It's that time of year - nature's velcro, the Goosegrass (Gallium aparine if you are into weeds wildflowers, or Cleavers, or Sticky Willies if you are not) is scrambling through the borders, but it has not yet flowered.
This means it's the perfect time to get out there and pull it up.
This job is definitely best done before it flowers, sets seeds and spreads everywhere: we've all heard that phrase about “one year's seed, seven years' weed” haven't we? There is a lot of truth in it, and by dealing with Goosegrass now, you can massively reduce how much of it you will have to deal with next year.
Not only that, but if you leave the Goosegrass to grow, it will tie all the perennials together, which not only spoils their appearance, but means that when you eventually try to pull out the Goosegrass, it will damage their stems. Worse, by taking away their support, you may find that the perennials have grown lax, and unable to stand up by themselves.
Best of all, if you do it now, before it flowers, you can still put it on the compost, thus putting all that lovely green material to good use!
It's really easy to get out - just keep pulling and pulling, and wind it round itself into bundles. It's also really easy to find it - just thrust a hand into the greenery, and if you wear gloves, it will stick to you like, well, like velcro, and if your hands are bare, you can't miss the harsh scratchy feel of the stalks.
You don't need to get the whole root out: as it's an annual, it doesn't re-grow from the root, so don't waste time trying to painstakingly dig out every skinny little stalk, just pull off the top growth. I have been known, when faced with really bad infestations, to twirl my border fork, spaghetti-eating-style, in order to wind it in by the bucketful.
How will you know if you've left it too late? If you find you have small fuzzy brown balls sticking to your clothing, then those are the seeds, and you have left it too late to compost it: it will have to go on the bonfire heap, or into the council green-waste bin. There is no point composting it once the seeds have been set, as you will simply end up with new plants wherever you use the compost.
So get out there now!