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How to work on removing highly poisonous plants  RSS feed

 
kadence blevins
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Location: SE Ohio
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I hope this is the proper section for this question.
I have finally IDed a plant and really want to hit something... It's Horsenettle (Solanum carolinense)... In the nightshade family, highly poisonous, very prickly and thorny. And there is a good amount of it! The family farm is 250 acres and I know it will take more than a handshovel and going walkin uprooting them /: The biggy there is they are in any hay the family makes ):
Mainly my concern is an area about 1.5acres that I want to fence into paddocks to rotate animals. Sheep, goats, chickens, and maybe a few pot bellies later on. Theres a lot of plants I will be working out of the area, which is currently untouched other than part of it being where there was a 3acre full time goat pasture more than 8yrs ago. So it is plenty wild and overgrown right now.

here is my idea so far and I would love more input into this from all of you permies!
1) fence off one paddock, introduce a couple young goats. from my years of goat experience here already I don't think the goats eat the plants especially since there is SO MUCH ELSE for them to eat.
2) go in periodically and pull up the noxious stuff.
3) fence off paddock 2 and move the goats into it. work on really digging out any noxious plants in paddock 1. periodically check both paddocks for noxious plants to pull.
4) since I am very very low on money to start this the goats will be rotated between the first two paddocks until I could fence in more paddocks. those paddocks would be done the same as the first two.
5) come fall really cut out the unwanted stuff. there is many young trees to be taken out from the area. black walnuts become a huge nuisance when there is soooo many! plus they put out stuff in the roots so most stuff wont grow at their bases. There will still be a whole lot of trees there for shade and variety and wind break etc.
6) winter and spring I want to plant among the current growies for more variety and things to balance out the nutrition. Havent decided anything in particular. do sheep and goats eat sunchoke plants?

Thanks!
 
Michael Bushman
Posts: 144
Location: Sacramento, CA
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Hopefully, someone with better ideas comes along but you seem to be on the right track. I looked them up on wiki and they spread through rizomes as well as seed. Always makes a weed hard to kill but making sure you always have a hoe or machete and kill them when you see them is a good start. Mowing right after flowering depletes plants energy reserves and it likes poor disturbed soil and tilling just spreads it. When you find plants with fruit, cut and dispose of them to prevent reseeding. Good news is few animals feed on the fruit so it will not be spread much. I would experiment with the goats to see how much they can eat without becoming sick by waiting until they have eaten everything else and are forced to go after the plant you posted about. That said, I would also do some research on what it does to their milk.

Another thought is to try pigs, they will either root and eat the rizomes or root and spread them, try a small patch.
 
kadence blevins
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we had goats for many years. not in the spot I will be working but there was a ~5acre pasture and since I see the plant in this section, by the one barn, by the second barn, and around the hayfields,... I would guess its very very likely some in the old goat pasture. and a small part of what I will be working is part of the old secondary pasture that was ~3acres. they were in the pastures year round with some flip-flopping between the pastures during kidding and breeding times. we rarely lost goats. just the few newly bought, one to kidding complication, one to old age, one to heat the first year we had got the goats,...
I am 100% sure its in the pastures and in a lot of the hay bales. because I have thrown them myself and when you are handling several hundred twice a day you quickly learn to look before ya grab for the briers etc in the bales.

I am concluding this plant to the loss of a handful of rabbits from a couple years ago when I had a lot of breeding going in. I would pick out anything I wasn't sure they'd eat and anything with thorns especially with kits who might not know better around em. but there is always the bit that slips through and especially the few times I was away and had family feed for me who wouldn't pick things out like I would.

So from my knowledge with the goats we had as a family and then my own handful of goats for several years here I am going to say they either never ate it or ate so few of it at "safer" parts of growth that it didn't matter.
Although I am hesitant about when I do get to bringing in a few goats when I start. you never know how stupid new ones might be and depending on the previous owner if they will just gorge on anything growing /: So when I start I will need to watch closely at first to see. probably several days spent with a notebook and stool following them.
 
Jim Gagnepain
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I've use a John Deere, with frontloader to remove large areas of weeds. Set the frontloader vertically, and drop it about 2" below the surface, and back up. If the soil is somewhat moist, the weeds will be uprooted, roots and all. I've then layered horse manure, and about 2" of dirt over it. It gets hot enough to kill the seeds. About 1-1/2 months later, replant with a cover crop - grass, clover, buckwheat, alfalfa, etc.
 
kadence blevins
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Bit thick here for that. Plus no tractor. Plus a whole freakin lot of space.
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Michael Bushman
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No tractor makes it hard as I assume you have nothing capable of mowing a large area either?

