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ideas about Bindweed?

 
Nicole Alderman
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After spending yet another hour outside, pulling bouquet after bouquet of bindweed, as I've done most every day since they started emerging this spring, I thought I would see what Tao Orion thinks about bindweed. (And, for those also interested, here's some other threads about this demon...*cough* *cough* I mean plant: http://www.permies.com/t/550/plants/biological-control-bindweed; http://www.permies.com/t/1999/organic/reassure-bindweed-thistles; http://www.permies.com/t/47097/plants/Sunchokes-mulch)

Anyway, I've tried most everything I can think of to combat this stuff and keep it from spreading to my garden. I've sprayed it with vinegar, buried it in aleopatic cedar branches, covered it with tarp (which promptly got holes in it from the salmonberry also growing there, and it also has formed lovely mosquito-growing puddles), and now I'm pulling it out by hand. It does not seem fazed, and I really don't have much time or money to keep investing in it's removal.

How can I out compete this thing and replace it with something edible/useful and (hopefully) native, as much of it is growing in protected wetlands on my property? What are your thoughts on bindweed?

Thank you, Tao! (And anyone else out there!)
 
R Ranson
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Apparently, some people eat bindweed.

Haven't tried it myself.
 
Rebecca Norman
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I'm one of the ones on that other thread about eating bindweed. Unfortunately it seems it's eaten when it's small and tender in spring, not again all summer (which might weaken it).

We had a small bindweed infestation beginning in our school gardens and there were a few plants and locations before I noticed. I've kept pulling up all I can every time I pass, several times a summer, and so at least it hasn't set any seeds, and I think a couple of the plants may have even died. But some are still here and there. I wouldn't know if this would have much effect on an established plant with deep voluminous roots, but I think persistence will weaken it. If you keep removing the green parts, or covering them with thick mulch so they can't photosynthesize, they have to get weaker and weaker. Bindweed is notorious for coming up through mulch but at least while it's groping around under there looking for a way out it's using energy, and then if you lift the mulch and whack it back regularly, it should slowly help.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Bindweed is just a plant. It has rhizomous roots, so on my farm, control consists of routine weeding. I'm weeding anyway. If it's not bindweed, it will be buttercups, lambsquarters, Johnson's grass, amaranth, sunroots, thistles, or whatever. Doesn't matter to me if a weed is indigenous or foreign. A weed is a weed. A hoe works on all of them.

If I really want to get after a rhizomous plant like bindweed, I take a digging fork and bring the roots to the surface where they can dry out and die.
 
Tao Orion
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I came across some interesting information about bindweed when reading Neal Kinsey's book Hands-On Agronomy. He mentions that bindweed secretes a substance in its roots that allows the plant to dissolve and uptake scarce calcium in soils, making it much more competitive in situations where calcium is limited (such as the Pacific Northwest US, where prolific rainfall binds with calcium and washes a good deal of it out of soils). So, one approach is to make sure that your garden/orchard/food forest soils are 'topped up' with calcium by adding lime every year at the levels recommended by soil tests. I've been experimenting with this approach in my garden, where I have both species of bindweed, and in the areas where I've been keeping up with good fertility management and regular additions of lime, the bindweed pressure is dissipating. Annual cover crops like crimson clover are also good competitors with plants like bindweed, and several seasons of intensive cover cropping in combination with sound fertility management would eventually transform the niche that bindweed is filling in your garden. I've also been training my chickens to eat it, starting by feeding small amounts to them as chicks, and they definitely help with defoliating and digging up large patches. This also provides a good substrate for planting crimson clover into, as it will grow faster than bindweed in the spring and summer.
 
Nicole Alderman
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:Bindweed is just a plant. It has rhizomous roots, so on my farm, control consists of routine weeding. I'm weeding anyway. If it's not bindweed, it will be buttercups, lambsquarters, Johnson's grass, amaranth, sunroots, thistles, or whatever. Doesn't matter to me if a weed is indigenous or foreign. A weed is a weed. A hoe works on all of them.

If I really want to get after a rhizomous plant like bindweed, I take a digging fork and bring the roots to the surface where they can dry out and die.


