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podcast 163: bindweed

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Paul Wheaton talks to Mike around the campfire in Montana. Paul has proudly beaten bindweed.

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Tis the season! Bindweed everywhere...

I agree with Paul's thought in the podcast, though either my kids arent as naughty as the ones he associates with, or they arent as good of listeners. Tough choice. I do find that persistantly pulling the bindweed does weaken it and ultimately, it does not regenerate again (for a few minutes/days/weeks/years).

Lately I have been getting pretty zen about it, trying to really understand what this plant is all about. My sense is that it regulates air in the soil. Too much air (like from double digging in clay), or too little air (compacted soil), and bindweed comes to the 'rescue'. Thick mulch on the surface, too much air, bindweed inflitrates thick. When I get the soil structure perfect, so that the air spaces are ideal, bindweed goes away. Earthworms are the army that can repel bindweed.

As for animals, pigs root it up, but like a rototiller, they leave little bits, and these bits regrow with a vengence. End result, pigs hurt the bindweed, but it bounces back just fine in time. I have found than any soil disturbance is bad soil disturbance when it comes to bindweed, pigs (unfortunately) included. For my dairy cows, they like no plant more than bindweed. Seriously. They would rip it out hoof over fist all day long, ignoring lush red clover and orchard grass to eat bindweed. They graze it so agressively that they rip it out by its roots. Too bad cows arent too passable in the vegetable garden. Poultry of all stripes are worthless. No impact whatsoever.

So what have I found to work best? The seedlings are easy, and can be cultivated shallowly like any annual weed. But once you have established rhizomes, let bindweed fight bindweed. What I mean is, once it is there, let it grow a bit. Let the big bindweeds get bigger and stronger, outcompeting the smaller bindweed plants. Then come along and pull it. I find that the larger the bindweed plant, the easier it pulls. Like it has done its work, and allows itself to be removed. I see bindweed as a major tool of the great Gaia, working for health and fertility in the soil. If I fight and fight, it resists and resists. Bindweed wont quit until its job is finished, IME. But if I can get big plants, like one per square foot, then they are much easier to deal with. Not that one pulling is going to eradicate it, but like Paul says, successive weedings weaken it, and it will relent. The worse case scenario is a million little bindweeds growing from rhizomes. That's a mess.

Sorry to wax so philosophic, but bindweed is on my mind. What are you all finding to keep bindweed at bay? I am not into sheet mulches, plastic mulches, etc- sorry. I have pretty much eliminated it as a pest in my greenhouse. It is still there, but very managable. The 1/2 acre garden, well, let's just say its still got a place at the table. Working at it, working with it. Gaining.
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Location: Vashon WA, near Seattle and Tacoma
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My experience is exactly the same as Adam's. I have learned to live with bindweed. I regard it as a fodder crop, and I just let it get big, pull it, and throw it to the cattle.

I have searched online for any information on the nutritive value of bindweed, and can't find any. Any mention of bindweed's nutritive value *seems* to indicate that it is negligible or nonexistent. But don't tell that to my cattle; they love the stuff.
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sorry, I meant to say

I am that far (holding forefinger and thumb about 0.5 mm apart here) from weedkiller


one of you laid back guys is prepared to come round and manage it for me. You could be our Victorian hermit, live in a grass hut meditating and dash out each morning to pull it up.
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Location: Northern New Mexico, Latitude:35 degrees N, Elevation:6000'
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I've still yet to do enough research on this specifically but I was researching nootropic and adaptogen herbs a few weeks back and I came across information saying that bindweed is in the family of an herb which is a well known nootropic commonly used in India.

I'll just post a quick search from google to help you get started if you want to do the research.  Shankhpushpi
There is also this one, which is in the same Convolvulaceae family.  Evolvulus alsinoides herb nootropic

I think it's the flower that is used, but I still don't know much about it, as it seems to be quite uncommon to the west still as of yet, and I have lots of reading to do.

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