Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Weed of the Week!

Charnock - a right nasty little beggar!

It's actually part of the cabbage family and apparently, in years gone by, its leaves were eaten as a source of protein when people were too poor to buy anything better. Not sure I'd fancy it myself though!

Don't be fooled by those pretty yellow flowers. It is a voracious grower and spreads rapidly. The new growth is spindly and shallow rooted. The older growth (as I found to my cost at the weekend) has long, interconnecting roots and is a PIG to dig up!

Its seeds have been known to germinate even after up to 50 years of laying dormant in the soil - which is why the weed is such a common site in ploughed fields. I don't know if our garden was ever ploughed, but the flippin' seeds have come from somewhere!

I'd never really noticed the charnock before, but it was a bit rampant this year .... until last weekend, that is! I was fairly sure it was a weed and a knowledgeable friend/ weed expert identified it for me. The part of the garden it had sprung up in is the area behind the fruit cage, which I cleared of stones and dug over last year to transplant the rhubarb into it - Aaha! Yikes! It's all my fault!!!
The piggin' seeds were there all the time, lying in wait for some idiot to come along and dig 'em up!!
What it looked like pre-Charnock can be seen here:

In fact, what it looks like post-Charnock can also pretty much be seen there too except that the rhubarb is in there now! Having dug up the Charnock, without disturbing the rhubarb, I've sown Honesty and Poppy seeds across the bed around the base of the variegated maple. I can't wait for them to come up.

The rhubarb is well travelled - and not just from inside the fruit cage to outside it either! It originally came from the famous Yorkshire 'rhubarb triangle' about 20 years ago. . It was brought down the 30 miles from the triangle to Rotherham (where we lived at that time) via a link that is best kept secret(NEVER give away the source of rhubarb triangle rhubarb!), then up to Aberdeen (long way, long story!) and back to Chesterfield 10 years later, where it was split into 4 and is still going strong. When I moved ours out of the fruit cage last Autumn, I split it into 4, gave 2 away and planted the other 2. It does mean we can't have our own rhubarb crop this year as it needs time to re-establish itself, but it's doing well.

Also doing well are the willow shoots I planted about 6 weeks ago at the top end of one side of the vegetable garden to hide our large and motley collection of compost bins. The holes are actually the 200 leeks I planted at the weekend! They are to the left of the onions and garlic and above the globe artichoke, carrots, spring onions, pak choi and chinese cabbage.

These are some of my carrots before I thinned them! This may not seem much to get excited about to you, but I didn't need to thin them last year as you can't really thin one single carrot!
I planted FIVE rows last year and all I got was one measly carrot - it may have been the biggest and most perfect carrot I've ever grown, which isn't saying a lot given my previous lack of success with carrots, but it was only one. Threatening them that this was their last chance obviously did the trick!

Further down the garden, the azalea is looking seriously fabby this year and works so well with the colours of the Laburnum tree and the Wigelia.

........ and the poppies are abundant this year too.

A hard winter obviously means we get a cracking spring show!


Rob (ourfrenchgarden) said...

Each time I google charnock It returns very little info, except that I think it's also called Kedlack and grows amongst corn and rye. It's actually a pretty weed, but in someone else's garden right?

I reckon threatening the carrots must have done the trick.

Funny how some things have responded to the previous winter. It was colder than average here too and the Lilacs responded accordingly.

Christine said...

Mmmm...artichokes! I grew globe artichokes one year but only had one from each plant, close to the end of the growing season. Have you had similar experiences with the yields? Very funky looking plants, I like them a lot, but want more than just one.

Cheryl said...

Well thank you for clearing that up. I have that weed in my garden and am having trouble pulling it. I did not know it was called charnock.

Love your willow.......such a lovely way to screen something.....

joey said...

Luv your weed of the week post, Liz! Your whole garden is looking seriously 'fabby' but am especially intrigued by your Yorkshire rhubarb. I'm very impressed ... you really do have a green thumb!

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

Hi Liz, love your long rows of carrots. I grew two kinds of fingerlings from seeds in containers and have harvested the first kind already. Yummy! Those weeds do look serious. That's the trouble, isn't it, with digging in soil (loosening up dormant seeds), which, oh yeah, just happens to be what gardeners do to plant! :)

Shady Gardener said...

Liz, You are so busy over there!! I grew a nice row of carrots two years ago. I really did dig a good number of produce, however they were short and stubby... I'll have to try again. You've given me an incentive. :-) Have a great day!!

Diana (Di) said...

Hello dear lady. There is no weed that can get the better of you, and of that I am certain. ;) Your vegetable garden sounds a bit like ours: "leeks, onions, garlic, (no artichoke), carrots, pak choi (Shanghai Bok choy) and chinese cabbage, and if only I could hand you (over the fence) some of the fresh broccoli we just picked. Have a splendid week.

Liz said...

Hi Liz,

Well, will you lookit them there Carrots!!!

