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Permaculture value of bindweed?  RSS feed

 
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Pete:
Bindweed, like buttercups, are very aggressive in low calcium environments. I also live in the Portland, OR area. Almost everyone's yard here is low in calcium, due to our heavy rainfall in the colder months. Like others have said, bindweed is bringing calcium to the soil surface with its deep roots. When you cut the plant, what you cut is high in calcium, and will replenish your soil with calcium. Nature is trying to heal your soil. Over time, nature will heal your soil. If you want it done more quickly, add ag lime, which is among the cheapest of soil amendments. Your soil is almost surely also acidic. Ag lime will help with that too. The calcium will help all of your plants grow better. When I added ag lime/calcium, my buttercups slowed down.
John S
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They are also very aggressive in high calcium environments... our subsoil/bedrock is pure chalk and the bindweed is rampant.
 
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hau, Ivan, the following links will get you started on the nutritional value of bindweed also known as morning glory or lambs tongue.

study number one

study number two

medicinal uses
 
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My chickens don't eat bindweed, but the bindweed provides habitat for insects and other arthropods. The chickens eat those!

And since bindweed shades the soil it makes life easier for the earthworms below. The deep roots bring up moisture to make it green when everything else is brown. And the chickens would eventually kill the bindweed if they were left in high density for a long period of time, because it is moister under the mat, and they like to dig in moist soil- here in our dry conditions. But it would take a LONG time for them to kill it, or maybe it would just move itself out of the chicken enclosure with those horizontal roots.

About the agricultural lime, it is very detrimental to overall soil microbiological health, in that it adds salts to the soil, and may contribute to compaction and the development of anaerobic conditions.

I have alkaline soil. I have not had it tested, but I've seen alkalai on the surface of my neighbor's place. It is not an uncommon sight around here, especially in un-irrigated areas. So, it does not mind high or low calcium, and it does not mind acid or alkaline soil.

This plant has incredible survivability! Couldn't we capture that strength somehow?



 
Bryant RedHawk
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hau, Thekla, there are many good permaculture uses for bindweed (morning glory) the first and foremost good use is as a ground cover to hold soils in place, it excels when used in this manner.

It also does have medicinal uses for both humans and animals ( check the last link in my previous post in this thread) and it has nutritional value in the immature stages, the nutritional values go down as it matures.
It can also be used as a living fence in conjunction with true fencing, it hides the wire fence quite well since it is a vine.
The first thing to recognize about this "noxious weed" is that while it can be a bother, it can be managed if one is willing to remain vigilant about keeping it in control by nipping the flowers so it can't spread by seed distribution.

When cut short and the vines dried, it can then be incorporated into compost.

Ruminants seem to be the animals that enjoy eating it.
It is one of the primary plants in reclamation of land by the Earth Mother, showing up in the first stages of reforestation and persisting until the canopy takes away the sunlight it needs to grow and reproduce.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Hi Bryant,

I did look at all the articles you posted. I liked the ones that provided nutrient information. No wonder the goats like it! I saw it has some medicinal uses, but I did not see any actions not provided to me by other plants I grow.

I'm glad you mentioned the idea of drying the plant material before composting. That's helpful to me!

I, for one, would be very hesitant to encourage it to grow on a fence. Not that it is not exactly as you say, but I doubt it would be polite, and stay on the fence. I expect that giving it a place to really flourish, it would build its underground system, and expand its territory into neighboring areas. I could see how that would be a good thing if I had rotational grazing paddocks on both sides of the bindweed covered fence. In the areas where I've concentrated my efforts to develop the soil and establish pasture, there is no bind weed. Interesting! The seed is there, it germinates in other locations. I get my irrigation water from the Gunnison River, and I think there will always be seeds for bind weed entering my property.

In applications other than a fence between rotational grazing paddocks, the job of keeping it from going to seed would be beyond me. And that's a risk, except that in my case there will always be seed.

When I plan my systems and put them in motion, I look for things that will not add labor, things that left untended would not develop into a new challenge. I think for the bind weed to improve the soil so much that it gave way to newer plant communities would take upwards of 50 years if not centuries, depending on what else was happening. I'm looking for applications for bind weed that are provided by other plants, at less risk to me, with less labor involved.

When I wish for an application for bindweed's inherent attributes, what I'm wishing for is the situation in which I say "go for it! do your best! give me all you've got!". Most everything on my place gets that endorsement.

As Cassie said, it's a rich thread, and maybe that's something bindweed gives us, a chance to really think! Yay bind weed. I love to think. And I wonder why you don't grow in my rotational grazing areas.... more to think about.
 
Michael Cox
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My problem with these conversations of "the value of bindweed" is that for every situation people have discussed I can think of alternative species that provide equal or better benefits than the bindweed and without the added liability. Permaculture is all about species selection to make sure the systems we build and design are sustainable in the long term. Any system that tolerates bindweed in managed areas is simply asking for relentless labour inputs.

