The Q&A Archives: Thistle Problems

Question: Tall Canadian Purple Thistles have invaded our beaver pond meadow. A problem there but the seeds are being carried to our garden. BIG problem there. I want to lower the incidence of thistle seed spread. So what can I do organically to get rid of the thistles in garden and also get rid of most of them at the meadow? Is there something to plant that would provide Nature with the same function the thistles provide -- loosening soil, etc. that I can just toss out there and would compete with thistles? Nothing else but Mullein seems to like it there. Sandy, dry soil on hill going down to sandy moister area near pond. It is impossible to mow or cut unless I rent goats or mules. A possiblity. In the garden I want to stop them from getting past that little plant stage. I'm a barefoot gardener. Ouch. I have started a few apple trees and the thistles seem to like that area and the grass next to the irrigation pipes especially but they are everywhere!

Answer: Invasive species are indeed a problem. They are annoying in our gardens but they can do real harm when they outcompete natives in the wild. You are lucky in that there is a University of Minnesota Cooperative Extension office in your town. I am going to refer you there. They will have the latest info on combating invasives and suggestions for other plants for your region. They are in Park Rapids at 301 Court Avenue, the Courthouse, 732-3391. Good luck, and watch out for those bare feet!

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