‘No-dig’ gardening expert on weeds: Method promotes ‘essential’ environment for plants

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Weeds sprout up among your ornamental plants and vegetables, competing with them for essential nutrients from the soil. Often people opt to dig up these weeds, but this can damage your garden some experts claim.

Ellen Mary is a gardening expert and author of The Joy of Gardening. She hosts the Plant Based Podcast and subscribes to a “no-dig” gardening method.

The gardener takes a more natural approach to weeds, explaining the plants – traditionally hated by gardeners – can be hugely beneficial.

Ellen told Express.co.uk: “Every single weed on the planet has a reason for being there.”

The gardener, who shared her October jobs for the garden with Express.co.uk recently, does not dig weeds out in her garden. 

What is no-dig gardening?

No-dig gardening involves not removing weeds by digging them out but instead laying down a mulch.

This means the weeds die back under the organic matter and their helpful nutrients are absorbed into the soil.

BBC’s Gardeners’ World presenter Mark Lane is also an advocate of mulching, explaining its benefits to Express.co.uk.

He said: “The best things for mulch are wooden bark, homemade compost – if it’s really well-rotted – and a thing called leaf mould, which you make by collecting your own leaves in a compost box.

“Now the whole idea about putting a thick layer of that down is basically stopping the light to the soil, which means that any other weeds that might still be in the soil can’t grow because they’ve got no light that they can get to.”

Some argue soil is disrupted by pulling up weeds, as well as the wildlife living in the soil.

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Ellen said: “Generally, my method of gardening is no-dig and that means every year I put a layer on top of my soil.

“I don’t dig into the soil I just layer it.”

She pointed out weeks are useful for the garden, dubbing some “brilliant”.

She said: “A stinging nettles, of course, their flowers are really important for pollinators.

“Dandelions are actually essential, you can eat them and you can also make tea from them, which is full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.”

Ellen keeps weeds down with mulch in the areas where she grows vegetables and keeps space free in her garden to grow beneficial weeds.

Dandelions help nearby plants by attracting pollinators to the garden, keeping your other plants thriving.

Clover flowers, which grow among plants like cabbage and broccoli, do a similar job.

Besides edible weeds, others can help improve the garden for your plants.

Nightshade helps to break up the soil, so roots can grow deeper.

Mark Lane recently dished out a tip for how to kill slugs involving cheap beer. 

Discussing tips to eradicate the pests from your garden, Mark said: “Slugs are really attracted to the yeast in beer, the sugar in it.”

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