Even in our orchard/meadow area where you think it would be low labour investment, neglecting the trees and weeding for a short period has led to bindweed climbing trees and pulling branches and stems down to the ground. I have two apple trees that are now growing near horizontal at about 2ft above the soil as a result. Maybe it "builds soil" around those trees - but the comfrey I established more recently has had a much bigger impact.

On fencelines - bindweed will grow up fences for sure, but where is the yield? Why not plant a mix of berries and edible vines along the same space? You don't need to eradicate it there, but bindweed makes harvesting harder. I've had redcurrant bushes so tangled that we ahve had to cut the bindweed before we could reach the fruit.

In annual beds it climbs your plants and smothers them - clover in the same setting stays fairly compact and has the benefit of adding nitrogen.

I'm all for the notion of "the problem is the solution"... it has helped me in the past. But sometimes the problem is just a problem. Although perhaps one that we might tolerate more as permies than conventional gardeners might.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Michael, I was not suggesting planting bindweed on purpose, more along the lines of managing it when you already have it.

I personally hate morning glory, always have and always will, it is a bane on human gardening as far as I am concerned.
However, if you have it, you must deal with it in the most useful ways possible. That is just good permaculture and sense.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Thanks Michael,

That's what I was trying to say, or at least it matches what I think about bind weed, the plant. It is more trouble than it is worth, and it has not done anything for me that another plant has done better and causing fewer problems.

Thekla
 
John Saltveit
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Thekla McDaniels says, "About the agricultural lime, it is very detrimental to overall soil microbiological health, in that it adds salts to the soil, and may contribute to compaction and the development of anaerobic conditions. "

I was referring to the OP and myself, who, as I said, both live in the Portland, OR area. How does calcium contribute to the compaction? It's actually quite the opposite. Calcium opens up the soil, so more air can go through it, and organic material can be digested. This is highly beneficial in our wet clay soils. It may not benefit an already alkaline soil, but that's not what I or the OP were talking about. We live in very different areas. Our soils desperately need calcium. Our climate is a densely growing rainforest. Getting more organic material is super easy from many sources, and with organic material in the soil, ag lime is clearly a long term benefit to our soils. Several plants have flowered and fruited after liming that wouldn't before. This is the same material as putting clam shells on your soil, which I also do.

What damaging salts do you think harm the soil life? It leads to the opposite of anaerobic conditions by opening up the soil.

I see how you wouldn't want to add it to your soil, but it's very beneficial to my soil and that of the OP.
John S
PDX OR
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Hi John,

I don't know what the OP is, or PDX. Sorry.

And I will have to look up in my class notes what agricultural lime does that is detrimental, the way the teacher explained it. I know it acts to-- what do they call it "flocculate" the clays, and that you do want that. I think it is a matter of getting the calcium in there and flocculating it without adding the lime, because of something else that comes into it with the lime. I'll look it up, but it might take me a day or two.

One of the ways it is different from oyster shells is that the shell is in large chunks, and the calcium carbonate of the shells breaks down slowly, as opposed to the agricultural lime I am familiar with. Maybe you have something other than the fine powder.

You are really helping me learn my stuff here, by asking about that.

Thekla

 
Michael Cox
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"OP" = "Original Poster"

The person who started the thread....
 
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So, anyone have suggestions of calcium-accumulating plants that are *not* also smothering, nearly invincible demonspawn?


Theckla, PDX=Portland Oregon, it's the airport code.

Fairly sure that ag lime comes in pelletized as well as powdered, which supposedly extends the timeline from a 2-3 year sorta thing to a ~10 year sorta thing. Not sure if it's common.

I've heard permaculture instructors in my area(west coast Canada, north of John, but similar environment) rant about the evils of dolomite lime, but they were fine with ag lime. I'd be interested to see what details you have on the downside, and whether it's applicable to our area as well as yours.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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So, here is my best explanation re the "detrimental effects" of liming the soil, despite the short term gain of flocculating the clay:

Without the appropriate soil bacteria and fungi, the calcium does not remain in the soil, it leaches right on through, which requires further applications over time. In parent material without any living bacteria and fungi, it actually takes calcium with it when it goes.

So the lime itself is just as you say, it is "good" for the soil, and flocculates the clay, opening the soil structure at the microscopic level.

But, how is it being applied? Tilling actively kills soil fungi, bacteria, protozoans and so on. Which works against the soil's ability to hold on to the calcium it needs to remain flocculated.

Research done by Elaine Ingham showed that with live fungal biomass and bacterial biomass added to pure mineral parent material, none of the calcium applied (from oyster shell leachate) passed through. In the same pure sterile mineral material alone, 5% more calcium came out than was applied, with all appropriate controls for presence /absence of killed organic matter and other variables.

