow so quickly, they are very difficult to eradicate.
I have bindweed on the brain this weekend, because I have made a tentative start digging over the big, messy mound of earth at the back of the garden (in line with my New Year’s Resolutions). When I began digging, it seemed as if there as much bindweed root as there was soil. I filled a bucket within minutes – and the space I cleared was pathetically small.
I also unearthed a pile of non-biodegradable rubbish, which I guess is the norm when digging over a former rubbish tip. An iron bar, half a plastic action figure, broken bricks, a teething ring, crisp and sweet packets… Nice! One of the crisp packets (Space Invaders, no less) had a best before date of 1977. So perhaps this bindweed infestation goes back even further than I had thought.
This particular heap of soil/bindweed is destined for a skip, but what about the rest of it? Errrrrrrrgh, what can I do? Annoyingly the lawn-friendly weedkiller stuff has no effect. Bindweed, it seems, is the post-nuclear cockroach of the weed world.
I’m not going to pay £10,000, that’s for sure. It could be worse: it could be the dreaded Japanese knotweed. (Have you seen this horrible video of knotweed growing through the floors of someone’s house?) Even so, I want rid. A fourth summer of bindweed clearance looms. Any thrifty ideas? Please?
Image credit: Phil Sellens.