The Baby Out with the Bathwater

This summer, what with one thing and another, we never really got on top of the whole cobble weeding thing. Despite the odd feeble attempt from me and the other half occasionally tackling the job whenever we had our coffee on the bench, the dearth of sunny days combined with the lure of more interesting jobs (keeping an eye on that damp patch of paint, for example…) meant that, well, our cobbles and gravel are pretty much as weedy as they were when we started. And no, I haven’t interplanted them with thyme yet, although it’s still vaguely on my to do list.

So I was intrigued to hear on Gardeners’ Question Time the other day what seemed like a simple trick to keep pathways clear without resorting to chemicals: every time you cook potatoes or pasta, chuck the pan of boiling water onto the path. Simple, and no need to use any extra energy either. Albeit, as it turns out, slightly less simple when you’re standing there with a big pan of boiling water with pasta in it which you were hoping to have for supper without having to pick it off the cobbles first. I’m sure there are some people who can manage to strain off the pasta using the pan lid or somehow balancing a colander with their third hand while also looking out for any cats that might be lurking by the door and all this in their slippers in the dark with the rest of supper to get ready, but I’m definitely not one of them. So a compromise was reached whereby the pasta was drained into a colander as normal, with the water going into a big bowl which the other half then chucked onto the path, having checked for marauding cats first.

As you can see from the photo, we’ve a long way to go, but it will be interesting* to see what difference it makes over time.

cobbles before
* insert your own sarcastic comment here. Go on, you know you want to.

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9 Responses to The Baby Out with the Bathwater

  1. Jo says:

    Anyone else think a video is required of the slippered third hand version?

  2. disgruntled says:

    My slippers are staying off the internet…

  3. Charles says:

    Thermodynamic weed control sounds good to me. Get on with it before health and safety advise using warm water only…..if you put salt in the water to cook with does this count as chemical control? I suggest that it is mineral and therefore ok, like Bordeaux mixture.

    Back up to mid 30s today.

  4. viviane says:

    I tried this one too. I must say that you have to eat pasta, rice or potatoes more often than I do to get a significant result.
    Re. third hand : I put the colander on the ground…
    Re. chemical control : I read that it is the starch contained in the water that kills the weeds (that is why it would not work so well with the water from the beans, for instance…) I doubt it, because why did nobody invent a starch-based week killer ?

  5. welshcyclist says:

    I thought it was rolling stones that gathered moss? Sorry, but your weeds look like moss to my untrained eye.

  6. commuterjohn says:

    I have seen stepping stones in a lawn but never stepping cobles!

  7. disgruntled says:

    @Charles – if you google it, the internet is already full of warnings about making sure no children are present etc. (no mention of cats though)
    @viviane – my understanding is that the water has to be over about 93° to work, although the starch (or salt) might make a bit of difference
    @welshcyclist – it’s mostly moss at the moment – the dandelions, grass, vetch, and others are all lurking waiting for spring
    @John – it’s getting that way!

  8. The Paper Boy says:

    Doesn’t the addition of all this starchy water promote moss growth? I know I had a job making “rustic” “stone” (ie. concrete) planters and one of the things we used to do to “age” the planters was spray them with rice water ahead of leaving them to age. The unsprayed ones never got any moss on, the sprayed ones quickly covered in the stuff (and you could see when the spraying had been half-arsed too).

  9. disgruntled says:

    I don’t think we could possibly get any more moss than we have round here. But we’ll see…

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