Further, if the soil microorganisms are present and in balance, once the clay is flocculated, the micro organisms will continue to mine and deliver the amounts of Ca+ required to maintain the clay in its flocculated condition, while they also build the microaggregates through out the clay parent material. The presence of humus in the soil, once it gets there, provides buffering, so that the low pH is also no longer an issue to the plants.

So, I made an assumption that lime is being reapplied at intervals, and that it is being tilled in. It is the tilling that is detrimental to the soil micro organism community, and to rectify conditions past practices have created, lime would only need to be applied in conjunction with the re-introduction of the microbial community which, once established, would take care of calcium needs and pH concerns in perpetuity. You've helped me clarify that for myself, and I thank you.

I am currently learning as much about this as I can. Elaine Ingham PhD is - I think- the principle scientist of the Soil Food Web, which is based in Corvallis, Oregon. That's another assumption. They have offices around the world, but I think the base is there in Corvallis.
Dr Ingham is teaching the course, and is one of the people who began to document the function of the soil food web, and how it functions to support life on earth.

You are lucky to have that resource so close to home! I'm sure the folks there in Corvallis could speak far more intelligently and extensively than I.

Thanks again for making me aware of a gap in my understanding. I am sure there are plenty more.

Thekla
 
Dillon Nichols
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Theckla: Excellent, thanks for reporting back. I was watching one of Ingham's videos yesterday, then came back to this thread and wondered what her take would be!

We mostly just apply oyster shell on the surface, but if we do use lime, it either goes on the surface when mulching, or gets added when we plant something.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Hey Dillon,

That makes sense.

What's the condition of your soil community? Ingham says, and so does Kris Nichols another incredible soil microbiologist, that the minerals are there in the crust of the earth, everywhere. When we get the soil community re-established, if we choose to grow plants right for the fungal bacterial ratio and biomass in the soil, or adjust the ratio and biomass to the crop or pasture or plant community we want, they'll take care of the rest. Fertility issues, pH issues, productivity, pests and diseases are indications something is not right beneath the surface. I think that's really wonderful.

When I wwoofed on the outer coast of Vancouver Island, on an oyster farm, we also put oyster shell on the surface beneath what we were trying to grow, to reflect the light back up to the plants. I first heard of that through someone doing it on one of those islands in the Washington part of the water. I found it stunning that someone was growing lavender out there (not knowing there was anything BUT soggy and foggy in that part of the world).

How little I knew! I considered buying a place on Galiano Island, giving up my place here in Western Colorado, but the dollar dollar exchange rate was not right at the time.

Thekla
 
John Saltveit
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THis is a great discussion.

I assumed that people knew that you had to add organic material in order to get the TCEC Total Cation Exchange ?. It is the process of having added and continuing to add it that builds the soil food web. This means that your soil can absorb the minerals that are added. I read Steve Solomon's book, "The Intelligent Gardener" and some other soil science materials. The minerals won't just flush down to the water table if you have humus, organic material and a soil food web, but that doesn't mean you have the minerals. Yes, Dillon, mine were pelletized, so it comes in slowly. Also, I added some and then added some the next year, so as to not shock the soil food web. Elaine Ingham is making a controversial statement when she says it doesn't matter. Many scientists disagree with her. She started soil food web, inc., but I believe that now she is chief scientist at Rodale, Organic Gardening magazine publishers in PA.

I don't till because I know it's bad for the soil food web and the mycorrhizal fungi. I spread it out in the fall and cover it with yearly wood chips. Oyster shells are good for avoiding the worst forms of severe calcium deficiency, but they are so slow that you will have sufficient calcium for your grand children. That's not my goal. I am working on mineral balance, ph balance, humus, and soil food web all at the same time, trying to develop all of them. It doesn't make sense to me to say wait ten years until you have perfect humus in your soil. Then you can start on one of the others. I can't wait that long.
John S
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John Saltveit wrote:THis is a great discussion.

I assumed that people knew that you had to add organic material in order to get the TCEC Total Cation Exchange ?. It is the process of having added and continuing to add it that builds the soil food web. This means that your soil can absorb the minerals that are added. I read Steve Solomon's book, "The Intelligent Gardener" and some other soil science materials. The minerals won't just flush down to the water table if you have humus, organic material and a soil food web, but that doesn't mean you have the minerals. Yes, Dillon, mine were pelletized, so it comes in slowly. Also, I added some and then added some the next year, so as to not shock the soil food web. Elaine Ingham is making a controversial statement when she says it doesn't matter. Many scientists disagree with her. She started soil food web, inc., but I believe that now she is chief scientist at Rodale, Organic Gardening magazine publishers in PA.