I guess the reason I dislike bindweed so much, as apposed to the Himalayan blackberry, horsetail, buttercup, and thistles is that it climbs over everything. Perhaps it does not do that where you live. I know my family in Nampa, ID has bindweed, and it's a stunted, sad plant--either due to the lack of rainfall or the akalinity (as Tao suggested). I'm thinking their soil and climate conditions are more like yours than mine are, and so the bindweed grows similarly? The bindweed here can/will grow a good 10-20 feet up and over other plants, smothering them and then rooting in the ground below. Blackberry does the same, but it's at least edible, a little slower growing, and I can hack it back and tend to the salmonberries and native blackberries that I like better. They eventually out-compete it. This doesn't seem to work on the bindweed, or at least not nearly as well. It also sends up a whole lot more shoots than blackberry ever does. Buttercup is annoying, but I can pull it rather easily and it does not grow nearly as quickly as the bindweed, nor does it climb up things.

I also can't just till the ground, as much of it is growing in protected wetlands that are full of salmonberries and blackberries. This also makes it a pain to weed, too, as I can't get to the ground to dig and pull it out.

I came across some interesting information about bindweed when reading Neal Kinsey's book Hands-On Agronomy. He mentions that bindweed secretes a substance in its roots that allows the plant to dissolve and uptake scarce calcium in soils, making it much more competitive in situations where calcium is limited (such as the Pacific Northwest US, where prolific rainfall binds with calcium and washes a good deal of it out of soils). So, one approach is to make sure that your garden/orchard/food forest soils are 'topped up' with calcium by adding lime every year at the levels recommended by soil tests. I've been experimenting with this approach in my garden, where I have both species of bindweed, and in the areas where I've been keeping up with good fertility management and regular additions of lime, the bindweed pressure is dissipating. Annual cover crops like crimson clover are also good competitors with plants like bindweed, and several seasons of intensive cover cropping in combination with sound fertility management would eventually transform the niche that bindweed is filling in your garden. I've also been training my chickens to eat it, starting by feeding small amounts to them as chicks, and they definitely help with defoliating and digging up large patches. This also provides a good substrate for planting crimson clover into, as it will grow faster than bindweed in the spring and summer.


I can try the clover and the lime (would wood ashes work, too?) in the lawn areas where the bindweed is spreading. But, what do I do about the areas where it's growing up in blackberries? Do I just always keep pulling out as much as I can reach, forever and ever, hoping that the blackberries will give it enough competition that it won't too easily take over the rest of my property? If I toss lime into the bramble/bindweed, will that help the blackberries or weaken them? I'm afraid to hack out the blackberry to pull out the bindweed, as I tried that in another area where salmonberry was also growing, only to have the bind weed grow even faster and stronger. Is there anything I can do to eliminate it forever, or will I always just be managing it? Perhaps I just need to be okay with pulling this stuff forever...

Thank you all for your suggestions!
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Weeds are always with us. If it weren't bindweed, nor blackberries, it would be some other plant, just as vigorous, and just as persistent.

There are hundreds of species of bindweed. No telling if we are discussing the same plant. I have no hope of ever eliminating bindweed from my farm. The best I can do it keep it off of some of the plants, some of the time. Around here, my species doesn't tend to grow well in hot weather, nor in the shade. So if I keep it knocked back early in the season while it's cool, then by mid-summer when it's hot and there is plenty of shade from the vegetables, then it's not much trouble. I am not at war with the bindweed around here. It's just another species of plant competing with my vegetables. I might pay more attention to weeding out bindweed than lambsquarters, but that's due to bindweed being a perennial. Perennial weeds are always a higher priority to me than annual weeds.




 
Dale Hodgins
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I don't have anything that I could call a persistent weed at my place. This is partly because I'm on an isolated island and it's partly because I have been very diligent in not bringing things that would cause me a huge amount of trouble later.

Others on this island deal with bindweed, running bamboos, daphne, Japanese hogweed and various invasive grasses.

I don't ascribe to the idea that every time an invasive shows up, it is somehow filling some niche that nature forgot to fill. The ecology at my place may be simpler, but it is much easier to manage. If it where a large farm, not having these problems while others do, would give me a serious financial advantage.