The other alternative is to graze it hard, till little is left but those plants but since they are now revealed, it makes it easier to go in and cut them down by hand. Since what I read on the net makes it sound like they are not spread much by animals, work one or two paddocks hard over a year so you really cut down on their numbers and then start on the next ones. Another thought is to mark out the plants and either sheet mulch over them or put a burn pile over them to scorch and burn the seeds, I wouldn't do that here in Cali where you are likely to get a wildfire but your area looks pretty green.

I found a good article on the stuff HERE that indicates tilling is a VERY bad idea...

Horsenettle is a persistent weed because of its extensive perennial root system. The taproot often reaches 8 feet (2.5 m) into the soil. Roots in the upper 18 inches (45 cm) can extend 4 feet (120 cm) horizontally from the main plant. Horsenettle spreads more quickly in cultivated land than in undisturbed areas because tillage distributes pieces of root throughout fields. New plants can emerge from rootstocks buried 12 inches (30 cm) below the soil surface, and pieces of root less than ¼ inch long can produce a new plant. Buried root fragments have remained viable for ten years, sprouting when uncovered. No amount of disking and plowing seems to cut horsenettle roots small enough or bury them deep enough to suppress this determined weed.


If you really want to get it under control, it looks like there will be lots of hoeing in your future, cut them down when you see them. Your other path is to sheet mulch around them with cardboard and manure.

I hate invasive weeds...we have nutgrass which is a PIA, far worse than bermuda grass!
 
R Scott
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Rent or hire a small tractor and brush hog to mow the big patches BEFORE seed.

Get a good hoe. I walk around with a rogue scuffle hoe. It is an awesome chop and drop tool, can cut flush to the ground and not chop up roots.

Figure out how to succession past to the next level. That may mean adjusting the pH or letting a lot of the walnuts grow to shade and jugulone the ground for a while. I don't know, I have a different weed I am dealing with and losing.
 
nancy sutton
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Just out of irresistible curiosity, what is that 'worst' Kansas weed you're losing it?
 
R Scott
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Lespedeza. Kansas Kudzu. On paper it should be a permaculture dream--high protein, drought tolerant, warm season, nitrogen fixing, perennial fodder. Except it chokes out everything else and the animals don't like it once it gets about a foot tall. It is kind of like arugula, good when young but turns inedible quickly. The government in their infinite wisdom keeps having farmers burn their pastures in April to prevent brome from overtaking the native prairie, which instead favors lespedeza.

At least it isn't poisonous.
 
kadence blevins
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hmm I think theres some of that Lespedeza here if I am seeing correctly in the pics when I looked it up. mainly along the roads and in the driveway or along beaten paths it sneaks around. cant say I have seen the goats ever take a liking to it. here though its mainly places like that were it gets cut regularly and its more of a groundcover growing weed then.

It's old farm fields here and almost nothing has been plowed etc in 50+yrs except a couple small garden plots. so I guess the lespedeza didn't have room to elbow in much.

I think I will work with the goats and getting the majority of the brush eat down/ cut down by me and then when I find these nasties I will chop em and heavy mulch the spot.
 
kadence blevins
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Another thought is to mark out the plants and either sheet mulch over them or put a burn pile over them to scorch and burn the seeds, I wouldn't do that here in Cali where you are likely to get a wildfire but your area looks pretty green.


hahahahha ya my cousins went to Ireland with their fancy expensive school orchestra (they each play 4 instruments, both play violin) and when they got off the plane the first thing they said... this looks like the farm! BAHAHAhahaha! Looking out at Thee Emerald Isle and first thing ya say is well hell this looks like the farm in ohio why'd we come all the way here for this? hahaha still gets me!
 
Jim Gagnepain
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kadence blevins wrote:Bit thick here for that. Plus no tractor. Plus a whole freakin lot of space.


You should have seen my tumbleweed. A combination of the approach mentioned, and mowing, and gathering brush to keep seeds from regerminating worked very well. Hard work, but in the end, it was a great solution. I have about 11 acres, and did over 1/2 of it the first year, and will do the rest next year.
 
Mike Turner
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Location: Upstate SC
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One way to greatly reduce horse nettle is to mob graze each paddock, but at this point, you're more interested in the animal's trampling action rather than in their grazing. Grasses are much quicker than horse nettle to recover from trampling and so will gradually outcompete it.
 
Jim Gagnepain
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Mike Turner wrote:One way to greatly reduce horse nettle is to mob graze each paddock, but at this point, you're more interested in the animal's trampling action rather than in their grazing. Grasses are much quicker than horse nettle to recover from trampling and so will gradually outcompete it.


Good idea!
 
kadence blevins
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thanks everyone. I guess if it grows like I am reading it does then once I get the paddocks up and start the animals on it then just them being there eating around it and stomping it will do most of the work. and I can just pull up when I see it to help more. but from the sounds of it it shouldn't be too long before I could get it out of the area completely. terrific!
now to find out if they will try eatin it /:
 
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