I don't till because I know it's bad for the soil food web and the mycorrhizal fungi. I spread it out in the fall and cover it with yearly wood chips. Oyster shells are good for avoiding the worst forms of severe calcium deficiency, but they are so slow that you will have sufficient calcium for your grand children. That's not my goal. I am working on mineral balance, ph balance, humus, and soil food web all at the same time, trying to develop all of them. It doesn't make sense to me to say wait ten years until you have perfect humus in your soil. Then you can start on one of the others. I can't wait that long.
John S
PDX OR



I was thinking about this just a few minutes ago as I was working in my garden, pulling bindweed I followed Mr. Solomon's lime advice a few years ago (Growing Veg West of the Cascades) and I have to say that my garden responded very well- not only in food production quantity but in quality. The year after application the soil was starting to change into dark, rich beautiful stuff- full of life, too, in a way it never had. I am considering purchasing the Intelligent Gardener, but my books-to-read stack is already so high I am in danger of being crushed every time I walk by.

Now to bindweed: here is what I noticed just today, as I started poking around in beds that have been dormant all year (under straw mulch, and scratched by chickens). The newest beds, the ones that have the least soil amendment (worm castings and other conditioners) have the most bindweed. I hoe my entire garden almost daily- really just slicing the baby weeds with a sharp hoe chop-n-drop style. The older beds have had eagle-eye hoeing jobs done on them for a few years now, and there are no bindweed bits apprearing at present. The newer beds, converted from pasture, have copious amounts poking up. Today I scratched down with a fork to get as much root as possible and pulled them out before they get too big. After today, I will simply hoe the tops as they reappear.

Interestingly, the area that was practically tormented last summer by my mole adversary was free of bindweed! Is that crazy? The soil was gorgeous; loose, dark, and full of worm castings, with NO bindweed. The other end of the bed (where I put the mole trap, I confess) was not as gorgeous, and full of devilwee... I mean, bindweed. I had already decided to befriend mr. mole when I learned his poo had thousands upon thousands of fungal spores, and now I am best friends with him, seriously.

So, to sum up my rambling (I think I am a little lightheaded from the scent of the wild fruit trees out side, sorry!) I can report that in my annual garden pulling bindweed roots in early spring and then quickly slicing their growing tips when they appear seems to be controlling its spread and vigor. My chickens were let loose in the annual garden for several months, and they ate it down to nothing- this may have helped as well.

I have heretofore ignored the pasture- most of our native meadow is bindweed free, and only the small pasture near us has an infestation. I hope to turn that area into a food forest next year, so have been turning the chickens out on to the pasture in the hopes of controlling it there. Fortunately the pasture is in between two seasonal creeks, and those have proved to be an obstacle to its spread.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Hi John,

I just reserved a copy of "The Intelligent Gardener" at my local library. Thanks for the reference. You mention soil scientists who don't agree with Ingham's claim about mineral availability.

If you can provide me with other names, books references, I'd really appreciate it.

Thanks

Thekla
 
John Saltveit
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I believe that shasta daisies are accumulators of calcium. So is plantago major, plantain weed, which is edible (I eat it regularly). I wonder if having a diversity of dynamic accumulators of calcium may offset the dominance of morning glory/bindweed.