Edit. I almost forgot about bindweed. I think this is the same plant that people call Morning Glory. I have been controlling it at a friend's house, for a few years now, by putting down plenty of dolomite lime. I learned this by reading someone's post on this forum. My friend wanted to grow kale and other members of the cabbage family. Once I heard this, I remembered reading that bindweed could be controlled using lime and that these food crops required plenty of lime.
 
Mandy Miller
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About two weeks ago I bought a steam mop just to kill weeds growing in the paving stone paths and driveway.

So far it is working great on bindweed and all other greenstuff but I have to see if the bindweed will re-sprout.

When I lived in the UK my neighbor's husband once dug down 4 feet to try to get to the main branch of bindweed and he said the root was like a tree root at that depth and still had roots coming off that!

I know when you hand pull bindweed even a little bit of green stalk that falls off or the tiniest root left in the ground will regow.

That same neighbor tried bleach and that did not work.

Her best solution for weeds was clear plastic laid over the troublesome area. Under clear plastic the seeds germinate also (sterilizing) and at some point everything will die off due to heat or lack of water.

Will try to remember to update the outcome of steam on bindweed..
 
Joe Ruben
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I doubt lime will help get rid of bindweed.

I live where soil ph is naturally high. ( For instance, blueberries just don't grow here unless potted ) We have "free lime" in our soil. Colorado State University says that our soil ph cannot be permanently lowered by the addition of anything. ( I've tested, though, and soil ph is a bit lower under established stands of native pinon/juniper )

Unfortunately, bindweed grows with enthusiasm here!
 
C. Letellier
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First off a warning. DO NOT try and kill bindweed with tillage especially rototillers! You chop it in little pieces and under the right conditions every little piece regrows into its own plant. You can go from 1 or 2 plants per square foot to something like 100 plants per square foot in a single quick go round. This lesson was learned the hard way. Now I noticed in the loose fluffy soil where I had not walked or caused compaction that I could run my fingers through it and easily rake these young plants out of the soil and this lead to another plan. I raked everything I could out and tilled again being careful to leave no compaction areas this time. The stress of regular tillage combined with raking all the plants out would kill it was the plan After 2 cycles of this I had more plants below the tillage layer than I started with. This was NOT working. Ended up covering it with plywood and every time a plant poked its head up beyond a sheet I flipped that sheet up and pulled everything. This technique will get it eventually if you can do a big enough area. Be aware the kill in from the edges for about 2 to 3 feet is poorer. Water for best growth but keep it away from light so you are always pulling up white plants. Be aware you are probably going to need 3 years with the ground covered mimimum. Notice there is a lot of mouse and earthworm activity under the sheets. The mice are cat or dog food and fun. Late fall before the sheets are covered in snow and early spring after the snow has melted just take your pets with you. You will scare them the first couple times while flipping sheets but eventually they will get where they are standing at the edge of the sheet waiting for you to flip it. Now you say I can't afford plywood. Here is how you might. Places that get pallets of heavy bags in will often have 1/4 thick roughly 4 foot squares of plywood or hardboard like masonite that was used as a pallet topper. Or you can make your own by gathering a bunch of the smaller scrapes from what a construction company puts in the dumpster and gluing them in over lapping layers into bigger sheets.(be sure to use a waterproof wood glue)

