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ridding fallow field of weed seed

 
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i'm open to any and all suggestions in turning hay field into a garden area,
in one field i've plowed and harrowed in buckwheat seed real heavy to try and choke out weeds. its nearing fall now and my blue ribbon weeds are towering through the buckwheat.
i plan on plowing now that leaves are falling and planting a winter cover crop
 
pollinator
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You'll never get what's in the seed bank in your soil. That you'll simply have to try and overgrow, as you're trying to do now with the buckwheat.

The management technique you might have success with, depending on scale, is simply to knock down the undesireables manually a bit before they go to seed. Flowering is actually encouraged, because then not only do the pollinators get their crack at them, the organisms expend much of their reserves in flowering, in preparation to go to seed.

I have read in several places where people run their chickens, or their chicken tractors, over the reaped section to pick up any loose seed, which has the benefit of feeding the chooks and manuring the land. If the stubble is grazed beforehand by some handy ruminant that likes that action, then waiting the standard three to eight day larval gestation period will net you a windfall of protein in their waste as well.

By far the best advice that I have heard, generally speaking, having to do with getting rid of problem plants is to change the soil conditions to make it inhospitable for them. If they like poor soil, make it richer. If they prefer alkaline, go acidic. If they like gravelly soil with too much drainage for anything else, perhaps add clay and organic materials to keep it wetter, longer, to nurture weed competition. If they specialise in breaking up hardpan, and you happen to have lots of hardpan, well, I'd actually let them do their thing until there's no more hardpan, and then they'll go away.

Some details about your situation would help, though. I am guessing from the buckwheat that your soil isn't exactly alkaline. Are you just referring to your weeds as blue ribbon because they're so successful, or are you referring to a type of plant? What "weeds" are growing? That could tell us what your soil is like, and what is going on that specific "weeds" are setting up shop.

I made reference above to letting some weeds do their thing in talking about tunnelling, deeply-taprooted pioneer species that break up hardpan. Identifying what your "weeds" are, and what conditions they prefer, could indicate what could be improved in those spots, and looking at how those weeds germinate, grow, and die could suggest what should be left, in the case of dynamic accumulators, nitrogen fixers, and hardpan breaking weed species, until their jobs are done.

Also, what is your assessment of the soil? Have you gotten it tested? What are the perennial problems throughout the season? Is it prone to waterlogging, dessication, cementation? Just plowing might compound any of these issues, especially if those issues were caused by repeated seasonal plowing in the first place. And if it lacks organic matter, waiting until there's some leaf drop before plowing might help that.

But let us know what you decide, and good luck.

-CK
 
bruce Fine
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the weeds i call blue ribbon because they are sooooo successful and there are vines everywhere, they look like morning glory's, and just a very diverse collection of weeds i've yet to identify, plus there is cudjoe trying to invade at the north edge. this plot is about 250'x100+'i have no chickens yet. predators have made it very difficult even to raise house cats that can roam outside. very rural area here surrounded by mature forest for the most part. it was at one time tobacco farm with very fertile soil
 
Chris Kott
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So where in the world are you? Ballpark it, I'm not looking for GPS coords. It'll make any following suggestions more likely to make sense for you.

The morning-glory-looking abomination is probably bindweed. The only good thing I can think to say about it is that it's kind of pretty, and probably a dynamic hyperaccumulator.

Are you there full-time? If not, animal ownership can be problematic, especially with high predator pressure.

If you're there regularly, there are some livestock guardians that do well with regular human visits. I would go LGD, in pairs at least if they're alone. Some would suggest a donkey or a llama, or both. Just don't get two llamas, or they self-associate rather than adopting all the other animals as part of the herd.

If you're not ready to get animals on the land yet, I would definitely overseed with green manure crops, in polyculture, and structured for maximum mutual benefit.