You do me proud :)

Have you had a go at growing some in a pot/bucket? I’ve got quite a few coming up now and sowed some more in our veggie planter over the weekend to get a succession. (will you lookit me sounding like I know what I’m talking about??!!!)

Loving the Willow screen, it’s exactly what I have too, only I need to coppice it now as they’re growing into trees… I’d love to make a living willow screen, only I have no real idea how to do it**

**Or maybe I’m just scared of it going wrong hee hee.

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Rob. The charnock got called many things at the weekend, but Kedlack wasn't one of them!!!

I tried googling it for photo ID first and got nowhere too. Fortunately my friend is good on weeds - and has an old Reader's Digest Big Book of Weeds (or something) and she told me all about it! It did seem a shame to dig it up as it is pretty ... but definitely in someone else's garden!

I got some garden centre vouchers for my birthday and I'd decided to get a lilac for up the garden, so it's great to hear how well yours has done.

Hi Christine. We love artichokes too! I stuck this one in a few years ago and just leave it to sort itself out! I do tidy up the very dead leaves in late winter and I pick off the snails from time to time, but it seems happy to be otherwise ignored! Its yields have increased year on year, so maybe you need to try again and give it a bit longer?!
I also planted one on our south facing front terrace and that gets totally forgotten about until I spot the globes!
I love their shape and form - they're very tactile plants ......ah, maybe that's the key? - I do tend to strike the leaves as I go past! :D

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Cheryl - dig deep and pull hard.....and call it every name under the sun when it won't come up!

Hi Joey - thanks for that. the Yorkshire rhubarb triangle really does produce the world's best rhubarb!!!
I don't know about a green thumb's a mucky brown most of the time :D

Hi Monica - I really am ridiculously proud of my carrot crop this year :)

The charnock is a bit of a swine and I reckon it'll be an ongoing source of irritation every year now that I've unleashed the demon seed!!!

Hi Shady. It has been a very busy few weeks, but I had to get organised because I'm project managing some building and decorating work on the house over the next few weeks ....that all sounds a bit posh - I'm just making sure they do what I want them to!

I don't care how short and stubby my carrots are, I'm just happy to have got some!

Hi Di. I would gladly take some broccoli off you as we finished the last of our purple sprouting broccoli last week!
The veg garden continues on the left hand side of the path and is ?about 3 times as big again? I've planted runner beans, broad beans, peas, mange tout, vertus cabbage, romanesco broccoli, courgettes, squash,sweetcorn and mixed salad leaves in there, plus tomatoes, cucmber, aubergines, peppers and chillies in the greenhouse!....... keeps me out of mischief ;)

Ey-up Liz. Oh aye, I'm dead chuffed wi mi carrots! I'm going to plant another row today as well. I tend not to use pots and planters because I forget to water them!!!

Re the willow. All you do is chop the tops off your current willows, strip the leaves off the bottom few inches,stick them in the ground and water them well for the first couple of weeks! To be fair though, because mine were going into a very dry spot on a slope next to some manky old conifers, I also dipped the bases in rooting compound first and built a little mud wall round them to contain the water certainly seems to have done the trick. Just give it a go - if they die you can always try again with more bits of willow!:)

Muddy Boot Dreams said...

I have always wondered what that weed was, and now I can name the darn thing.


Britta said...

Hi, Nutty gnome, your wild weed sounds 'taresome'! Just like my ground elder - one is never the victor. But you are doing a great job with your garden - and the rhubarb sounds very vigorous. I had another sort once, but made tha fault to let it flower - then it was dead, think it lost its force by that. Well, Inow I have almost only flowers. (And 2 plums, 1 apple, a quince and grapes). Britta

Nutty Gnome said...

Good morning Jen - name it, dig it up and burn it!
Have a great weekend :)

Hi Britta, you're right - I think the charnock is going to prove very 'taresome' - but I'm just as stubborn as it is!

Our rhubarb flowers in late summer too, then it dies back to almost nothing to lie dormant over winter. If I remember I dump some compost on top, but I'm usually too busy doing other jobs!
It starts to poke its head up in early spring and by late May the rhubarb is fantastic. We sometimes 'force' it by sticking a terracotta forcer or an old dustbin on top - that way it comes up quicker looking for the light and you get superb pale pink sweet rhubarb!

Over the past 2-3 years we've planted apples, damson,sweet cherry, pear and a plum - but the plum seems to have been killed off by the harsh winter. I would love for it to be hot enough to grow grapes though! :)

Anonymous said...

A liar is not believed when he speaks the truth...................................................

Nutty Gnome said...

Thank you for your comment HaroldM22. I will meditate on that. :)

Woody Wilbury said...

I'll be interested to see how the willow does. I've thought of getting some several times to make a "fedge" at the bottom of the garden.

Nutty Gnome said...

Ey-up Woody. It's doing well so far and is greening up nicely.
I was careful to keep it watered for the first couple of weeks and I do give it a bit of a splash when I water the onions - other than that,I tend to ignore it!

Anonymous said...

