Hairy Bittercress

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Several weeks ago, my brother sent me this image and asked what the plant is?  With no idea of scale, it took me some time.  Eventually, I went ‘old school’, looking through an old Gem Book of Wildflowers to discover it is Hairy Bittercress.

Anyone who has bought a plant from the garden centre or a bag of compost will, sooner or later, encounter this weed.  It is tiny and prolific, with long seed-heads that fling tiny seeds great distances – up to three feet in all directions.

If, like me, you don’t want to use chemicals to control it, then hand-weeding as soon as you see the tiny white flowers, is the only way to get rid of it.

I’ve found a lot of this is present in one particular brand of compost I bought, used to grow seedlings, and inadvertently introduced into my raised beds.  Fortunately, it is easier to see there than in the undergrowth of my flower borders.

It’s growing in walls, between brick paths, in pots and tubs, and in almost every border.

Luckily it doesn’t take a lot of effort to dislodge it.  I’m putting mine in a garden waste bag to go the the Recycling Centre, NOT in my compost bin.  And I won’t be using the free compost from the Recycling Centre, or the brand I bought in.

It’s only small, less than four inches high.  Pull it up as soon as you see it and avoid buying in plants that have tiny weeds growing on the surface.  If it doesn’t look like the plant you’re buying, it’s probably this stuff.

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