Author Topic: Fighting fire with fire ?  (Read 420 times)

davee65uk

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Fighting fire with fire ?
« on: August 20, 2017, 13:05:43 »
A few years ago my allotment was riddled with bindweed. Now there is very little. During the last few years I've put a lot of manure on and every Summer have had a grand crop of sowthistle brought along with the manure. My question is this could I grow sowthistle - relatively harmless annual to keep down other weeds. I prpppose using it as a kind of green manure whenever a piece of land is empty for a bit - would this work ?

ancellsfarmer

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Re: Fighting fire with fire ?
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2017, 17:26:00 »
Yes, but there are better options for green manures, without the risk of being thought of as a habourer of vermin.
Apart from the usual options in the garden centre, this year I am using brown mustard seed, because of its reported efficiacy in sorting wireworm. Commercially its sown at 2kg/acre. I obtained 200gm packs from my friendly ethnic grocer for 99p each. Also its good for pickling. (They also had spirit vinegar, 5%, at 3.39 per 5 litres.)
Other useful, cheap options are wheat, lupinseed, sunflowers , all from the pet shop. If you have an area of  "waste" ground, why not 'grow and mow' any bulky green plant. The choice would depend on what you can get cheaply.Chickory, peas, beans etc. A use for suspect or surplus seed. The secret is to not let it seed!
Freelance cultivator qualified within the University of Life.

davee65uk

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Re: Fighting fire with fire ?
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2017, 08:01:34 »
Thanks. I think your idea is better and will look out for mustard seed at an alternative shop. We no longer have any garden centres around here and cannot get things like mustard, grazing rye or lime.

Vinlander

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Re: Fighting fire with fire ?
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2017, 08:06:35 »
I wouldn't use any kind of thistle as green manure - or any other plant that has wind-borne seeds.

Even if you religiously dig them in before they flower, your neighbours will be living in fear of when you don't, and any taproots that survive will put up flower shoots unexpectedly and catch you out, thus confirming their fears.

There are plenty of green manures with heavy seed that can't travel to neighbouring plots, but they are expensive to buy.

Perhaps the best exception is buckwheat, because it is a regular food and is widely available at under 4 per kilo. It has had its black husk removed but in my experience the germination rate is just as good as seed packets (it's very likely to be fresher seed). It makes a gluten free flour.

The same applies to fenugreek seed except they are smaller seed, so I'm not sure how far they travel. It also has a few minor allergy issues. On the other hand it can fix nitrogen - but it is unpredictable in this respect.

I use land cress as a green manure because it spreads itself each year that you let a few run to seed. It occupies many niches that would otherwise let real weeds in and it is a lot better than weeds because:

a) It is much easier to remove. Small ones do not survive hoeing (carpets are always small plants) and even large flowering plants can be pulled out easily in one go leaving nothing behind.
b) You know exactly when it will all run to seed together so you can hoe once after you've had nearly a year of cover.
c) The seeds only travel a metre or so each year.
d) It is good tasty food - large quantities can even be used in stir fries etc.

Cheers.
With a microholding you always get too much or bugger-all. (I'm fed up calling it an allotment garden - it just encourages the tidy-police).

The simple/complex split is more & more important: Simple fertilisers Poor, complex ones Good. Simple (old) poisons predictable, others (new) the opposite.

lottie lou

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Re: Fighting fire with fire ?
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2017, 08:08:41 »
I am trying buckwheat this year.  Purchased from a national health food shop approx. 2-50 per bag. Had to order it but arrived in store within a couple of days at no extra cost.  Natural buckwheat not the toasted that is.

Digeroo

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Re: Fighting fire with fire ?
« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2017, 09:40:27 »
Aha.  So that is what the guy whose plot is covered with thistles is doing?  It is green manure that got out of hand?
Thistles will not make you popular, and they are a noxious weed.

http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0ahUKEwjc8PHPh-3VAhXIh7QKHY-NCwgQFggoMAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.forestry.gov.uk%2Fpdf%2Frin274.pdf%2F%24FILE%2Frin274.pdf&usg=AFQjCNEHqzujtAnw_tiNQtzwb_ULSb4dOQ

I fancy growing buckwheat will try a health food shop.  Field beans are good too, the ones from Hodmedods germinate very well.  Sown now they will be improving soil all winter and be ready to eat the beans in May. 
Try getting bindweed to climb up elderberry sticks can kill it.  I once used an elderberry cane for beans, certainly killed the beans.

Try growing courgettes or pumpkins they do not like bindweed.  Mexican marigold is also supposed to kill them. 


« Last Edit: August 23, 2017, 10:00:04 by Digeroo »

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Re: Fighting fire with fire ?
« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2017, 09:40:27 »