I would suggest taking your project in segments, with a size and scale based on what you will be able to work next season. This will let you concentrate on a smaller piece, to put more attention or work or money into transforming that one piece, and to see change and returns faster on that one piece. It will act like a spreading island of change, an oasis of fertility succoring the soil life you want to spread outward, and taking with it the changes to the soil that will make it inhospitable for the plant species you want gone.

It can also act as a soil life bioreactor, nurturing all the soil life that does all the underfoot, hardly-ever-seen crucial work of turning dirt into healthy, living soil. Those living elements will move back and forth over your project boundary, spreading fertility outside of that zone and making the change easier to realise.

I would seriously consider reading over Dr. Bryant Redhawk's Epic Soil Thread wiki. There's so much information packed into there about soil, you may never need to ask another question, ever again (though you might die of old age before you reach the end).

-CK
 
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There are two ways to attack this, and I think I would try both.

The first you are trying: Till it until you kill it! I would do that, and then plant winter rye at 100 pounds to the acre this time of year.

The second is something you have may not tried: Fertilizer. What you have is soil that is making the weeds thrive. It is short on N, P, or K, and probably has high N, P, or K. There are 27 different combinations that could be, So the best bet is to make for ideal growing conditions for your garden, and the weeds will then be stunted.

I had this issue too, and I would not believe it unless I saw it with my own eyes. For me it was milkweed, a toxic plant for my sheep, and yet it was prevalent in my pasture. I got rid of it by giving it what the soil lacked, in my case phosphorous and potash. In two months it was gone, and never came back.

You also want to get your soil to the right PH levels. That is because without the proper PH levels, the plants are unable to uptake the fertilizer you give it. So this may mean lime or sulfur depending on what it has for PH levels currently. You have to get you PH right before you add fertilizer (manure of the right concentrations) or it is just wasted money.

The good news is, a $12 soil test will tell you what you need to do. Make it what it ain't, and your problem will go away.
 
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Cut op up.  Heap it up. Cover it up. Later uncover it and rake out the perennial roots of the morning glory and burn them. Then repeat.
 
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Sorgham-Sudangrass, oats, fieldpeas and daikon radish could do the trick for you.  All are fairly inexpensive and a good covercrop mix which can help improve the soil at the same time.  Both oat and Sudan grass have chemicals which inhibit seed germination of weeds and both normally overwinter and come back strong in the spring.  Switch to no till and you should be good to go after that.
 
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bruce Fine wrote:i'm open to any and all suggestions in turning hay field into a garden area,
in one field i've plowed and harrowed in buckwheat seed real heavy to try and choke out weeds. its nearing fall now and my blue ribbon weeds are towering through the buckwheat.
i plan on plowing now that leaves are falling and planting a winter cover crop


I had a similar problem. One thing about buckwheat is that it is supposed to be used in spring through summer and then you need multiple plantings as buckwheat is a fast grower so instead of just choking it out your also killing all the weeds that do grow and compete well with the buckwheat BUT it didn't have time to set seed before tilling in 1st crop and planting the 2nd crop of buckwheat. Repeat this through summer and the more times you till in the buckwheat the more biomass your adding to the soil and lowering the weed seedbank. This will not get rid of all weeds but will drastically reduce them. I personally used iron-clay peas instead as no local feed n seed stores carried buckwheat but the idea and use was similar. Though because of the size of my equipment I had issues with it being too long of runners on the peas even after cutting it down with a brush-hog. I learned it needed to be cut 2-3 times to make sure all the runners were chopped so it didn't clog up my disc. What kind of weeds besides the blue ribbon are you fighting (it sounds like binding weed here)(blueish to purple morning glory type flowers). As if your fighting a summer weed then fall or winter cover crops don't need to then be used to fight weeds. Sometimes its easier to change conditions than to fight the weeds as some weeds do well in acidic soil so add lime and plant crops that like a pH closer to 7. Or other weeds that like damp, wetlands, making these areas drain better can eliminate the weeds then.
 
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