For years, people have studied the healthiest people in the world. Much of their health is attributed to the mineral availability in their water and crops. John Robbins wrote about it in Healthy at 100. Also Blue Zones talked about that. Secrets of the Soil, a biodynamic primer, talked extensively about mineral availability. Several local gurus have also told me that they disagree with her on that, that she's going to extremes with the traditional Rodale position that all you do is extreme organic mulch and everything will be ok. I've actually heard it from so many sources that Elaine INgham/Rodale is the major one I've heard of the other way.
Accumulators
Dynamic Accumulators of Nutrients for Composting
Name Botanical Name Na I Fl B Si S N Mg Ca K P Mn Fe Cu Co
Alfalfa Medicago sativa x x
Arrowroot x
Bladder wrack x x x
Borage Borago officinalis x x
Bracken; eastern Pteridium aquifolium x x x x x x
Bridal bower x
Buckwheat Fagopyrum esculentums x
Burdock Arctium minus x
Calamus x x x
Carageen x x x
Caraway Carum carvi x
Carrot leaves Daucus carota x x
Cattail Typha latifolia x
Chamomile; corn Anthemis arvensis x x
Chamomile; German Chamomilla recutita x x x
Chickweed Stellaria media x x x
Chicory Cichorium intybus x x
Chives Allium sp. x x
Cleavers Galium aparine x x
Clovers Trifolium sp. x x
Clover; hop Medicago lupulina x x
Clover; rabbit foot x x
Clover; red Trifolium protense x x
Clover; white Trifolium repens x x
Coltsfoot x x x x x x
Comfrey Symphytum officinale x x x x x x
Dandelion Taraxacum vulgare x x x x x x x x
Dock; broad leaved Rumex obtusifolias x x x x
Dulse x x x x x
Fat hen Atriplex hastata x x
Fennel Foeniculum vulgare x x x
Flax; seed Linum usitatissimum x
Garlic Allium sativum x x x
Groundsel Senecio vulgaris x
Horsetails Equisetum sp. x x x x x
Kelp x x x x x x
Lamb’s quarters Chenopodsum album x x x x x
Lemon Balm Melissa offcinalis x
Lupine Lupinus sp. x x
Marigold; flowers Tagetes sp. x
Meadow sweet Astilbe sp. x x x x x x
Mistletoe x
Mullein; common Verbascum sp. x x x x
Mustards Brassica sp. x x
Nettles; stinging Urtica urens x x x x x x x
Oak; bark Quercus sp. x
Oat Straw x
Parsley x x x x
Peppermint Mentha piperita x x
Pigweed; red root Amaranthus retroflexus . x x x x
Plantains Plantago sp. x x x x x x
Primrose Oenothera biennis x
Purslane Portulaca oleracea x x x
Salad burnet Poterium sanguisorba x x x x x
Savory Satureja sp. x
Scarlet Pimpernel Anagallis arvensis x
Shepherd’s purse Capsella bursa-pastoris x x x
Skunk cabbage Navarretia squanosa x
Sorrel; sheep Rumex acetosella x x x
Sow thistle Sonchus arvensis x x x
Spurges Euphorbia sp. x
Strawberry; leaves Fragaria sp. x
Tansy Tanacetum vulgare x
Thistle; Canada Cirsium arvense x
Thistle; creeping Sonchus arvensis x x x
Thistle; nodding Carduus nutans x
Thistle; Russian Salsola pestifer x
Toadflax Linaria vulgaris x x x
Tobacco; stems/stalk Nicotiana sp. x
Valerian Valeriana officinalis x
Vetches Vicia sp. x x x x x
Watercress Nasturtium offcinale x x x x x x x x
Willow; bark Salix sp. x
Yarrow Achilea millefolium x x x x


Download printable version

TO see this yourself, search for Oregon Biodynamic Accumulators.
John S
PDX OR
 
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I believe buckwheat is a phosphorus accumulator, and perhaps making an infusion of buckwheat and spraying it in the areas you have bindweed may help. I have read that bindweed flourishes in areas that have been cultivated when wet, perhaps hinting that bindweed thrives in a more anaerobic environment.

There is a fascinating practice in biodynamics involving ashing the seeds of a particular invasive plant and "peppering" the ash to remove the invasive plant using ash from the same species.

The bindweed is perhaps natures way of restoring equilibrium to those mulched areas, unfortunately. Once you are successful in removing the bindweed, you'll probably have to deal with another invasive plant.

Here is a link to the practice of ashing. https://www.biodynamics.com/files/Bulletin%20on%20Biodynamic%20Weed%20Control%282.5%29.pdf
 
Michael Cox
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Don - smallish thing, but could you possibly fix your link so it isn't displayed long? When you post there is a URL button at the top - paste the link in the box that comes up.

Long links look bad and seriously mess up the display on small screens like mobiles.

Mike
(On a tiny mobile phone screen!)
 
Dillon Nichols
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Thekla, I must admit I have neither a microscope nor even a recent soil test, but visually, it's doing fairly well; we're getting a pretty decent crumb structure and the color is darker, quite a few worms.

This soil has been a long gradual project; several decades and owners ago, the topsoil on my parents land was scraped off and sold to a flower garden tourist attraction nearby. The last of the previous owners spent many years putting in a garden and orchard on what remained, amending with what fill he could find for free. We find glass, steel pipe, cement, nails, rebar, etc, if we dig down a bit. The current soil is a mix of this, plus gradual rebuilding from the maples leaves and chop/drop of helpful weeds. They've added a bit of purchased topsoil over the years, but it doesn't go very far. Access is through the apple trees, max truck height 6.5ft, and it turns to mud if you drive on it much at all!

Probably for the best you didn't move to Galiano, the ferry system is really becoming a big downside to the gulf islands... Costs are way up, and they've cut sailings at the start/end of each day, too.

I find what I've seen/read of Ingham's stuff to be really interesting, and the idea of being able to look at the soil and actually recognize what is going on is pretty exciting. The implication that you can grow nearly anything anywhere, from a PH/mineral availability standpoint, and the minerals will become available if the soil is healthy enough... that part seems a bit too good to be true! Of course, many people would say that about a lot of aspects of permaculture...


