OT Old Git - help I need the number for herbicides anonymous

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Old Git,

Need that number quick, yesterday hauled six overflowing wheelbarrows (the big contractor size) of Canadian thisle, field bindweed, and quack grass from some or may garden areas... Today I went to the farm store and bought three sprays and a bottle each of vegitation killer, weed killer, and grass killer. In face of the plague of Canadian thisle and bindweed (I somehow mananged the quack grass in the past) my chemical yard and garden is fading fast... Help - words of wisdom needed.


-- jt_hebert (jt_hebert@hotmail.com), May 31, 1999


Git, I think you should consder "Roundup" (chemical name, Glyphosate). I've been using the stuff for 20 years, and it is very effective against both broadleaf and grass weeds. To my knowledge, no weed has developed resistance to Roundup. It is a systemic herbicide that kills the plants by moving to and killing the roots. If there is such a thing as a safe herbcide, then Roundup would be one. It is so safe that a form of it is used to control weeds in wetlands. As always, READ THE LABEL.

Diogenes Pedon

-- John A. Shaffer (jas11@psu.edu), May 31, 1999.

Sorry, jt, not clear what happened. Did you apply too much weedkiller? I think your best bet is to call your local Agricultural Extension Service agent, see if he or she can help. I don't use anything with --cide on the end so I don't think I can help you.

-- Old Git (anon@spamproblems.com), May 31, 1999.


Sorry I wasn't clear - I've been organic for a while now. Until about 3 year ago the only real weed problem I had to contend with was quack grass. But by pulling it up and getting as many runners as possible, I managed to keep it "under control" (if such a thing can be said of quack grass). During that time frame garden size expanded. Also, during that time Canadian thistle and field bindweed snuck into some of the garden areas. I have not been able to keep them under control by pulling - they regrow faster than I'm able to weed (and spread boy do they spread....)

Anyway I could handle the quack grass and varoious assundry other weeds but the 1,2,3 punch of quack grass, Canadian Thistle and field bindweed is overwhelming me and I'm ready to resort to chemicals...

I haven't sprayed anything yet. But as soon as that quackgrass, thistle, or bindweed shows its face - I'm all set to go. I don't want to spray those posions, I really don't, but I'm at my weeds end - I can't do any Y2K prep if weeding consumes all my summer. If I don't weed, weeds consume the garden...

That's why I'm looking for herbecides anon - I admit, I used to be a agricultural chemical addict, but I saw the error of my ways. But I'm falling off the wagon and I'm afraid once I start with spot treatments in garden areas, I'll do something really stupid like try to rid the lawn of dandelions.

The ag agents around here aren't of the organic persuasion and liberally recommend poisioning the environment. Was hoping you might have something up your sleeve...


-- john hebert (jt_hebert@hotmail.com), June 01, 1999.

jh - Never was straight on my grasses, so no thoughts there. I believe field bindweed is one that you DON'T want to pull up because you'll fracture the roots and make the situation worse.

Thought I had an answer a few years back to Canada thistle. I featured it in an edibles program. Figured if I cut off the branches, there would be the unthorny sections of stem that could be cooked like celery. Turned out to be similar to Major Major's problem with his Egyptian cotton glut - chocolate-covered cotton still tastes remarkably like chocolate-covered cotton. So it goes with creamed thistle stem. I thought I remembered that Canada thistle was an annual (and therefore could be controlled by pulling or mowing if not allowed to go to seed), but I may have that wrong. I'll try to remember to check for you. Are you being reinfected by neighboring properties?

I keep an organic garden, except that I believe there is an occasional role for glyphosate (especially where poison ivy is concerned), carefully spot treated, by paintbrush if necessary. The glyphosate formulations are actually pretty toxic, and one of the things that drinking water systems must test for, but it doesn't migrate in soil so is unlikely to reach the water table. (The wetland issue has to do with the greater toxicity of the surfactant, not glyphosate itself. And I believe it is no longer banned or limited in wetlands, just open water where it could spread.)

I'm very proud that I have essentially manually eradicated my lawn of several broad-leaved types, including dandelions. (It's an addiction, really, taking to my lawn with my dandelion weeder, and a clear sign I have too much time on my hands...)

-- Brooks (brooksbie@hotmail.com), June 01, 1999.

jh - One of my favorite wildlife books (Stokes Nature Guides - A Guide to Enjoying Wildflowers) has the following to say (sorry, not encouraging, but maybe understanding the natural history will help)...

"Almost all of our thistles are biennials. In the first year they are a rosette of spiny leaves... The next spring the flowerstalk grows from the center of the rosette, and by fall seeds have been matured and dispersed and the whole plant dies.