Wow! Liz, you are a fantastic gardener! But aren't you scared of the HUGE crop you're going to get? :))))

Anonymous said...

Liz, terribly sorry if I'm wrong... But the weed look like charLock to me. It's in fact wild mustard.

Thomas said...

You weren't kidding when you mentioned the England and their traditional garden rows. That's a lot of leeks!

Also, I'm envious of the size of your artichoke plants. Hopefully, I'll be able to overwinter mine this year.

Liz said...

Aye, ah've tried the willow thing, last year one did take root bur ah think the winter killed it.
It's no major deal, right nah I've nowhere for th' willow screen anyway other than against th' fence where they already are - and growing into reet good trees atm! Really need them coppicing.

Me second lorrah carrots are coming up that ah sowed a cupple o' weeks ago - dint tek em long. And me first flowers are on me Toms, yay.

re:planters. I put clay in our veggie planter to help soak th' wata up, so far I avn't had to wata them... Me dad advised me to put lots of normal soil in there too cuz the topsoil/compost dries too quick like.

NedaD承蓁 said...

一個人的快樂,不是因為他擁有的多,而是他計較的少。 ....................................................

Carolynn said...

I've never heard of it before. But, then, I generally can't tell the difference between a flower & a weed. If it looks pretty, I like it, regardless. I hope you put a few of those pretty yellow flowers in a vase to enjoy. :ol

Cameron said...

I've been pulling weeds here, but never thought of posting a weed of the week! Great info!

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Olga - no, I'm not worried about the crop ...I'll just have to eat more! :)

Ooh dear, Polly assured me it was charnock!I have NO idea now which it is!

Hi Thomas - good job we all like leek and potato soup in winter! I'll make a huge batch and freeze it in sensible portions :)

The artichokes have been in about 4 years now and we've had ever improving crops from them I love artichokes! I think we're supposed to cover them for winter, but I never remember and they've survived thus far!

Ey-up Liz. Arrv got flowers on me toms an all - reet chuffed!
Them carrots ah did is cummin up dead good nah - guuna stick sum moor in a satdi!

Appen yer dad's reight, bur am still not dead fussed on planters - carnt be arsed!;P

Nutty Gnome said...

NedaD's comment translates as:
"A person's happiness, not because he owns, but he's less fuss"
which I take as a good thing - thank you NedaD.

Carolynn - you obviously know me well now....I did inded pop some of the weed flowers in a vase! (but I threw the roots in the green bin!)

Hi Cameron - oh I've got a few more 'weed of the week' posts up my sleeve ....mainly due to a wide variety of weeds in the garden! :)

Burma家銘ege said...


Nutty Gnome said...

Burma ege's comment translates as:
"When a person's heart can hold different conflicting things, this man started to become worthwhile."

Thank you for that thought provoking comment Burma. I appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

Time and tide wait for no man. ............................................................

Rob (ourfrenchgarden) said...

Hi Liz

Just a quick note about the insecticidal soap stuff.

i'm pretty sure the shop won't mail order (it's a small, sleepy little outfit in Belves) but I saw this on the web which could be even better as it multifuntional, organic and has a posh name

What d'you reckon?

Woody Wilbury said...

Your "splitting the rhubarb" comment reminds me of grandfather's axe. You must know about grandfather's axe?

It's a damn fine axe, you know; it used to be my grandfather's. Mind you, my dad put a new handle on it a few years ago and I had to put a new head on it last year. But it's still a damn fine axe. They don't make them like that nowadays.

Nutty Gnome said...

Fenfen - you are so right. thank you for that.

Rob - thanks for that ...I've ordered some, so I'll let you know how I get on :)

Woody - this really made me and Himself laugh!! See you in the Fat Cat next week :D

Nutty Gnome said...

Fenfen - you are so right. thank you for that.

Rob - thanks for that ...I've ordered some, so I'll let you know how I get on :)

Woody - this really made me and Himself laugh!! See you in the Fat Cat next week :D

freerangegirl said...

Thankyou Nutty Gnome for naming the yellow blighter that i've been digging out of my garden for the past two years! Love the blog and glad to see the rhubarbs from Yorkshire!

Titania said...

Hi Liz, it has been a while, better late then never! Yes weeds, I have a few of those, persistent ones, what ever I do I can not get rid of them. I tell them, I do not see you, you are not there. I wish I could grow Rhubarb, really juicy, dark red. Not the puny sticks which are sold as Rhubarb. Your garden looks lovely, like the poppies and azalea. Happy summer days. T.

Nutty Gnome said...

Hey Freerangegirl - good blog of yours, I enjoyed reading it. Charnock is a vicious little devil, but we just have to keep going at it!
Got to keep my Yorkshire heritage with me wherever I go - whether it's rhubarb or language! :)

Hi Titania - nice to see you again, it's been too long my friend! :)
The rhubarb is usually lovely, but we've not been allowed any this year after transplanting it :(
Happy 2nd day of summer :D