The Q&A Archives: Control of Wild Grape Vines in Garden

Question: We purchased a 13 acre hill loaded with wild grape vines, black locust trees and black walnut trees. The only level spot was on top of the hill. We had to clear some timber for the garden. There were also many wild grape vines. My husband tilled the garden area this year. The wild grape vines were chopped up in the process. When I started pulling the new shoots some of the little pieces of root came with the stem. I was horrified to find out that such little pieces of grape vine root would actually root and grow a stem. I have a sea of grape vine shoots coming up all over my garden. Our soil is sugar clay but we mixed in 10 ton of peat and a pick up load of sand. The garden size is approximately 30 feet by 60 feet. I have read that Weed B Gon and Roundup are not to be used in vegetable gardens. At this point I would be willing to brush on the herbicide to get rid of these obnoxious vines. I might add that this location is about the only spot on our hill that is suited for a garden. If I keep hoeing and chopping off the grape vine stems, will they keep on regrowing. I assume that they will. I hope you have an idea or two for our problem.

Answer: The simplest way to deal with these persistent grapes is to cover your garden with black plastic mulch, and poke holes in which to plant your crops. You'll either need to put irrigation hose under the mulch or leave large holes in the plastic around the plants so moisture can reach the soil. This will at least limit the area in which the vines can sprout. Another option is a flame weeder. You don't actually set the plant afire, but the intense heat kills the green tissue. You'd have to use it regularly, since the roots will likely resprout, but eventually you'll exhaust their resources to produce more leaves. Hope these suggestions are helpful!

Also, are you aware that black walnut trees contain a toxin that prevents the growth of many other plants? Usually the toxin is leached from the soil a year after a tree has been removed from an area.

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