Flame flowering


A couple of weeks ago I sowed some overwintering veg and got the raised beds prepared in the tunnel. Now some of the  seedling are ready for planting before they become too big for their modules. In the mean time some wild flowers have returned to the raised beds Chickweed ( stellaria media ) and dandeline (taraxacum offinale) mainly. The approach was to remove by hand the perennial flowers first including the roots  and flame of small annual weeds which had not yet produced seed. Here I am using a Buthane gas flamer to remove the unwanted flowers. Doing this gives the seedlings the very best start possible allowing them to get ahead of the weeds by a couple of weeks. Once  the beds have been planted it wont be possible to flame again and the hoe will be used.

The flamer was used to demonstrate one of the many ways of controling the growth of flowers in the wrong place. Note the use of the board to protect the Polytunnels plastic. The doors were kept open for ventilation.

I have stopped myself using the term weed as this gives a negative impression of a wild flower which is as valid as any plant that may grow in a space and indeed could be seen as more interesting for the fact that one does,nt need to go to all this trouble to put it there. Richard Maybes book the story of weeds is worth a read as it’s impossible to think of them in the same way again.


The 2×4 inch posts need to be driven in 2 foot , great for staying warm. Used a crowbar to break up the soil a bit.


The winterkeef pea (Pisum sativum) are now in with strong supports.The plants are space 2 inches apart.


Some brassica oleracea going in after the flaming. I, m told the heat releases Potasium from woody particles in the compost /soil  which will be available to the young plants.I would,nt be a fan of flame weeding generally purely from an environmental point of view but doing this got me thinking about Gorse and why we burn it. The seeds of gorse  (ulex europaeus) are adapted (Serotiny), specifically to fire meaning that they need to be burned to release their seed. An unburned patch of gorse would quickly give way to pioneer tree species and sucession would take place. The burning keeps areas of gorse as gorse and prevents them from becoming a forest. It’s amazing to think what might happen if we stopped burning in Wicklow . I,ve come to realise that much of what we consider natural and beautiful in terms of Irish landscape is actually not natural. We have created and maintain what could be described as wet deserts. It’s worth pondering while hiking.  



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