Weedy to strong

READY FOR ACTION: The tools of the trade for a healthy gardener.

READY FOR ACTION: The tools of the trade for a healthy gardener.

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Three cheers for the doctor who recently advocated gardening as being as good a therapy – if not better – as going to the gym.

What so many people seem to have forgotten is that gardening – even, the light, non-sweaty variety – works muscles, releases feel-good endorphins and encourages folk to get outdoors and breathe fresh(ish) air.

You don’t have to pay a joining fee, you don’t need to wear Lycra – you just enjoy yourself while creating something beautiful. Digging can soon work up a sweat (careful you don’t pull a muscle), pruning can lead to all sorts of gymnastic contortions, even weeding is good for you, good for the garden and good for the compost bin and the world of recycling.

And don’t be conned into thinking that weeding is a spring activity that creeps into summer but ends with the onset of autumn. It’s a year-round activity with periods of intense work and gentle exercise. The modern way to rid a garden of weeds, even the ones with strong roots, is with a weedkiller that contains glyphosate.

However, getting down and doing the dirty is far more satisfying. Digging up weeds by hand, by trowel, by old kitchen knife, may take longer than holding down the button on a sprayer, but the result is instant – clean soil and a bucket filled with unwanted vegetation.

And after weeding it pays to top off the soil with at least an inch of organic matter to act as a mulch to not only deter future weeds from seeding and rooting but also to help retain moisture and cut down the need to water in dry spells. Apply it by hand and you’ll be getting even more beneficial exercise. Look on the garden as the gym of the 21st century.

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