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Bindweed

bindweedThe long period of rain and a few weekends working has given the bindweed the sort of break that it needs to really romp. In fact some more remote parts of the garden it looks as if we are deliberately cultivating the weed. We have most varieties from the dinky miniature columbine to the Jack and the Beanstalk sized plants that can smother a shrub in days and have to be attacked with secateurs.

I hate bindweed. The appearance of the pretty bell shaped flowers flags the need to grab a small machete and act immediately. If the bindweed goes to seed the problem will be much worse next year.

Every spring I dig out wheelbarrow loads of its roots, dry and burn them. For a few weeks I think that I’ve finally killed it off and gradually, stop checking so thoroughly. Even though I suspect that it is silently creeping through the branches of large shrubs and twisting through the stems of plants I rarely spot it. Until, seemingly overnight, it has the garden in its grip again.

As the season progresses there is less time to deal with this bully unless it is romping towards our edible produce. But today, out in the sunshine for the first time in weeks I hacked and tugged at the jungle. I filled four barrow loads with the weed which is now drying in a large heap beside the bindweed crematorium. An incinerator for burning the most truculent weeds.

Taking a break I decided to find out if bindweed has any culinary uses. I know that ground elder, my other enemy, is edible and was surprised to discover that you can eat bindweed. This useful website explains that it can be eaten in moderation as it has a purgative effect. I nipped straight out to the garden and sampled a leaf. It was quite tricky to chose which would be the right leaf to ingest. I tried a big leaf first. It tasted quite fresh and salady initially but with a nasty burst of bitterness that lingered in the mouth. I tried a tiny leaf hoping that the taste would be milder but the same bitterness came through. If you need a purge, bindweed soup could be just the answer. The roots are edible too.

Clearing barrow loads bindweed can be satisfying only in the short term, if you ignore the roots it will grow back quickly. Many gardeners encourage it to grow up canes and then poison the lot. I’m not keen to go down the poisoning root as it’s easy to loose precious plants in the process.

Tips and tricks:

  • If bindweed has got a firm grip in your garden, don’t struggle to remove the twisting stems from your shrubs and plants. If you snip the stems near the ground it is much easier remove the bindweed when it has wilted. If you don’t have time to remove the bindweed make sure that you nip of the flowers and buds to stop it self seeding.
  • When making a new bed or replanting an old one, try a dig down to at least twelve inches. We do this twice and always find a lot more bindweed roots the second time.

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22 Comments

  1. Bindweed is evil! It needs to be burned and purged to bare earth! It is makng me crazy! It won’t go away!!!!
    Bwahahahaha! $@&/%€£?!!!!!!

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