I used to live in town, but in my (and my families) effort to live more sustainably, we have moved to the country to find room to play around, garden, hunt and live.
However, the land we are renting it riddled with Canadian Thistles. I live in Alberta Canada, zone 3b I think. I have read that a person can cultivate the land, and seed bukwheat over the area. Buckwheat, being so prolific, grows in thick and drastically reduces the amount of Thistles. Done over years, the land will become more fertile from buckwheat being cut down and laid as mulch, (can also be harvested for food crop) and the CT find that they don't like the area so much. Once the thistles are under control, the land becomes usable for other plants. Another added benefit being that the buckwheat will attract bees, birds and deer. Id like to under seed with clover for the Nitrogen production.
The reason I am writing you guys is that Id like to deal with this organically rather than spray (which is what all my neighbours would like to see) and Id like to know what you guys think of this approach. The land was previously used for horse pasture.
Thank for your time, however im looking for information on using buckwheat specifically. I didnt see any posts regarding that. I want to use buckwheat because of its destinct flavour in honey and deer attracting qualities.
I cant speak from experience to the buckwheat idea, though it certainly sounds plausible.
I have shared my thoughts on thistle control in the other threads Miles linked to.
What I would say, for sure, from experience, is that herbicides NO DOT eradicate Canadian Thistle. My neighbors too love that approach. Every year. Year after year. See what I mean? It doesnt work, they just keep spraying every single year. So if that's a solution, I am mighty confused myself.
I don't think tilling will stop Canada thistle. I have Canada thistle in an area around my house. One year I dug down 1 ft and took out all of the rhizomes for that depth of soil. It came right back.
Stacking several layers (3+) of cardboard over an area will slow it down dramatically. I have been able to wipe it out in areas by layering cardboard and then going back and pull it from the areas where it wove through the layers of cardboard. The nice thing about the cardboard method is that it forces the plant to make really long roots to get to sunlight but also allows you to just lift a section of cardboard and remove a lot of root mass easily. After a couple weed pullings the plant is usually running out of energy and eventually can't make it back to the sunlight. You have to stay on top of it though. This method also builds the soil in an area. I'll generally put wood mulch on top of the cardboard and the cardboard will be completely gone the following year.
Obviously, this method is a little too manual for a field.
Vinegar can screw it up pretty well and can even kill it if you spray it after every rain and don't let the plants get established. I don't prefer this method because it isn't free and it less effective.
I'd imagine you could wipe the thistles out in an area with a layer of thick black plastic. That would probably kill a bunch of soil microbes too though.
CT are such prolific seed producers that there is no practical way to remove all of them from the seed bank. You HAVE to transition the soil through to favor something else.
Buckwheat should be able to do it, it has a good root structure. Chop and drop any thistles that are up, then plant. rinse and repeat.
I would add a taproot miner/tiller (radish, chicory, etc) as part of the last cycle of the fall.
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I am not so sure BuckWheat will deter any weeds, including thistle.
However, I do know that rye will stop weed seeds from germinating so it is often the first thing old time farmers put down.
The 2 types of rye are Annual, which dies if you have a hard freeze, so you need to cut it prior to it seeding, and, Perenial rye, which also has 2 sub species- Endophyte free and Endophyte ... Not free.
having any of these types of rye will reduce the weeds from germinating, so, if you get the Perenial rye, most weeds will disappear over time as most are annual and many are perennial for several years.
if you let the rye go to seed, then you will see the rye take over.
I look for endophyte free since the endophytes can be toxic to runament animals. It's more expensive, but since I raise foraging sheep, worth it.
I don't know about the buckwheat side of the issue, but Canada thistle (which is actually an import from the Old World), is a plant that has adapted to cultivation. Cultivating the soil chops the roots and greatly spreads the thistles. In your case, it sounds like the thistles might be there as a result of overgrazing by horses. They will eat the grass again and again, giving opportunity for the thistles to spread. Someone may have addressed the issue already, but grazing with sheep or goats could have the opposite effect, knocking back the thistles and favoring the competition. Good luck with it. Canada thistle can be a challenge!
Location: Upper Midwest - Third Coast - USDA Zone 6a/b
posted 4 years ago
I've heard anecdotal evidence that sudan grass is great at smothering out thistle. Also, old timers recommend cutting the plant off just above the ground then pouring table salt on the cut and exposed stem. You could also paint herbicide on the stem or probably use 20% vinegar. This is labor intensive but allows you to pinpoint the herbicide usage.
Pull some soil samples and send them off for a complete analysis. Logan Labs is a good place for soil analysis.
Next, take a look at this book: http://www.acresusa.com/weeds-and-why-they-grow Because most of the plants we consider weeds are opportunistic, they take advantage of specific niches caused by disturbance, compaction, unbalanced soils, etc. You may find much more success when you balance your soil in addition to these more mechanical methods of suppression.
When I get home I'll take a look at my copy and see what influences canada thistle.
Willing to find out what 'impossible' means.
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