Given what I have learned in the last few years here is how I would try this if I tried again. I would start by covering the ground. Weaken the plants first. Then pull and rake all the plants out I could from the first growth cycle under the sheets. Then I would till. The thinking being that the plants are already weakened by being starved for light and now when I tilled the little pieces should be weak and they won't have light to restart so when they try and regrow they should mostly die off. This will hopefully leave the just deep root and seed bed layers as the weed source. While I am tilling I would work large quantities of organic material in and a nitrogen source to help it decay. Do a mixture of long life like wood chips and fast decay stuff like grass clippings. The thinking here is that I may as well be building the soil for future use while at the same time I am trying to create optimal growth conditions for my lightless plants. I want them to waste all the energy possible trying to grow. By adding decaying matter I am adding nutrients, concentrated CO2, worm food and raising the moisture holding capability of the ground optimizing for growth but without light. Any time I have it uncovered to deal with plants poking up around the edges water for good growth and sprinkle some more leaves or grass clippings on the surface of the ground for best worm food. Worms love this protected habitat with no care. That much is obvious from the tracks when a sheet is lifted. So if they are getting good food on a regular basis they should breed like crazy. Now I might uncover the area for a bit in the spring and maybe late fall with the goal of sprouting any seeds that would sprout. The minute I saw any kind of green growth recover it so no plant builds energy. At the end of this I should have ground that has been undisturbed for at least 2 years(and likely more) for good decay fungal growth , with good organic content, lots of worm activity and the surface seeds mostly germinated to death. This should be about as close as possible to the ideal place to start new bed when finished. That leaves one question that I think I would try both ways. In the past I have always removed the plants once they poked up around an edge. The thinking was that I was taking all of that energy out of the system and the plant would have to start over from scratch. But I wonder if maybe instead I should be coiling the bindweed back to the middle. The thinking this way is the more plant it has to support the faster it should starve to death. So if I can get 20 or 50 feet of bind weed curled in a circle in the middle under the sheet the roots have to maintain all that plant which should drain them faster. The little spurts of energy of getting around the edge of the sheet will go to more and more plant till it bleeds itself dry. Since it mostly only grows from the tip taking the tips back to the middle is giving basicallythe same distance that must be grown that pulling it does minus the bit of root pulled. Maybe off center the plant tip so it is pointed east but closer to the west edge of the sheet so it actually will likely grow farther than from the middle to escape? I think I would try this last two both ways to see which got better results.

The only other permies compatible method that I know works is pigs. Pigs will kill nearly anything short of trees if kept in concentrated pen with it long enough. Keep the ground watered so they can root around. Pen pigs over the patch for a couple years and you can kill it. Any root that pokes its head up they will kill and dig out down a bit besides. You will end up with basically dead soil but you get rid of the bindweed in the process. We had big patches of bindweed in a corn field that we put pigs on for a single summer. They reduced the size of the patch by about half for the next year and even where it grew, it was thinner.

Finally a possible method to try from something strange I have noticed in the garden over the last few years. Because of various family health problems the garden has been way under utilized the last few years. So figuring I was building organic I have been watering weeds and mowing to limit seed production. The first year there were a bunch of small clumps of lawn grass from using seedy grass the year before as mulch in the garden. Figuring I could transplant those back out I mowed around most of those the first few years till they got big enough to go to seed and them mowed them to scatter the seed. That means over about 5 years I have covered about 1/3 of the garden in lawn grass by doing nothing but mowing and watering.(my garden is way better lawn than my bit of real lawn) Now it happens to be the third where I had bind weed problems the worst and along to nanking cherry rows where I had really bad bindweed problems. The lawn grass mixed with a bit of brome and a bit of a something similar to sword grass that isn't a bunch grass has crawled out under the nanking cherries. As this grass has spread the bindweed has disappeared. At first I thought it was simply hiding down in the grass but I looked for it this last summer and it is gone. So my question is: Will lawn grass push out bindweed over time?? Easy enough to try. Take a shovel full of established turf and plant it close to where you want to take the bindweed out and encourage it to spread.

Bindweed and morning glory are different plants. Bindweed is harder to kill because it does more tiers of root layers in the ground but morning glory spreads faster from seed.

While you may be able to burn it down with lime I can tell you that my unmodified soil pH is 8.7-8.8 with high salt content and heavy clay and bindweed grows fine in it so low boosts in soil pH will not work.


 
Gary Finch
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Hi, i cleared bindweed from an allotment by covering the 'infected' soil with a double layer of corugated cardboard and topping this with old carpet which excluded light but allowed moisture through. Physical removal began in the autumn by working on a square metre at a time - lifting the cardboard and carpet and forking the ground exposed the thick white roots which in their dormant state remain whole and easy to remove. working a meter at a time through the autumn and winter followed by an organic mulch left the soil ready for planting up in the spring. I limited the spread of roots (in the springtime) from uncleared soil by digging a trench and lining it with old compost bags. It's very important to resist the desire to carry on in the spring as this is when the roots become very brittle and easily broken, as well as having tiny new growth that is hard to spot. As i had a back problem it took a couple of years - the unintended consequence of this was that because the roots were excluded from light they gradually came to the surface making the last few metres very easy to deal with.
 
