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Chop & drop what's gone to seed?

 
Posts: 6
Location: Poultney, VT (Zone 5a)
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I was unable to tend the beds and land for several crucial weeks. Now there's a lot gone to seed. I don't have relevant experience, so I'm asking what my realistic options are.

If I leave things I'm eating - like lambsquarters, amaranth, and velvet leaf - will the seed loads they drop commit those beds to those species in perpetuity?

I ask because I'd anticipate doing end of season chop-and-drop, but I note lots of people who mention chop-and-drop add something like, "as long as they haven't gone to seed."

Thanks in advance for any experience you might share.
a-walkway.jpg
[Thumbnail for Gone-to-seed-1.JPG]
A walkway
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Some of the grasses
Some of the grasses
 
pollinator
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Location: North Carolina zone 7
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I’m probably in the minority on this one. I chop and drop everything. If it’s something I eat (including weeds) I don’t care how many seeds drop. A great deal of my gardens are volunteer plants. Most things I like can be easily noticed if they regrow in spring. Things I don’t like are plucked out when small. When I plant I stomp down whatever’s there then walk on it while in the garden.
 
pollinator
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Look at it this way: Free mulch!
TNSTAFM?
 
pollinator
Posts: 631
Location: Canadian Prairies - Zone 3b
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From your post, I assume none of these plants are noxious or aggressive; some of those have seeds that can persist in soil 7-10 years.

That aside, it depends on whether you're willing to put in the extra time to weed this stuff out over the next couple of years. Extra mulch, or extra work and maintenance. It depends on how you prefer to garden.

I usually chop off nuisance seed heads and put them in a barrel of water to rot. That kills off the seeds, and what's left goes in the compost next year.

 
gardener & author
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Location: Ladakh, Indian Himalayas at 10,500 feet, zone 5
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Lambsquarters and amaranth love to grow in disturbed soil, and do a lot less in undisturbed permanent mulch. Also, probably like you, I don't mind having some of these, since they are edible when they grow vigorously, and are not too difficult to pull if I keep on top of things and pull them when they are small. So I tend to use them as mulch in the garden if they haven't gone to seed, or in deep mulch piles around trees or perennials if they have gone to seed. I don't know vetiver, but grasses sometimes have more ability to sprout and spike up through mulch, and are said to hinder the growth of trees.

Soaking the seed heads or the whole plants in water and straining it, to apply on mulch as a soluble fertilizer, is something I have been doing just for the past month or two. I hope it's killing the seeds so I can safely dump the detritus as mulch somewhere. . Currently I'm only using a spiky seeded weed that I would like to eradicate. I dumped out the bucket yesterday, but the seeds that had been down in the middle and bottom of the bucket were still hard and attached to the stems after at least a month, so I put it back in. It smells pretty bad.
 
gardener
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How much Lambsquarters do you need? How much Amaranth? It won't be lost even if you collect all of them to compost somewhere else. I don't mind some, but surely prefer a sea of miner's lettuce or a flush of salad seedlings to push up. I like to let those grow, while they seal the soil off of light, and therefore less undesired seeds sprout, and it's closed "canopy" is reducing waterevaporation. I thin it out and let the biggest ones go to seed, saving those seeds for next year.
I pull weeds out and dump them out of the growing beds on nearby wild patches. But surely it depends on what kind of gardener you are. You seem to be pretty wild, i personally do not accept grasses to grow anywhere on my path or in my beds. Grass is a fierce competitor, although i appreciate it's endurance and do see the mycelia around it's root zone, i haven't heard of any proof that letting it be is of any benefit to my veggies.
But anyway here i am writing to you about my own situation, maybe you're trying to establish a food forest on 10 acres and is this your wild zone, in which case i woudn't bother at all. I still hope reading a differing opinion has shed some light on your situation.
Good luck
 
Brendan O'Poultney
Posts: 6
Location: Poultney, VT (Zone 5a)
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Thanks so much for sharing your thought and practice, everyone! It’s definitely helping me develop an approach for my situation.

Scott Stiller wrote:I’m probably in the minority on this one. I chop and drop everything. If it’s something I eat (including weeds) I don’t care how many seeds drop. A great deal of my gardens are volunteer plants. Most things I like can be easily noticed if they regrow in spring. Things I don’t like are plucked out when small. When I plant I stomp down whatever’s there then walk on it while in the garden.


I’m inclined in your direction, so will at least chop-and-drop whatever lambsquarter I don’t use, though in seed. I like Rebecca Norman’s point that it prefers disturbed soil rather than mulch; so we’ll see what my mulch can mitigate! Chris is right: TISTAFM!

Douglas Alpenstock wrote:. . . Extra mulch, or extra work and maintenance. It depends on how you prefer to garden.

I usually chop off nuisance seed heads and put them in a barrel of water to rot. . .


Well put. And I’m going to experiment with the soaking method you and Rebecca use.
Experiencing my dialog with the Land - listening, intervening here, letting go there - is still very much shaping how I prefer to garden! So I appreciate you lending me some of your experience on my way!

Rebecca Norman wrote:. . . grasses sometimes have more ability to sprout and spike up through mulch, and are said to hinder the growth of trees.


Hugo Morvan wrote:. . . i personally do not accept grasses to grow anywhere on my path or in my beds. Grass is a fierce competitor, although i appreciate it's endurance and do see the mycelia around it's root zone, i haven't heard of any proof that letting it be is of any benefit to my veggies.


That’s what my gut says about grasses, too. I had been on top of pulling them while the clover fills in; but they’ve loved the weather these few weeks and got away. I’m not getting all of them, but I’m not dropping them either. (Now I know to soak before further composting.)
Rebecca, a smelly seed soak sounds . . . good!

Hugo Morvan wrote:. . . I still hope reading a differing opinion has shed some light on your situation.


Very much! Thanks for sharing, and best to you, too.
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