If you suffer the unwanted attentions of ground elder, this is the ideal moment to get out in the garden and grub some up. It's just poking its leaves above the ground, and the soil (at least in my patch) is damp and easy to dig, so the roots come out easily.
Some of you may remember that in 2012 I spent three weeks upside-down in the flowerbeds, pulling out ground elder. Well, I was on my knees in the borders again today. About time, I thought, for an update.
The first thing that you no doubt know (it's about the first thing that anyone tells you) about this weed is that it will always come back. (Honestly, it deserves an award for persistence.) Get every little bit of root out, we're told, as it will regenerate from the smallest piece.
Lots of people will tell also you the only way to get rid of it is with glyphosate, but one day I'll blog about why we should never - never - use it. When I last posted, Kininvie from the (now lapsed) Gardening at the Edge said that burning it off as it appeared had proved fairly successful. This chimes with Bob Flowerdew's recommendation that you will get on top of it if you persist in pulling off every leaf visible, but you have to do it while they're small.
Personally, I weed. I even, sort of, quite like doing it.
But my point is, I'm not having to do that much of it. Really. The weedathon of 2012 reduced sightings to a minimum. This afternoon, I've pulled out a bit, but it's not run rampage as it used to.
You possibly remember that I put forward a slightly wacky suggestion that improving the soil would discourage the ground elder (or at the very least make it easier to pull up). That year I poured quite a bit of soil improver on the beds in winter 2012-13, especially Dalefoot Compost's Lakeland Gold, which contains bracken, a traditional claybuster. I spread home-made compost and I spread rotted manure. I did the same last year. Can't say I buried the beds; they probably got about an inch on average. I also sprinkled Clay Breaker, the gypsum-based pellets from Vitax.
The soil is definitely better, though it's a long, long way from perfect. But I'm sticking to my theory. The worst bit of ground elder I've just dug out? In the really clayey bit that's been compacted by the contractor putting in next door's new fence. (Actually, I get the distinct impression that he might have shovelled some of their stickiest soil over to my side.)
So, really, this post is meant as encouragement. Courage, mes amis. Digging out ground elder is not the hiding to nothing that it's so often portrayed to be. Get rid of enough of it and it becomes a weed that, yes, requires a vigilant eye but needn't make you a slave to it.
Assuming, of course, that you get out there early enough each year and pip it at the post.
Now, what do you do about your invasive weeds?