Bonnie Johnson
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HI,

There a quite a few plants including bindweed that I do not have where ever the goats are pastured continuously. Bindweed is one of them. Lambsquarters are another. Blackberry vines don't stand a chance with goats.
Multiflora roses disappear and seek new places to live where ever my goats can get to them constantly. Hence, I rotate my goats through pastures so that they don't kill the blackberries, multiflora, and this other invasive bush
with red berries but no thorns are in my pastures. The bindweed is just gone unless my goats cant get to it. I actually look at most invasive weeds are great goat fodder and wish I could grow it faster. I am probably going to
plant some Russian Red Merlot Ameranth this year to help have more abundant fodder for my goats in places that were kill zones where I had hay feeders over the winter for the horse, cows and goats.

I could not let my goats eat the azalea bushs as those were poisonous, so I cut it back as far as I could with the pruners and then I threw a tarp over it and held the sides down with some logs. No more azalea bush.

I tend to use my goats, chickens, pigs, cows and horses to take care of what people call weeds. Sometimes I eat the weeds to.

Good luck, I understand that some people can't have goats. Try a propane weed burner or continuously cut the bindweed off and either let the remains hang there or burn them. It will die eventually. If you don't have
goats you will have out stubborn it.

 
Steven Feil
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Lambs Quarters is a GREAT and TASTY edible that is FULL of minerals.

There is some anecdotal information on bindweed in cancer treatments. Type bindweed cancer into a search engine for more information.
http://csn.cancer.org/node/221679
 
Julia Winter
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The perennial bindweed in the PNW is different than the bindweed I had in Wisconsin. That was annoying, but never got as huge as what I've got in my 11000 sq ft Portland property. I find mulch to be sort of helpful.

It's only sort of helpful, because the bindweed loves to run under the mulch, but at least it's easy to pull. I can get tree trimmings for free, and the fluffy soil that results from wood chips plus time makes it easy to pull the bindweed.

My best strategy is to fill the location with a different, aggressive plant that I like better. Turf grass is described above, and it's true, where I am mowing I don't have much in the way of bindweed (some, but it's not getting anywhere). I've got bindweed inside all of my hugelkultur beds (more's the pity) and although it might twine along a daylily frond (I have daylilies along the very top of a small hugel bed in my front yard) it's pretty easy to pull those. I can keep it under control with once a month weeding. Persistence is key.

Remember, Paul's advice is to keep going over the same patch of ground, and then work over from that. Slowly, you will clear that patch and can keep expanding from there. In other words, you always check square A, then move on to squares B, C, D, etc. A week later, you go over square A before you work on B and so on. It shouldn't take long to go over that first part, but you don't want to let the weed recover.

I've tried filling my tumbling composter with bindweed along with a bunch of other greens. We'll see if it gets hot enough to kill the roots! If not, I'll just keep putting it in the municipal compost container. . .
 
Kristine Farley
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Thank you for your ideas. I am going to try pigs & goats when we get them. But for now I am going to use lime.
Does anyone know if it will also work for buttercup?
I live SE of Seattle in the foothills of Mt Rainer. Beautiful, but these to are the bane of my yard and garden.
 
Nicole Alderman
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Kristine Farley wrote:Thank you for your ideas. I am going to try pigs & goats when we get them. But for now I am going to use lime.
Does anyone know if it will also work for buttercup?
I live SE of Seattle in the foothills of Mt Rainer. Beautiful, but these to are the bane of my yard and garden.


I've heard of a lot of people successfully out-competing buttercup with lime. I haven't tried it myself, yet, but I haven't heard of anyone who tried who didn't have it help a lot.
 
nancy sutton
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Just ran across something in 'The 2% Solution' by Courtney ?White?... it is really good...gives an overview of 50 'enchanting' ways to regenerate on bigger scales... really floats my boat :

One of the articles explained how a gal teaches cows to eat invasive weeds... including bindweed !!! (and thistle, for Montanans), etc. Basically, it is giving cows a tub of 'candy' for a couple of days, then adding the weeds, increasing the percentage from 5% to 100%...(takes a couple of weeks?) cows then discover that 'new' stuff is very nutritious, and that guides their food selection in the field. Plus, a few cows will quickly 'teach' dozens... and the 'knowledge' is retained/learned in future generations. She explains how cows choose what to eat, and uses that knowledge in her process. Great stuff!!
 
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