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Black Locust & Ragweed, Oh MY!

 
Elsa McCargar
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Hi There!

I am in the process of envisioning for a plot of land in NE Iowa that is overgrown with 16-foot tall ragweed (no joke) and small black locust saplings. My current thinking is to clear/mow the area and then burn the brush to diminish re-seeding, then plant a cover crop this fall before the frost. Does anyone have suggestions for handling these particular species? Ideas for cover-crops that would both suppress weeds and be functional as living mulch in the spring?

Thanks for your input!



 
Dan Boone
gardener
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Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
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Hi, Elsa, welcome to Permies!

I have some sympathy with your concerns because I am dealing with a lot of giant ragweed and honey locust (somewhat similar to your black locust) on the 40 acres we live on. Except our honey locusts range from seedlings to 40-foot trees.

My first question involves your long-term planning for the land. Unless you are pretty sure you don't want to make a productive forest (food forest or woodlot or windbreak or wild animal habitat) on any part of it, I'd hesitate to mow the black locust seedlings. For one thing, most of them will come back in the spring anyway, unless you're planning to spray toxic gick on them which I assume you aren't. But they will be set back. And no matter what kind of forest you want, having some trees already there will make establishing new trees much faster and easier. Many people like having black locust on their land; they're more controversial as a forage/fodder crop than honey locust, but all agree they are the most energy-dense firewood out there.

Regarding the ragweed, I got nothin'. I defend my growing spaces by hand weeding when they are still less than 24" tall; once they are huge, they win for the season. My weeds seem to move around and favor different ones depending on the rain patterns; year before last it was all horse nettle, last year it was giant ragweed paradise, this year it's something that grows about seven feet tall that I haven't identified, possibly some kind of broomweed.

Good luck!
 
Daniel Bowman
Posts: 75
Location: Sandy Mush, NC
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Building on previous post, consider that sheep and other livestock love ragweed. I heard it is higher protein content than alfalfa. My flerd will knock over the "trees" and "limb" it down of all foliage. Pretty amusing to watch.
 
Judy Griepsma
Posts: 6
Location: California
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Hi Elsa...I just watched a video "Versaland: Pigs on Pasture" Grant Schultz....he makes a statement early on about feeding the pigs..ragweed....know anyone with pigs
 
Grant Schultz
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Location: Iowa City, Iowa Zone 5
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Judy Griepsma wrote:Hi Elsa...I just watched a video "Versaland: Pigs on Pasture" Grant Schultz....he makes a statement early on about feeding the pigs..ragweed....know anyone with pigs
 
Jennifer Richardson
Posts: 166
Location: Columbus, Texas, USA (Colorado County). Zone 8b, verging on Zone 9. Humid subtropical, drought prone
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Regarding your giant ragweed, copying and pasting from a previous post of mine:

Came across some info that I thought I'd share about a plant we call bloodweed, AKA giant ragweed, AKA Ambrosia trifida, which is a native weed we have in very great abundance.

Apparently the stems can be retted and used for cordage/rope; the fibers are very long (it really is giant)--often over six feet. It can also be woven or used as thread.

It also (according to the internet; no one poison themselves on my account) has edible seed kernels and greens, and possibly stems.

The leaves can reportedly be used as a very pretty light green dye for wool, and the red sap (hence the name bloodweed) makes a good stain (for your hands, too.)

It also has medicinal uses, mostly topical, but reportedly Native Americans used it internally for some things too. Anecdotal reports for a topical remedy for poison ivy and minor cuts are very favorable.

It thrives under a variety of conditions (to say the least).

Some more info:

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Ambrosia+trifida

https://books.google.com/books?id=GdmGAAAAQBAJ&pg=PA48&lpg=PA48&dq=dye+giant+ragweed&source=bl&ots=CSJwW4DXm8&sig=5M9urLFUJ31FcxVn-YcnciYOcis&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CEsQ6AEwCmoVChMIkcuij8WnxwIVE3uSCh0-uQOm#v=onepage&q=dye%20giant%20ragweed&f=false

https://books.google.com/books?id=cf9d4lHo0ocC&pg=PA28&lpg=PA28&dq=make+dye+from+bloodweed&source=bl&ots=F-f2sUPNJj&sig=w8U-1jHB84MRTve9oBvfqJW2MjU&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CCUQ6AEwAWoVChMI5p_BjMWnxwIVijySCh24rgwi#v=onepage&q=make%20dye%20from%20bloodweed&f=false


So don't be too hasty to eliminate it all (unless you're allergic)! It is actually quite useful.
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
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Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
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First decide what you want to do with the land. You can't eliminate something without replacing them and you can't replace them until you know what you want.

You probably want some Black Locust no matter what you do with that field.

Of course you could turn the problem into a solution and put an apiary there. Bees love both of these plants.
 
Grant Schultz
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Location: Iowa City, Iowa Zone 5
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Elsa McCargar wrote:Hi There!

I am in the process of envisioning for a plot of land in NE Iowa that is overgrown with 16-foot tall ragweed (no joke) and small black locust saplings. My current thinking is to clear/mow the area and then burn the brush to diminish re-seeding, then plant a cover crop this fall before the frost. Does anyone have suggestions for handling these particular species? Ideas for cover-crops that would both suppress weeds and be functional as living mulch in the spring?

Thanks for your input!



Hi Elsa

Is the intent to homestead? Black locust saplings make awesome dense fuel wood for cookstoves, etc. Also, worth growing up the straightish ones for rot-resistant fence posts and building timbers. They grow very quickly.
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