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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 Roger Clark on May 24, 2015 at 17:40

Smothering myself? it might come to that yet.

Comment by Lissa on May 24, 2015 at 17:27

lol Roger :) This site is easy!

Yeah, as Rob suggested that's Wandering Jew not Corsican Curse. Bloody awful thing to get rid of and gives dogs a rash on the belly. Hot compost the sod or try smothering.

Comment by Roger Clark on May 24, 2015 at 16:53

Lissa, I followed your instructions and what do you know? It worked. Even an old dog like me can learn new tricks. Thanks for the info. I will go out now and get a close up of the CC leaves and attach it to my blog.

Comment by Dave Riley on May 24, 2015 at 11:03

Just on the geese option:

Just so long as you do your homework and check out the capacity of the geese to fulfil your needs and any issues they may present. For instance, you need to clip their wings and handling geese is not as easy as cradling a chicken although they'd be easier to catch.They are also aggressive like dogs and bark a lot at intruders and danger. A couple I know have the problem that the geese likes him but not her....and I thought parrots only did that!

I'd also harvest some of your weeds and see if the geese will eat them before you commit to the creature. But it is a cheap option (maybe $50?)...if they tick all the main boxes.Down our nearby road the geese run freely over the property despite predator birds and whatever canines you'd expect in the area.

In Virginia on Sandgate Road geese are deployed as watch geese protecting a council bus storage depot!

But long term, geese may be  an option...just so long as you can live with them AND protect your seedlings. You can also source poultry and get info through poultry clubs like the one in Caboolture.

Comment by Lissa on May 24, 2015 at 5:52

Morning Roger :)

I've just tried adding your pic to this blog but the system won't let me. To add photos go to Options, Edit Post (top right of post). 

Top left in the dialogue box you will see Entry and Add: followed by icons under it.

The first icon is LINK, the second is a little photo frame. When you hover your cursor over it it shows the word Image. Click on this to add your photos.

It's a bit hard to make out the leaves of your weed in the photos you have posted. Something up close would be useful for identification.

Comment by Roger Clark on May 24, 2015 at 5:39

The scientific name is soleirolia soleirolii, or helxine soleirolii. common names baby's tears, baby's buttons, Corsican's Curse, mind your own business (no, that IS a name), Irish Moss. Weedmat would be a good way to rid an area, but I have so much that I'd have to move it around a lot. Thankfully, because I grow in above ground beds, it is easier to keep it out of these, but it does climb very well, over a fence if allowed. Like Wandering Jew it only needs a tiny bit to break off, to be able to start up again. When I rake / roll it up it often leaves tiny purple rooted pieces underground, just waiting for the wet conditions to return. Even in prolonged drought it survives, unnoticed, underground. I need to see it as a resource which can be recycled and turned into compost, as I don't think it's ever going away. 

Comment by Dave Riley on May 24, 2015 at 0:07

This is the sort of weedmat we use at the school garden:

I do recommend that sort of heavy duty quality which is still quite light to work with.Weigh or peg it down. Don't bother with the standard hardware matting --such as Coolaroo -- as it a bit too light and lifts easily nor does it have the fibre strength for year in  year out reuse. You want the width as much as the length too.

Having wide widths is a great advantage for ease of use. So 5 metre widths are to be preferred.

Rather than buy a full roll you could possible get your requirements from a horticultural nursery or landscaper.

Ironically I find weedmat more destructive of weeds underneath than impermeable plastic. I guess that may be due to the fact that plastic can create microclimates as they puff up. Impermeable plastic also allows water to pool on top and that brings mosquitoes.

Weedmat is much easier to work with than say recycled carpet which is another option. Cardboards and papers rot away, but will, of course, work under replenished mulch. I also find weeds ingratiate themselves where  paper or cardboards or weedmats join each other despite overlap. So the bigger the sheet cover is best.

At home here I've use cheap narrow weedmat which I move around to targeted spots but after using the wide commercial stuff  I'm hooked. Gotta get me some as a gardening essential to cherish and use year in year out.

As I suggest, lifting and moving the matting around is a very different gardening technique than laying it down permanently or cutting holes for plants.Organic market gardeners use that method all the time. Any bed not being planted out is covered in matting.

A variation is to whipper snip then cover with matting...and when you uncover and the weeds come on again, they are much more vulnerable to your attention and easier to target or drown in mulch. Of course if and when the weeds come back, you cover them again. That's the routine.

It's like drowning rats.

I've used 'ground cover' plants/living mulch as per the standard folk lore but when you get weeds among the ground cover there isn't much you can do except cull the whole area.

I've found that after years of mulching with grass clippings -- layer upon layer -- my beds reach a threshold that seem to be weed unfriendly. Weeds are opportunistic colonisers and are sure to have a life cycle dependent on conditions. So as Mark suggests, as my garden pH changes with the grass clippings breaking down, the weeds feel less at home. That and the shading-out seems to work and i need only weed   a few times each year pulling out occasional culprits.

When you consider that every time I throw down grass clippings I'm throwing down thousands of weed seeds  and rooting segments of different species picked up by commercial mowing contractors,  the joke is on the weeds.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on May 23, 2015 at 21:48

Just as a matter of interest, if you can get an accurate scientific name at least we will know what species is involved. I might have the stuff here for all I know.

Comment by Mark Braz on May 23, 2015 at 19:52

Sheep love nut grass, that only take care of the top half.

Think canage the PH for a while, nuke it that way and grow something that like that PH range.

Alot of our weeds/pest plants can be retarded by a small shift in PH, "Do try it"

Comment by Mark Braz on May 23, 2015 at 19:44

Just a hint, Hot (hot hot hot) compost all green and brown manure before adding to your garden.

A few points to consider

Kill the seeds, at stage 1 do not let animals spread the problem. Rember each weed seed out will result in ia n new plant ready ( all too soo, thats why they are weeds) produce more seed.

Please If you are recycling weed make sure you HOT compost it. If you do not know how , just ask.

If your weeded compost is not smoking you are not doing it correctly. (you will only create a rich growing mix for the weed and then spread it around your garden= problem x 100)

The key is to hot compost, this requires turning every 2 days, same with water, and a good mix (layers) of green (wet) brown (dry) you have to get it hot, add air ,water and time, let nature do its thing and you will be rewarded.

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