All Things Gardening forum: 4000sq/ft of thistle

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Timinohio
Mar 29, 2017 9:22 AM CST
Because of my job last year taking up 14 to 16 hours worth of my day, I was unable to maintain my garden towards the end of the year and it grew up and thistles, Head and Shoulders High. The amount of seeds that are coming off of these and landing on the ground is incredible. I put a lot of work into preparing this area but now I feel it's hopelessly lost. I'm looking for suggestions as to how to clear this area of Thistle and prevent the seeds from growing. There is a tremendous amount of thistle seeds on the ground now.
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Name: Critter (Jill)
Frederick, MD (Zone 6b)
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critterologist
Mar 29, 2017 10:02 AM CST
Wow. I've had something similar happen, so I feel your frustration. Don't despair -- you'll get your new garden back!

Are you really dealing with thistle? Those stalks just don't look thorny enough. Those seed capsules on the ground look more like burdock (thistle seeds have fluff), but burdock stalks don't have those big split seed capsules... milkweed does, though.

I'd suggest taking samples to your local extension service office for ID and suggestions. Since you don't have "good" plants in the ground, you can use nonselective measures like glyphosphate herbicide or -- and this would be my choice -- fire. Sweeping the ground and new growth with a "weed dragon" type of agricultural flamethrower should sterilize a lot of the seeds as well as shocking plants enough to kill back to the root. You could also see if a controlled burn is feasible (get advice!).

Depending on the size of the area, one or another method of "solarizing" (covering the ground with black plastic for example) can heat up the soil enough to kill a good portion of weed seeds, after you've killed the thistles. Additionally, you may have to use a pre-emergent herbicide in the area -- preen, corn gluten, something along those lines -- and not just for one year.

You've got a war on your hands, but you can win it. 20/20 hindsight -- chop/mow down weed stalks so they can't make seeds!
I'm learning to dance in the rain. Thank you, Sally & Chris & Sharon.
Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Mar 29, 2017 10:27 AM CST
Shoulder high !๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ˜ฎ! Yikes !
Nasty stuff. I know !!!
I feel for you buddy. ๐Ÿ˜ฌ๐Ÿ˜ฌ๐Ÿ˜ฌ
I would find out how much someone with a tractor / disc would charge. Bury as many seeds as possible !
Or ! buy a suit of armor, and rototill.
Then switch to no-till gardening.
Find a tree trimmer, that wants to get rid of there tree chippings.
Spread, 3 or 4 inches out, and dont till chips under. That will keep weed seeds from sprouting, and build soil up. Add more chips, on top, but not as thick, every year. 1st year, you'll need extra nitrogen, since wood chips will depleate it from soil.
BONUS ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜ No more tilling or fertilizer !!! Thumbs up
๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž
Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.

Timinohio
Mar 29, 2017 12:45 PM CST
Well I was hoping to keep from knocking all these seeds onto the ground. But I don't think that would have been possible, they're doing a fine job of falling on the ground on there own. I had to take the rider to them, went around in circles about a hundred times. I blew everything to the middle, im going to try an burn it, hopefully that will get most of those seeds. My last question is how long does a propane torch have to go across the seed to kill it, like a second? Two? The midle part should smolder pretty good getting all of those seeds, but what about the perimeter?
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Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Mar 29, 2017 1:32 PM CST
Cant burn weeds or most other stuff hear in California.
Torch, we can do. Weeds only take a second or two. Seeds ??? I hope someone comes along to tell you.

If your mower sucks. Ha ha !๐Ÿ˜!
You probably got most seeds.
Butt ! A few seeds sure can GO !!! A long, long ways ! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ˜ฎ!

Do like Jill suggested. Not the Preen, its to dog-gone expensive. Especially for 4,000 sf.
The 40% corn glutten meal. At farm supply store. Its a cattle feed supplement, resonable cost. Nursery stuff is expensive.
Google corn glutten, to see how much to apply. It is pre-emergent, plus adds nitrogen to soil.
Even better reason to get wood chips and go no-till ! Thumbs up !
๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž


Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
Name: Gary
Wyoming MN (Zone 4a)
hostasmore
Mar 29, 2017 3:03 PM CST
Welcome Timinohio. I am really curious as to what those are? They do not look like any thistle that I have ever seen. I was thinking , like Phillip, of using a leaf blower/mulcher to clear the seeds from the ground. They look to be quite large. Good to see that you are taking on the job of reclaiming your garden space!
Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Mar 29, 2017 4:22 PM CST
@hostasmore
Gary : From what i can tell on my phone pic. I dont know that there called, but they grow wild in foothills around hear. Especially around resivores , as water drops. The seedhead on tips are like giant berries, hard with needle like thorns all over. UGLY !!!
๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž
Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Mar 29, 2017 5:03 PM CST
Is it Teasel?
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Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
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stone
Mar 30, 2017 7:25 AM CST
I'm seeing datura and cocklebur.
The datura shouldn't be any big deal, I've always encouraged a few of the plants for the flowers... Those cocklebur, though.... I wouldn't be too excited about growing...

The most important part of fighting an infestation.... Is to first correctly identify what you have....

I haven't been in an area prone to cocklebur in decades.... When I googled "cocklebur control" the measures recommended were as drastic as I remembered....
Burning, Preemergents, and post emergents were recommended.... As well as particular caution to prevent seed setting.