"A notable exception to this life cycle is Canada thistle. It is a perennial that starts as a rosette but then grows a flowerstalk, as well as underground stems, which rapidly spread out in all directions and produce new flowerstalks each year. The biennial species are generally found as isolated plants, whereas Canada thistle is found in colonies, with the plants often growing in radiating lines from a central point, reflecting their growth from the underground rhizomes. A single seed of Canada thistle can, over the years, fill a whole field with flowering stems, which are basically all one plant.

"This habit has made Canada thistle one of the most pernicious weeds in agriculture. The biennial species can be plowed under before they flower and thus controlled, but Canada thistle can often become worse with plowing, for each section of the rhizome that is cut up can potentially produce a new stem an more rhizomes. The only way to eradicate it from an area is to dig up all of the rhizomes and roots. The plant is also a pest in pastures for the spines keep the animals from grazing it, and so year after year, it just keeps taking up more pasture space...

"In the perennial species, the seeds germinate in spring or summer and grow a rosette of leaves. A flowerstalk may be produced from this rosette the same year. This dies back in fall and the plant overwinters as underground roots and rhizomes that grow many new flowerstalks the following year. The plant can continue in this cycle indefinitely as long as the habitat remains open and sunny."

Back to my suggestion to find a palatable recipe. (Just might work if Y2K hits hard - you could clue your neighbors into to C.T.'s gastronomic delights...)

-- Brooks (brooksbie@hotmail.com), June 01, 1999.


My experience with field bindweed says you are right on the money as far a breaking it off or, (heaven forbid) tilling. Its till, till, till and retill trying to kill it off. In of the beds with 6 inches of compost on top I pulled one and got so much root I measured it - 38 inches of spaghetti like curly fragile thing.

If the Canadian thistle is an annual I don't know where the seed is coming from - maybe I'm using the wrong name. This stuff spreads underground. You pull up a shoot here and a couple weeks later it come up where you pulled it out, and a half dozen other places for good measure.

My plan is to use the spray wand kind of like your paint brush technique - unfortunately there will be some overspray but a lot less than a general spray everything...

As far as dandelions - if you can't beat em, eat em. Much more appetizing than the celery subsitute base on your comments. Until recently I thought blossoms meant the end of dandelion greens, but I recently was told that after blooming if you rip the leaves off the new growth looses the bitterness associated with bloom time greens. Last of the blooms are now gone, I'll have to give it a try. (Heck, with over 2 acres dandelion removal, except from planned beds, just isn't going to happen)

Thanks for your thoughs.


-- john hebert (jt_hebert@hotmail.com), June 01, 1999.

Brooks, you have done it again! Great info. (We're probably related way back, by the way, Brookes is my maiden name.)

jt, have you thought about putting down clear plastic? You put it over the weedy area (or over your poison ivy, Brooks) and in pretty short order (especially in this heat) the weeds are roasted to death. I don't have a large garden, there are only two of us, so what I've done is put down landscape fabric. (The kind that looks like black fabric interfacing, rather than the plasticky kind.) This stuff allows in air and water but not enuogh light for most weeds. The few that do sprout can be easily pulled. I have a few inches of pine straw or pine bark mulch over the fabric, depending on whether it's a pathway or not (pine sttraw for the paths). I've done this right across the front lawn (scandalized the whole neighborhood!) and planted all kinds of stuff out there. In between the ornamental plants and shrubs (many of which produce berries and seeds for the birds) are lots of herbs I use for cooking (plus lemon thyme for mosquito repellent, lavender for moths and because I love it), and next year I'm planning to put in some ornamental edibles, like burgundy amaranth, lettuces, kale, and that fancy okra.

I figure if things get really bad and people come looking for garden veg, they won't recognize that stuff out front, they'll figure its flowers. I also plan to get Jerusalem artichoke tubers in the late summer-fall and put them out front too. Nobody will ever guess you can eat 'em. Thing is, I shall have to plant the artichokes in large pots because once they take hold they spread like crazy and are almost impossible to get rid of. But they'll still look like pretty flowers--sunflower family--rather than food. Might do the same with bamboo.

-- Old Git (anon@spamproblems.com), June 01, 1999.


Thanks,(I must have been replying at the same time you posted your followup). I agree with Old G, great info. Unfortunately, it confirms my worst fears - the C.T. really is a plant from hell. Between that and the bindweed I really do have my hands full.

Hopefully discrete treatment won't hurt my neighborhood frogs, toads turtles, salamanders, and snakes - its amazing what can be seen in chemical free lawn...


I like the plastic idea but I don't have the wherewithall to cut holes for the desirables. If I started over, I'd give plastic a try - newspapers (12 sheet thicknesses) didn't stop it, the geo-textiles I tried didn't stop it...

Your edible ornamentals is great. Hope you have room for some edible flowers in your plantings.

Hopefully O.G. doesn't revoke my subscription


-- john hebert (jt_hebert@hotmail.com), June 02, 1999.

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