What’s up, dock?

I am trying to establish a useful ground flora in the fruit cage, including aromatic herbs and flowers that attract pollinators. I have several mints, lemon balm, comfrey, strawberries (supposedly a good weed-suppressor), thyme, rosemary, chives and oregano.

Unfortunately, I also have ryegrass, nettles and docks… I don’t mind the first of these too much , but I could do without the other two. I try to garden without chemicals, so wouldn’t normally use any weedkiller and, anyway, it’s not an option in the fruit cage. Whilst nettles are good for a range of insects, they are no good for my bare arms and legs, so I am cutting these back regularly and putting the wilted tops on the compost heap since they are a good compost activator.

Chickens find freshly-cut docks highly entertaining.

Chickens find freshly-cut docks highly entertaining*.

The trouble with docks is that they are vigorous and seed very freely. If you dig them up, it’s likely that you will leave pieces of root in the ground, from which they will resprout. In addition, if you dig them up, you leave a bare patch of soil that is an ideal seed bed for new docks, or other unwanted species. I am, therefore, trying to eradicate the docks slowly. This year, I let them grow until they produced flowers and thus used up lots of resources, then yesterday I cut them back to the ground. I removed all the cuttings from the ground and spread them out on the concrete path for the chickens to enjoy.

In theory, now the hens have lost interest, I could now compost this material, but I’m cautious in case any of the seeds have already formed – I don’t want to be propagating even more docks. So, I’m going to dry out the material and them we will use it as fuel for our Kelly kettle… a good use of a ‘waste’ product from the garden.

-oOo-

* Please note, Perdy has not lost her head in the dock-related excitement, she’s just looking over her shoulder.

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6 Comments

  1. Whew I was worried for a moment. You should have had a notice made, “No Chickens were harmed during the making of this Blog. RSPCA in attendance at all times.”

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  2. I nurture the nettles when they arrive, great liquid feed. Maybe your next wool project should be working out which type of wool is best for resisting nettle stings and then crochet some weeding gloves 🙂

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  3. The Man made me buy a book (well, he didn’t have to try too hard) about edible weeds the other day, both Dock and Nettles were in it!
    Maybe you should try to cultivate some in pots, if nature has its normal way the things you are actually trying to grow become much more likely to die unexpectedly! Weed control by reverse psychology? 😉

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