Don Dufresne wrote:
The bindweed is perhaps natures way of restoring equilibrium to those mulched areas, unfortunately. Once you are successful in removing the bindweed, you'll probably have to deal with another invasive plant.


That's alright with me, I don't mind most invasive plants nearly this much! Around here, the main three are Himalayan blackberry, which can give a nice crop in the right spot; Scotch Broom, a nitrogen fixer, and phlox, which provides lovely flowers, stalks that look like good insect housing, and easy chop/drop mulch... All far less effort to control than bindweed!

In our case, the bindweed is in a raised area with an old, failing stone wall around it, which has greatly helped in containment. It's probably some of the best soil we have, and all sorts of other weeds and plants grow happily there, as long as they don't mind the limited sun... We've been leaving it to the weeds, other than some rhubarb, for year, because the bindweed would get all over everything. Finally trying to make use of the soil again this year, thinking we've beaten the bindweed back enough...


John, thanks for the list; I've seen similar, but that one is much more region applicable to me. I'll have to track down a copy of the 'The Intelligent Gardener', too.

John Saltveit wrote:I believe that shasta daisies are accumulators of calcium. So is plantago major, plantain weed, which is edible (I eat it regularly). I wonder if having a diversity of dynamic accumulators of calcium may offset the dominance of morning glory/bindweed.


Worth a shot; at the very least, having a replacement already on hand as the bindweed hopefully diminishes would be a good thing.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Dillon, I know what gardens you are talking about! It's a shame though when people sell the topsoil. It seems like selling life and the future in one go! I think it's an indication of how abundant things were in former times. And what a project it left you.

It sounds like you've got soil there. The only other indication on the macroscopic level is what is growing in the decent dark crumb structure with worms. If it is mustard and brassicas, you are still bacterially dominated. If it is strawberries you're more fungal than bacterial.

I just watched Trad Cotter's presentation at the online Sustainable Farm Summit ww.smallfarmsummit.org/. He's got me thinking of growing mushrooms right in the garden beds with my vegetables. He has written a book Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation, which I've requested from my local library. If later successional stages of soil do not include bindweed, then I'm thinking that's another way to move things forward.

If it worries you what might have come into your soil through the loads of various fill material, he has a section on mycoremediation, and he sells spawn.

Thanks for the long post. It is nice to get an idea of your place.

Thekla
 
Thekla McDaniels
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And I was thinking yesterday about a place bind weed might help me. I have arid conditions. In some places I have stacks of woody material, though that stuff is on the decline, but yesterday, there I was working near one, and adding to it, and thinking it would never decompose without moisture.

It would be difficult and labor intensive to try to keep it watered, but, if bindweed grew over that pile, it would shade it and increase the moisture. If I watered the bindweed enough to get it growing strong, rampant, doing its very best (scary thought!) Then the habitat would change in that pile of sticks, and I would get different organisms living in it, and in the ground beneath it.

I'm not saying that's what I'm going to do, but I did think of our conversation here, at the same time I looked at the dry stick situation.

Thekla
 
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I haven't experience with it but it sounds like an awesome plant if it can be controlled.
 
Michael Cox
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Ola Kindom wrote:I haven't experience with it but it sounds like an awesome plant if it can be controlled.



It can't.

There are other plants that fulfil the same functions without the negatives.
 
Dillon Nichols
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Theckla: I bet if you search/think long enough, you'll find a less terrifying option to colonize those brush piles! Is there a type of blackberry that can cope with your arid conditions, maybe planted in the shade of the brushpile itself to let it get established? Maybe seeds scattered into the pile might find a relatively cooler more favorable microclimate, and work their way out from there? What about honeysuckle?

We must be making some progress, strawberries are looking good so far this year; planted them last year, after many years of not bothering as they previously did poorly. I do have some mustard to plant, I'll make sure it goes in at the less improved lower end.

I've got a hugelkultur bed that I've converted to a log raised bed as an experiment this year, it's already growing all sorts of shrooms on the logs. If you use wood edging on paths, or woodchips as mulch, it would seem very efficient to grow mushrooms right there. They aren't my thing in terms of food, but actively using them to improve soil sounds fun.


Ola: Yes, absolutely! It would be a powerful force for good, if it weren't such a powerful force for binding-things-you-don't-want-bound! In much the same way that a rabid wolverine would make a fantastic lapdog, if it would only stop eating your face! But really, if someone manages to bind bindweed to their design, beyond just working to ameliorate the effects, I'm sure all would be greatly impressed.

My suggestion; if you wanted a privacy screen or windbreak, you could dig a moat, line it with cement on the bottom and both sides, refill it with soil, build a sturdy fence out of concrete pillars and steel pipes down the center, and then plant bindweed along said fence. Relax in the cool shade. Enjoy the lovely flowers. Then you could help the economy by employing neighborhood children to patrol the edges with flamethrowers and machetes, on guard for wayward fronds, while their equally meticulous but less militant grandparents pluck all the blossoms before they could create seeds that might menace your orchard, your dog, and your sanity! You could have a yearly festival where you dig out the trench and inspect the walls for weak spots, before refilling and replanting.