Seems to me that simply keeping them mowed between and outside the rows should be sufficient... That and some quick hoe work... All summer long.
Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Mar 30, 2017 8:16 AM CST
@stone. Pow #!!! You got it ! Hurray! Cocklburrs ! D'Oh!
The only thing good about them is.... ๐Ÿ˜....

To throw one at your friend ! and watch it stick it there clothes ! Rolling on the floor laughing
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Timinohio
Mar 30, 2017 9:23 AM CST
Yes! Cocklburs! Positively positively identified through Google search. It was a ton of those, and even more of these.....
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Like i said I drove the rider around on them for a few laps, mulched them as best as i could to the center and lit all the debris, it burned through the night. So i bet all the seeds that were in that pile are distoryed, but concerned about the rest of my garden. It's doubtful all of the seeds have been removed or placed in the Middle where the majority of things were burned. I'll take my propane torch to the rest of it and have to keep up with weeding for the next year or two. Thank you all of you for your help.
Name: Critter (Jill)
Frederick, MD (Zone 6b)
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critterologist
Mar 30, 2017 10:58 AM CST
Hurray! Hurray! There's a weed I don't have in my yard!

Sounds like you have a good start and a "battle plan."

Hope you have time to play in your new garden this year! Your soil looks enviously rich. Thumbs up
I'm learning to dance in the rain. Thank you, Sally & Chris & Sharon.
Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Mar 30, 2017 11:56 AM CST
Using a torch to burn the seeds seems like a good idea. Good luck and hope for the best.

I'm thinking that tillilng the soil to bury the seeds will only delay the problem. Buried seeds will come back to bite you later.

Additionally, if you spread a pre-emergent (such as Preen or corn meal gluten) you can stop the germinating seeds from surviving. Apply it again in 3 weeks; repeat a few times as needed. As long as you are planting plants and not planting seeds in the garden this will work for you.
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Timinohio
Mar 30, 2017 8:06 PM CST
Stone, you nailed them both. I over looked where you named the datura in your post, but your right on both accounts, thankyou very much.

That stuff is toxic as all get out! Blinking one of my fields thats 1/3 acer was completely covered in it the year after they tore down a old barn, and i was mowing it! With all its juices flying all over me! (Before flowering stage) I coulda been killed Blinking Crying

This spot thats my garden was a horse paddock for decades. When i moved in it was still pretty raw mud. I let grass grow on it for the first too years then tilled it and its been a garden for 2 years also now. Its really clayie (clayy, clayey... Glare )

As far as the pre-emergent herbicide, i guess i could do that over most of the garden, but i do grow some direct sow things like beans and cucumbers.

Id like to thank you all for the help and advice. You've all helped me out a ton. There is a great group of people here, im glad i came, and i hope to be able to help others out like iv been helped. Thank You!
Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
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stone
Mar 31, 2017 6:55 AM CST
Timinohio said:Stone, you nailed them both. I over looked where you named the datura in your post, but your right on both accounts, thankyou very much.

That stuff is toxic as all get out! Blinking one of my fields thats 1/3 acer was completely covered in it the year after they tore down a old barn, and i was mowing it! With all its juices flying all over me! (Before flowering stage) I coulda been killed!


Actually....
Datura isn't nearly as toxic as some of the hysterics would insist.

The kids have been trying to get high on it for years.... Really not any fun at all, they usually don't repeat.

As far as worrying about getting juice on you....
Not to worry....
The only problem is when I cut closely related brugmansias down with a chain saw.... And get saw dust and juices in my eyes.... Makes it difficult to drive when your pupils are all enlarged... It's best to wear eye protection...
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
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Weedwhacker
Mar 31, 2017 8:12 AM CST
This might be a crazy idea -- but I think I would actually encourage the seeds to sprout by watering the area, then spray with Roundup.
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Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Mar 31, 2017 10:50 AM CST
40% Corn glutten meal from farm supply. Its cattle feed supplement.
It's what preen is, but a fraction of cost.
๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž
Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
Name: Keith
West Babylon, NY (Zone 7a)
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keithp2012
Apr 1, 2017 1:30 PM CST
Timinohio said:Because of my job last year taking up 14 to 16 hours worth of my day, I was unable to maintain my garden towards the end of the year and it grew up and thistles, Head and Shoulders High. The amount of seeds that are coming off of these and landing on the ground is incredible. I put a lot of work into preparing this area but now I feel it's hopelessly lost. I'm looking for suggestions as to how to clear this area of Thistle and prevent the seeds from growing. There is a tremendous amount of thistle seeds on the ground now.
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You should sell the seeds for money!
Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
Apr 2, 2017 12:45 PM CST
Datura is not a problem but the cocklebur will be annoying for awhile.
Be extremely thankful it was not thistle or you would have just increased the crop for next year.

I do not know how far along you are but before I had a metal burner I use, I used to dig a depression in the garden and get a good hot wood fire going and then pile the garden debris on there.
I use a metal burner now as burning is technically illegal but even though I still burn off the garden debris on occasion, minus hole, I just set the garden on fire in spring or fall, the metal burner is not likely to cause problems as I can burn wood in there legally.
[Last edited by RpR - Apr 2, 2017 12:48 PM (+)]
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Name: Deb
Pacific NW (Zone 8b)
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Bonehead
Apr 2, 2017 12:54 PM CST
Mow mow mow. That has been our tactic for Canadian thistle, burrs, and nettles. It takes a couple seasons, but if you can keep the plant from setting seed, it will eventually die out. Or goats. They eat just about anything right to the ground.
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