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Hacking Down a Weedy Field  RSS feed

 
Steve Landau
Posts: 20
Location: Vermont
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I have a field which we are trying to grow some fruit trees. -

See photo linked here:

PICTURE_OF_TREE_IN_FIELD

The field has lupine, goldenrod, and other brambles, etc. which are very prolific. I need to scythe the area every 4 weeks to keep it under control.

I have used some woodchip mulch, but the plants grow thru it quickly. I don't want to use cardboard.

What are other options to suppress the other stuff growing in the field so I can plant more undesrtory plants.?

 
Michael James
Posts: 50
Location: Zone 5B: Grand Rapids, MI
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Steve Landau wrote:I have a field which we are trying to grow some fruit trees. -

See photo linked here:

PICTURE_OF_TREE_IN_FIELD

The field has lupine, goldenrod, and other brambles, etc. which are very prolific. I need to scythe the area every 4 weeks to keep it under control.

I have used some woodchip mulch, but the plants grow thru it quickly. I don't want to use cardboard.

What are other options to suppress the other stuff growing in the field so I can plant more undesrtory plants.?



I've heard of people using newspaper. I think 3-4 sheets thick with 3-4+ inches of wood chips was recommended. When the newspaper gets wet it forms an air tight seal suffocating the weeds. I haven't tried this personally, but I do plan to soon. I am interested to see if anyone else has a better idea since I would like to do whatever works best. (If you have a large area you can use those larger rolls of floor protection paper from one of the box stores.)
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
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Location: North Central Michigan
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nearest your trees use stout leather gloves to PULL OUT the brambles, roots probably are not all that deep..use a lawnmower in the path areas..the other plants are actually going to feed your soil so let them grow up until you need to replant the area then pull the ones in the areas you plan to plant and pop in the seeds and /or plants and use the pulled lupines or goldenrod as a mulch (unless of course it is in seed)..

you are fortunate to have good quality weeds that will feed your soil..minus of course the brambles..but remember..brambles do supply fruit if you allow this years canes to go to fruit..pull out all old canes and new canes where you want them gone though
 
Eric Toensmeier
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You could just plow it down and plant a cover crop for a full year to kill out the goldenrod and other undesirables. You could also use a portable electric fence and a sequence of goats, pigs, and chickens turn it into a bare field which could be again seeded to a cover crop. Winter rye is a good choice because it makes its own herbicide and kills out a lot of the weeds.
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
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Sheep will keep those plants down. What understory plants did you have in mind?


Steve Landau wrote:
The field has lupine, goldenrod, and other brambles, etc. which are very prolific. I need to scythe the area every 4 weeks to keep it under control
....
What are other options to suppress the other stuff growing in the field so I can plant more undesrtory plants.?
 
Cloey McCollom
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Be careful and research the plants you have before turning livestock out on it - sorry I don't want to offend anyone but I understand especially lupine is highly toxic to livestock.
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
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Shawna McCollom wrote:...I understand especially lupine is highly toxic to livestock.


Two important caveats. Don't turn livestock into a paddock that doesn't have lots of diversity. And make sure they have access to a good mineral mix which can mitigate some types of poisoning.

A third point is that some breeds are pickier than others. My sheep (Black Welsh Mountain) and my cows (Belted Galloways) are better foragers than other breeds. Unfortunately, good foragers tend to be good escape artists.

Dairy animals will need more protein.
 
Michael Bushman
Posts: 144
Location: Sacramento, CA
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A quick google search showed that both of the plants you listed have potential toxicity to livestock.

To make sheet mulching work, you need to provide materials that the plants you are trying to smother cannot grow through. To smother simple grass it doesn't take much but to smother out an perennial with a strong root system you are going to need a more than newspaper, cardboard is used for a reason. I have an infestation of nutgrass I am trying to smother out and two layers of cardboard are sometimes not enough.

Google the plants and find out when the best time to mow them is, most plants are the most vulnerable when they first emerge or right after they flower. That works far better on annuals than perennials where going after the roots are a much more effective, if far more labor intensive, solution.

Another thing to keep in mind is that a barrier like cardboard is easier for roots to penetrate downward than for a plant to grow up through. Another trick is to lay down the cardboard and enough fine mulch/compost/soil for a cover crop to grow. Again, easier said than done as that is a lot of labor and compost but it is very effective in choking out annuals.

Just planting a cover crop isn't going to do much unless you know when your "weeds" grow and when your cover crop grows as you need your cover crop to grow fast enough to shade out the weeds, weeds will win that almost every time. Its not simply a matter of throwing down rye or clover seeds and you are done.
 
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