Need help getting rid of thistle...

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by JanO, Jul 22, 2006.

  1. JanO

    JanO Well-Known Member Supporter

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    This being the first year here I really didn't prepare properly last fall when I cleared my garden area. There was a lot of thistle in that space and I had hoped that with a lot of weeding, etc. that I could stay on top of it in my veggie garden, and eventually be rid of it. But, I guess it's not meant to be during the growing season because it's getting the better of me. This stuff is horrible and it's next to impossible to stay ahead of. I know there has to be a way to get rid of it for good and I'm hoping that you all can help.

    I'm thinking that in the fall, when I put the garden to rest for the season, that if I till everything under, spray (or drown) the whole garden area with round up, mulch, then cover with black plastic for the winter that it might kill off the thistle seed. Or should I spray, then till & mulch? Is that realistic or is there some other way to get rid of this stuff. I can't plant, due to rain and late freeze, until mid or late May. So if I keep it covered as long as possible would that kill the seeds so this stuff doesn't come back next year?

    Please, I need advice from all of you seasoned gardners out there.
     
  2. catahoula

    catahoula Well-Known Member

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    Tilling thistles will make them worse, they come back from the little bits and pieces of root. The farmers here spray them with Round Up, and we all pretty much agree you can't actually kill the thistles but you can get them to move. If you can spray them before they go to seed you are headed in the right direction . I know an old retired farmer that has been chasing the same thistle patch for forty years. Good luck.
     

  3. Spinner

    Spinner Well-Known Member

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    We don't use chemicals. We dig each and every one of them, then put them in a black plastic trash bag. We usually go out and dig them when the ground is wet from rain. The first year was hard, but it's fairly easy to keep up with them once they are cleaned out. The only ones we get now are brought in from neighboring pastures.
     
  4. mrglock27

    mrglock27 Well-Known Member

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    Pull them out before they go to seed. I think that will save you the most work in the long run.
     
  5. JanO

    JanO Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I've been pulling this stuff up since early spring, before planting. Thinking back, I've been dealing with them since this area was cleared last summer. (we had an excavator here to clear our land last year.) It's almost a full time job and the roots seem to go all the way to China. I'm sure they are breaking.

    In an article I read someplace they said that the heat of summer, under black plastic kills them by burning the seeds & any roots that are in the ground. But if I kept the garden under plastic I'd lose a season. That isn't feasable since we rely on the garden for our food in the winter. But, I started thinking that if I covered everything, except where the actual plants are that I might get away with it. Sounds like a lot of work doesn't it. I'm not sure how well it would affect the plants either. Has anybody ever tried that?
     
  6. rwinsouthla

    rwinsouthla Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Don't know if everyone has the same type of thistle that we have but you can pull them up before they get too big and use the stalk like celery in soups and stews. Just cut the leaves off, and the head, peel the stalk with a potato peeler and you'll be left with a hollow stalk. Slice it up and you have some roughage for a soup.
     
  7. james dilley

    james dilley Well-Known Member Supporter

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    You might want to buy A weed burner, like northern tools sell. And burn them things. If they come back up. Burn again..
     
  8. catahoula

    catahoula Well-Known Member

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    Well the black plastic and the weed burner and the digging them up and the planting buckwheat again and again and again and the Round Up, all these things will set them back and help to wear them out, but as you have discovered they have roots that are eighty feet long, they just move. Running a wheel hoe down my rows every day moved them out of my corn and back out into the hayground. It's a battle of wills, keep after them and you can move them out of the garden. Just be thankful you aren't trying to move them out of five hundred acres of wheat.
    But to answer your question we have a no till garden, we laid down straw and sheep poop over the whole garden in the late winter/ early spring, waited for all the weeds to come up sprayed the whole thing with Round Up, then cleared rows for seeds and transplants. The straw helps keep the weeds down and water in, the weeds that do come up are spindely and are rooted in moist soil so they pull easily. Our sheep poop powered garden has exploded out of the ground and has kept us pretty busy picking. Good luck and happy hunting.
     
  9. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    I'd suggest you mow everything down and cover with a thick layer of cardboard, straw, grass clippings and manure now and do it again in the spring. You can plant into the mulch layer if it is thick enough. Then whenever it pokes thru, cut down to the ground and pile on more mulch.
     
  10. Kee Wan

    Kee Wan Well-Known Member

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    My brother has had some luck with a combination of spotting with 2,4-D and burning. He goes out once a week with his sprayer of 2,4-D and just sprays the thistle.....and he seems to be winning. Where it's impossible to spray - because they are too thick and big and he can't even get there....he just burns.....and when they are small and start back, he starts to hit them with 2,4-D.....

    The really important thing is to not let them seed. THen it just starts over.....

    Good luck!
     
  11. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

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    Canadian thistles are a problem in the new part of our community gardens. I instructed everyone last year to keep shearing them off with a hoe every few days. By fall, there were none in sight. This spring, all were gone. Same situation this year in another addition with me ending up with 6 plots again filled with thistles. As they appeared, they were sheared off an inch or so below ground and never allowed to get more than a few inches high. It's important to hoe them off below ground level as the stems/roots "bleed" for awhile before trying to produce another shoot. Each time, the roots become weaker. Now the roots have almost run out of reserve energy and there are less and less of them. They will not be a problem next year!

    Martin
     
  12. BJ

    BJ Well-Known Member

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    We have 40 acres that we patrol frequently for thistles. If you see any and don't have your tools with you...just pull off the bud or the flower. That will keep it from going to seed.

    Then go get a hoe or pocket knife or any sharp instrument and shear off the main stem close to the ground. Use a shaker full of table salt and salt the freshly cut stem. It will kill the roots and the thistle is permanently gone without using harmful poisons.

    We put the thistles in old grain bags or black plastic and burn. But you must keep up the patrols for new plants. It's birds that eat the wild thistle seeds that spread them or if you let them go to seed...the wind will blow them once they become fluffy. But always, always, at least pull off the flower until you can get back to treat the main plant.

    Good Luck .... it will take time..but you can completely rid your farm of thistles :)
     
  13. ajaxlucy

    ajaxlucy Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I second what BJ said. A friend who grew up on an old-time farm in Ohio said it was one of her jobs as a kid to cut the thistle stem and sprinkle salt.
     
  14. lonelyfarmgirl

    lonelyfarmgirl Well-Known Member Supporter

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    do you think the salt thing would work on mulberry trees? Those things never die. As far as thistles go, I only have a very small place now, so I dont worry about eradication. My rabbits love to eat them.