As agreeable children and grandparents are in short supply in my area, someone else will need to try this stratagem; anyone who can proffer a better suggestion is entitled to a Free Sample(should last a lifetime!) of bindweed from my garden; u-pick, shipping/handling not included, liability waiver required.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Dillon, that was funny! You forgot to have a trellis built over the patio adjacent to the bindweed bed, so you could supervise the workers with flamethrowers. A trellis utilizing at least as many resources as the concrete used in the bed to sequester the bindweed, and fuel the flame throwers!

As for my pile: anything but bindweed I would have to establish, and water a lot more than the bindweed. This is in an area that I have to pump water to, a lot more work. (Most areas I furrow irrigate) It is also in an area where the goats graze, AND I'm in a region where the mites are effective and available.

And bindweed is already there, with deep roots that store water. We all know it would not take much to encourage it. Another plus is that what grows there if I work hard to discourage bindweed, is a weedy grass that drys early in the season and makes what I call foxtails, a sticker that gets in my sox, but also its seed head gets in the dogs' noses and ears, requiring trips to vet, full on surgery to remove, gets between their toes, and its sharp awn penetrates the skin and it travels to internal dog parts unknown. It's a plant to suppress and avoid (the foxtails) for its hazards to the dog members of the community.

Sounds like I'm convincing myself to go ahead on the bindweed!

Funny you should mention mushrooms. I listened to Trad Cotter online through the Sustainable Summit Online Conference. I've been trying to think what mushroom spawn would be good to introduce into my soil, to harvest or not. The big question for me is how to maintain the humidity they require.

It is probably as difficult for you to imagine a place where everything is dry, EVERYTHING is dry, as it is for me to remember humidity and what that does for everything. I like dry just fine. The crackers never get stale, even left opened, or a bowl of them on the table. If you leave a piece of bread out for a minute while you go find everything else for the sandwich, then the surface of the bread stiffens and drys, gets a surface like sandpaper, sort of. If you have commercial bread, you never never leave the bag open. The best is that in a light rain, the clothes will still dry on the line, even while the mist is falling on them, because the air between the raindrops is dry. Rain often hangs out of the cloud like a curtain, but does not hit the ground because it evaporates on the way... In addition to the aridity, the light is so intense (higher elevation, no moisture in the air to diffuse the sun's radiation), that we can grow sun plants in shaded situations.

Although I might bring on the mushrooms, it will be in an area where the water is automatically supplied by the furrow watering system.

I was studying for my final exam in the Ingham life in the soil class and came across a consideration regarding the application of lime which I may not have included.

Lime is a salt. The amount of salt in a soil is a cumulative thing. I think the critical number of pounds per acre of total salts is about 300. That part I'm not sure on. Just say there is a total amount of all salts in the soil that you have to stay below because when that level is exceeded, then it begins to affect the availability of water to the living organisms. The salt is osmotically active, and draws moisture to it. The way salt preserves meat (jerky) or vegetables (pickles), that it does to the water in the soil. When the salt concentrations get higher than the concentrations in the cytoplasm of the living organisms, the salts will actually draw water out of the organisms. Two ways for application of lime to suppress beneficial soil organisms (tilling and osmotic pressure).

And I learned something I know I did not include. Beneficial fungi have oxalate crystals on the surfaces of their hyphae. They are calcium oxalate crystals. They deposit the calcium at the surface of the clay to maintain the flocculated condition. I imagine they create endless supplies of oxalates, and continue to deposit them at / on clay surfaces as needed.

Now I am wondering if this is the thread where we discussed application of lime. I think it is, but if not, please be patient with an aging woman who sometimes loses things.

Thanks for the belly laugh!

Thekla
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Just a note to say thanks to John Saltveit for mentioning "Intelligent Gardener" by Steve Solomon. I read the whole thing the night I picked it up form the library. The next day I mailed my soil samples to the lab in Ohio.

I'll be adding some clay from a potter friend to the compost pile, as well as minerals, as soon as the test results come back. That is a great book. I appreciate that he tells us the development of his ideas, and does not hold back on what information he is willing to share. And he makes it easy to understand what he is recommending, and the thinking behind it.

And thanks for everyone's patience as I made my way through the zealotry phase of learning Ingham's take on best practices for soils.

And, about the idea of watering the bindweed on my pile of woody waste material .... without the goats I would not even dream of it.

