One-off weeding session not enough to keep pests at bay

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It’s important to remove any weeds because they are competing for available food and moisture. They also offer refuge to garden pests.

We’ve been hand-weeding various vegetable beds recently, especially the onions, sweet corn and courgettes.

And a one-off is not enough. Every two weeks is more realistic.

It’s demanding of time, yes, but the plants you are cultivating benefit, and the likes of chickweed and groundsel will take over if left unchallenged.

Summer fruits are coming along nicely. We’re picking strawberries in tune with Wimbledon. They’re netted, of course. The gooseberries are big enough to harvest the makings of a pie and allow remaining fruits to benefit from the thinning-out.

We avoid mildew attack because the bushes are pruned to encourage a flow of air through the centre. This is achieved by surrounding young plants with canes radiating outward to form a goblet shape. Tie strong young stems to that and they will do the rest.

Fruits have also set well on the black and redcurrants, but the topmost leaves were curling inward, betraying an aphid presence. Pruning out the tips removes part of the problem at a snip, but I follow up with a soap-based spray, which they don’t like. Small insectivorous birds play their part by visiting the plants daily.

There’s going to be a bumper main crop of raspberries. The fruits have set well and protective netting will have to come out of storage soon. Meanwhile, the autumn-fruiting raspberries are making decent progress.

With so many demands on time elsewhere in the garden, it would be easy to bypass the ornamental borders, leaving them on automatic pilot, but there is staking, tying, weeding and cutting back of spent flower stems to consider.

Top priority at present is checking over group plantings of sweet pea, cutting fresh for vases and removing those that have faded.

It’s always wise to have a large tub by your side for the weeds you cannot walk past while on border patrol.