As it’s half term for the children here in Leicestershire this week, I thought I’d do something a little bit different. Each day I will be looking at a different activity to do with children. The activity will be fun and obviously cheap.
Firstly though, I will continue with ‘Weed week – know your enemy’. The more you know about a weed, the more likely you are to stop it from taking hold in your garden.
Broad-leaved Dock – ( A Perennial Weed)
Broad-leaved Dock are perennial plants that are sometimes known as butter dock, cushy-cows, kettle dock or smair dock. Its Latin name is Rumex obtusifolius. It is one of commonest British native plants.
Broad-leaved dock grows on a range of soils but not the most acid of soils. They are said to favour soils that are high in nitrogen or low in potassium.
Broadleaf dock is a slightly poisonous weed. Livestock have been known to get sick after feeding on it.
Established plants can withstand quite a lot of trampling and mowing. They form a deep branched taproot that is difficult to remove and it will regrow from a small amount left in the ground.
Broad-leaved dock flowers from June to October. It can shed seed from late summer through to winter. A large mature broad-leaved dock can produce up to 60,000 ripe seeds per year.
The seeds germinate any time that conditions are favourable but they mainly germinate in March-April and July-October.
I think the seeds are fascinating as they contain a chemical that inhibits microbial decay and they are capable of surviving in undisturbed soil for over 50 years.
Seedlings of broad-leaved dock generally do not flower in the first year.
In the UK, broad-leaved dock is a host for the potato eelworm, so this is a good reason to remove the plants, eelworm can do a lot of damage to potato crops.
The main weakness of broad leaved dock is it’s not good with competition, i.e. crowding causes flowering to be delayed for up to three years. Also, frequent tilling will disrupt the roots and kill the older plants and seedlings. The plant also thrives in moist environments and improved drainage can also help control its growth.
The best thing is to remove the dock as soon as it appears before the large tap root can develop. If the plant is established then use a fork to dig it out to avoid chopping the root up.
If you want to use a weed killer, then use a glyphosate based weed killer. This will probably need several applications to actually kill an established plant.
If it’s an area you can leave unattended for over a year, you can apply thick, black polythene sheeting, anchored down round the edges, it will kill everything beneath it you leave it for no less than a year. The polythene must be thick to exclude all light, air and water.
I hope you enjoyed reading about this weed.
Today’s Half-Term Activity – Salt Dough
This is a lovely rainy day activity for all ages and you can make some lovely ornaments using salt dough. In fact a couple of years ago, my girls made letters that spelt out ‘Happy Christmas’ and painted them. They hung each one from a piece of tinsel and they lined our fire place beautifully over christmas.
300g plain flour
2 teaspoons cooking oil
Put all the ingredients into a bowl and mix it all with your hands until it rolls into a ball.
Roll the mixture out and have fun making shapes. Keep the shapes small and chunky so they don’t break easily. (Make sure your shapes are a similar size so they cook evenly).
Place your shapes on a baking tray, and cook for 20 minutes – Gas mark 4 / 180C / 350F
When the shapes are cold, paint them with acrylic paint or poster paint.
- Put a hole in each shape so you can thread string through to make necklaces or hang them to make a salt dough mobile.
- Put a paper clip in the top of the shape before you cook the dough, so you can pin it up (see the panda below)
- If you mix a little bit of PVA glue with the paint (1 part PVA to 2 parts paint) this will make the surface tough and shiny.
Thank you for reading my blog today.