T
 
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I work on a couple lots where bindweed is present. A week or so ago I tossed some in a pool full of tadpoles and they seemed happy for the lilly pad like shade the leaves provided. Here's a thread on its edibility to accompany the nutritional value studies cited earlier in this thread. I regularly use the severed vines to train and support other plants. I've noticed the hedge bindweed vine becomes tougher after cutting, until it's fully dry anyway.

Interesting bit on biodynamic seed ashing above. Thanks.
 
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I'll mention this tool, as a British gardener and a Eugene gardener both lauded it's ability to 'comb through, untangle  and bring up' bindweed and quackgrass roots ... two of my main bugaboos.... it is the magna grecia hoe.   I now own it and find it is the imaginary tool I had always wished for, as I tilted these roots out of the ground with a spading fork.
 
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I was just reading "The self sufficient life and how to live it" by John Seymour, and he mentions Tagetes minuta will kill bindweed. I found this blog post:
https://wellywoman.wordpress.com/2012/03/09/the-weed-killing-plant/
My rabbits and chickens won't eat bindweed, and my neighbors would be unhappy if I let it go unchecked, so this might be helpful.
 
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I have had bindweed for the past 8 years, and it's slowly expanded its area from 10'x10' to about 200' x 100'. Nothing's done much to diminish it, though I have noticed frequent mowing (which I'm not great at) seems to help, but it takes a long time to make a difference. I've been hand-pulling about 80' along our wire fence for years and I can see I've made some headway, but not really. In other words, if I continue to hand pull for 50 hours every summer, I can keep it sort of at bay.

I just mowed a few days ago and was startled what I found underneath the tall grass. On the left side of this image you'll see bindweed is the #1 prolific plant. The bindweed had been so bad here that I decided I'd plant trees (my hopeful long term solution). Once the trees were in, we pulled up every bindweed in sight and mulched with 6" of woodchips. I don't think I could have designed a better bindweed growing environment. Where we pulled it up last year, there's pretty much a solid blanket of it this year. You should probably call it "pruning" bindweed because it seemed to have given it more vigor. I'm guessing I probably TRIPLED it's production.

In the photo you can see a striking difference -- heavy bindweed on the left, NO BINDWEED on the right.

What'd I do? Last summer on the right side I mowed low, then did a light till to break through the bindweed roots, then planted buckwheat for a late season bee forage crop. The buckwheat took about two months to grow, flowered beautifully, then died back. This year I didn't do anything there, just let the grass grow over that patch and a few days ago I mowed the tall grass down. Imagine my surprise -- NO BINDWEED in that area, none at all.

So did I inadvertently find a cure for bindweed? Seems as though I did. Don't know if it's the buckwheat itself, or if the buckwheat changed the pH, or provided some mineral the soil needed that bindweed isn't fond of. Whatever it was, it worked. I planted the buckwheat densely in July during a hot spell, made sure it had enough water to get started. Then just watched it grow. Bees loved it, frost kicked it down, end of story.

Somebody else has to try this and report so we can figure out if this method works on your land, too. I'm amazed this happened. I'm about to go plant buckwheat everywhere I have bindweed.

bindweed-vs-buckwheat.jpg
[Thumbnail for bindweed-vs-buckwheat.jpg]
bindweed was weeded on left, planted buckwheat on right
 
Thekla McDaniels
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That's pretty remarkable.  I can't try it though, because the places where I have bindweed I would not be able to till.  I could mow low and disturb the surface a bit, but not a lot more.  Maybe won't even have time to do that, but you've piqued my curiosity!
 
John Saltveit
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Great idea, Jacqueline. I wonder if it has to do with calcium, because bindweed tries to gather calcium from the depth of the soil to make it present at the soil surface.  I can't try it because I don't have bindweed.
JohN S
PDX OR
 
nancy sutton
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Wow, Jacqueline, thanks so much for sharing!  Buckwheat has often been often recommended as a superb 'green manure' summer crop (plant, grow, then cut for biomass mulch).   I have a 1/3 acre suburban lot, so will be trying it differently... planting a bit of buckwheat (right now! wherever there's an empty spot, and manually cutting it before flowering where I don't want it spreading, and after flowering where spreading would be good, and I want to enjoy the bees ;)

(John, beware... those may be famous last words :)
 
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Hmmm, I wonder if this would work if the buckwheat were just sewn without tilling? I have bindweed growing in my grass, and I don't have a tiller nor the desire to till up and reseed my "lawn." If I just sew the buckwheat after weeding as much bindweed as I can, I wonder if it will be able to out-compete? It's worth a try! (Now to find the time to do it )
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Nicole, could you get a little cover on the buckwheat after sowing, sift some of your soil over them, or a bag of some good soil product like happy frog?  Not enough to cover the grass, just some down in between the blades?  Just 1/4 to half an inch, for increased seed soil contact?
 
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