Ground Elder Eradication Trial!

TTagetes minuta

This rather unprepossing plant is Tagetes minuta, a half hardy annual and presumably a weed in its native Mexico, which is reputed to kill the roots of my nemesis, Aegopodium podagraria or ground elder.  I heard about it by chance in comments on a Facebook page and decided to check it out on the interweb. Sure enough, even the sage Sarah Raven sings its praises and claims to have cleared a bed of ground elder with it. I have ordered a large packet of seeds for a few pence which will be incredible value if it really works.

According to those who should know, the plant has herbicidal root secretions which destroy the roots of perennial weeds such as ground elder, lesser celandine and couch grass. It is apparently 2.5m tall with finely cut foliage and small creamy yellow flowerheads which are unlikely to turn heads but who cares! If it gets rid of the ground elder and celandines in my prize herbaceous border I don’t care how ugly it is just as long as it doesn’t kill all my other plants as well.

I will make this one of my summer projects with regular updates. I would be very interested in your comments about this subject, particularly from people who may have tried it.

Which? Gardening photo shoot!


Each year I offer to grow seeds in the Which? Gardening Trials and submit my results along with hundreds of other keen subscribers. Last year for the first time they set up an 8 week temporary on-line forum for the trialists to make comments and share experiences during the trial and I was a keen contributor, particularly regarding the climbing French bean ‘Monte Cristo’ which, although delicious to eat, were extremely curly! This got people talking and sharing photos and ideas. I loved it!DSC_0021

So this year I volunteered to grow two varieties of Zinnia to see which one attracted more butterflies and pollinating insects, Garlic Chives to assess their usefulness for salads and boiled potatoes, and Ipomea (Morning Glory) ‘Dacapo Light Blue’  to see how quickly it came into flower from germination.

Chives are chives and not very exciting but the flavour of garlic chives are more garlic than onion so you need to like garlic!DSC_0006

I have featured the Ipomea elsewhere in the blog and they are a real winner, as good or better than the popular and better known ‘Grandpa Ott’ and ‘Heavenly Blue’.DSC_0024

It was the Zinnias that became the stars this year and mainly because I got an email asking if I would be a case study for the magazine and feature my plants and comments when the results are published! Wow! What a privilege. The Trials team had seen the photos I had uploaded on the forum and wanted their own professional photographer to visit my garden and take shots of the plants and me!DSC_0015

And so it was that on a sunny Thursday last week, Matt Fowler, the Which? photographer, drove from High Wycombe to Cheltenham for an hour long photo shoot, him surrounded by equipment and me on my knees amongst the Zinnias!DSC_0089

I am not used to being in front of the camera so it was a little nerve-wracking. However, Matt was used to it and just got in with his job while Cathy was taking pics of him taking pics of me!DSC_0074

I grew the Zinnias in a raised bed in the veg garden so I could keep an eye on them and this turned out to have been a good idea because we could photograph them from all sides and very close up. DSC_0024

I think the light was bouncing off my bald head!DSC_0065

It was a good day and not your average Thursday morning. The varieties were ‘Oklahoma’ and the shorter, rather non-Zinnia like ‘Starbright’. Great plants, easy to grow, undemanding and drought tolerant, long flowering and attractive to bees and butterflies. What more could you want? Well, perhaps more flowers and less of me!