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Weeds - How do you deal with yours?

I'm sure that I'm not alone in having an ongoing battle with weeds- plants that are growing somewhere you don't want them to. I seem to have a very good share of them at my place and because I live on 5 or so acres, they are difficult to keep under control. Most of my 5 acres is grass though, which is relatively easy to control. A rider mower and my next door neighbours horses see to that. They are in my back paddock now, happily munching away and depositing manure for the garden, and obligingly selecting only specific areas to drop their poo so that It's easier for me to collect it.

While the grass is easy, my orchard areas and vege garden areas are much more labour intensive. I made the mistake several years ago of collecting horse manure from a work colleague, and put this straight on the vege garden. Unfortunately I collected this in winter when the nut grass that infested the manure was dormant. As the weather warmed up so the nut grass started pushing up too. I soon lost the battle to get rid of it and it is now in complete control of the area. I don't use it for veges anymore, but have converted it to growing fruit trees as these can grow alongside the nutgrass a lot easier.

My biggest weed concern though is from a relatively innocuous looking succulent plant known as "baby buttons", "baby's tears", or more accurately "Corsican's Curse", after the Corsican military man that discovered it and gave it to the world. I believe it came to me in a pot plant that we were given as a present. It escaped into the garden and like most innocuous plants it took a while to spread and I was completely unaware of it's weed potential. Like a lot of succulents it only needs a tiny leaf part to start up a new plant. It loves moisture and manure, and smothers anything in it's path. Around fruit trees this is not so bad, although I don't know how much goodness it takes away from the trees. It also climbs up trees and fences, and in our wet times it spreads quickly. So while I am on the mower trying to keep the rampant grass at bay, it is quietly getting on with it's work of taking over.

It's only at this time of the year that I have the time to try to deal with it. The grass is almost dormant, the weather outside is pleasant, and it's weed killing time! I will not spray herbicides, although according to the literature none will touch it anyway. So other methods are used.  The mat of the weed can be raked up into a cylinder which contains not only the weed but also the manure it has fed on -I'm not going to waste this. It's hard work but always leaves some of the leaves / roots behind to begin more weeds in the summer. Things that have worked so far to kill the weed include drowning it in 44 gallon drums, I stuff the weed in and then fill the drums completely, I bolt on the tops of the drums and so exclude all air and sunlight. This I leave for a minimum of 6 weeks. I do use the resulting tea as a weakened plant feed, but I am aware that the process is anaerobic and so need to aerate the weed tea somehow. I have also managed to procure some damaged old wheelie bins and use these to stuff the weed into, before closing the lids, but not all these are watertight. I have put the weed into a pile and covered it with black plastic during the warmer weather, this kills it also but the plastic quickly falls apart in the sun. 

My latest effort though is to use the dead weeds from the drums, together with the green weed that I've just raked up to make a giant compost pile. Together with horse manure that I've collected from elsewhere, I lasagne these materials. I still don't have enough brown materials though, so I pile the green weeds nearby so that after a few weeks I will be able to use the (now) brown composted materials to make a bigger compost pile. The work is hard, lots of shovelling, lots of raking weeds, hopefully the rewards will be worth it. I also use the drums to kill nutgrass, and other persistent weeds.

How do you deal with your weeds? The photos I have added are 1. A close up of the weed's leaves 2. The weed growing under a Japoticaba tree 3. A close up of the plant's stems 4. A pile of the weed waiting to be composted. 

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Comment by Lissa on May 23, 2015 at 19:25

Eat them. Turn them into weed tea. Smother them. Get an animal to eat them. Hot compost them. Accept them.

5 acres is difficult to control. I had 1.5 at the last place and was inundated with Wandering Jew and Cobblers Pegs. I've found out since that they are both edible, not that I could have eaten that many.

Nut grass - cringe. You've learned not to use horse manure fresh but a bit late now that you have it.

Comment by Mark Braz on May 23, 2015 at 19:05

Can we have a few photo's of your weed from your garden?

Comment by Dave Riley on May 23, 2015 at 16:39

I just throw grass clippings on my beds layer upon layer and when some area gets away from me I lay down weed mat on top until it dies off underneath. This way I move sections of weed mat around the garden as needed.

We're using long wide roles of quality weed mat in the school garden and it is very effective over anything so long as you whipper snipper the grasses/weeds first as you want the mat close to the soil and the snipping itself creates a shadowing mulch layer. In my experience, if you leave it down permanently the weeds may consolidate underneath after a few years so patch working the garden seems to suit.

The element of surprize.Sneak up on 'em.

Denying weeds sunshine does a  quicker job than I expected. Even mulching with weed-seed rich grass clippings suppresses further weed growth.

Like you I've spread manures on the surface and got some nasties . I now prefer to trench bury any manure but noticed that the mean weeds only staid with me for a couple of years. All my weeds now -- because of whatever ecological factors register -- are the same three  species.So I've got to predict their habits over time. But as my garden changed so did the weeds that grew in it.

I've used a lot of weed mat in permanent place and covered it with gravel stones so I don't have to mow.But I don't recommend that. Better to use the mat as a mobile resource. Maybe cut it into manageable sections for easy transport around the garden.

In your case -- and at this time of year -- maybe you could consider burning off the weed culprits with aflame torch?

You are never going to rid yourself of the weed seeds but you can change the environment.

I use a Boron(Borax)/Vinegar mix to spot kill weeds and it is effective on most of them. But the size of the area you have to tackle may preclude that.

Another major weed killing option is to employ chickens. Chickens ability to turn a patch into ground zero is true shock and awe. Getting them to only savage what you want killed off is a challenge. Chickens will also pick through and maybe destroy your harvested weeds if you throw it into their pen. That's where my weeds end up if I pull any.

Maybe Muscovy Ducks are an option...

But if there are foxes and feral dogs around it may not be an option to run free range chooks or ducks.

Then maybe geese?

Assuming you can get on with them....they are like adolescents to live with I gather.

All geese will weed to a certain extent. The best choice: A white Chinese weeding goose. The Chinese specifically bred this goose to be a weeder over 2,000 years ago. Imagine that!
A goose at 6-7 months of age will eat consume an amount of grass equal to their weight everyday! One goose is adequate to weed an urban garden. For larger areas with an abundance of weedy grasses you would require 3 to 5 geese to get things under control. If you have a pond or waterway on your property your geese will appreciate a swim and they will keep the water free from grasses!

Comment by Mark Braz on May 23, 2015 at 10:42

Try changing the PH

Comment by Roger Clark on May 23, 2015 at 10:29

Thanks Warren, It would certainly be worth a try as an experiment, I could give it a go in one area and then expand it as needed.

Comment by Warren Goodlet on May 23, 2015 at 9:59

G'day Roger, I know a fellow who has acreage & a nutgrass problem......he completely killed it off by allowing Ceylon Spinach to grow on the ground until it completely smothered it. Then over time the nuts in the soil rotted from lack of sunlight. A humans view of a weed is simply a "plant out of place" in our eyes, so why not make those "baby tears" cry even more with a little competition by surrounding the whole area with Ceylon seeds as they are very capable of self- sowing without any care at all! Being a vine, the horses won't be able to keep up with it as it climbs anyway....although I guess you could put a star picket temp fence around the worst of it.

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