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weed advice needed

 
ellen kardl
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I have Mallow overtaking my garden and pasture. It's the one fricking thing I would go out and buy a bottle of RoundUp for, I'm so sick of it's incredible spreading powers and mile long tap roots. Yah yah, tap roots breaking up the soil, good for them, but I can make do with my impacted soil, thank you very much. As a ground cover it would be fine if it wasn't so invasive, because it's low to the ground and doesn't shade out the veggies, but I'm thinking it would be a really bad idea to just let it go. Thoughts? Just keep pulling?

And while we're on the subject — thistles. I let one damn thistle go to seed last year, and now they are everywhere. Are they useful for anything? No fun pulling up, for sure. Thanks!
 
Tyler Ludens
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Some (most?all?) mallows are edible - be sure you know what plant it is before you try eating it.  Thistles are also edible.  Thistle seed is beloved by birds.

http://www.foragingtexas.com/2008/08/mallow.html

http://www.foragingtexas.com/2008/08/thistle.html
 
Jordan Lowery
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our chickens love mallow, its also great for the compost pile and mulch. as you can chop it to the ground and collect. then in a week or so you can do it again, and so on. lots of biomass produced.
 
Travis Philp
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IF its the type of mallow that H Ludi posted a link about, I'd consider you in luck. Nature planted you salad greens/smoothy ingredients.

From what I understand, that particular mallow doesn't have tap roots, but underground runner roots that stay near the surface of the soil. What about clearing some circular patches of the mallow and planting something that'll grow taller and/or have deeper roots that won't have to compete at the same root zone as the mallow (eg. sunflower, pole beans, cucumbers on trellis etc.) Throw a spot of mulch on the circle, clear juuust enough of it away for the seeds to pop up through, and keep an eye on it.

If you really want it gone that bad, and you're going to use a spray PLEASE use vinegar instead of round up. I've read a university study which concluded that a 50/50 mix of vinegar and water worked just as effectively against weds as roundup did, with the added benefit of nitrogen released into the soil for your next crop.

Or just bury it with a foot or two of mulch...
 
ellen kardl
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Wasn't serious about the RoundUp 

Thanks for that link about its use H Ludi! I'll pull it for the hens and try it myself.
 
rose macaskie
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 Some one said that mallow likes rich soils and i had heard that thistles grow on poor ones, so what you say makes me wonder about what others have said, are your thistles in the same area as your mallows?  
  If mallows like rich soil that  would mean mallows grow where vegetables would like to grow. Maybe you are over feeding your soils, they certainly aren't very persisten in me garden, but then I have trouble growing vegetables there.  More or less manure does change the plants that come up hard as it is for me to believe it.
   I believe, which is to say have noticed but can harldy credit, that where i have put on horse manure dandylions came up. Certainly a mallow came up where my husband put manure on a bit of land that no weed had ever grown on. It was not the only thing that suddenly came up but it was one of the things that sprouted the minute there was nitrogen in the soil. I found this interesting like thrilling, it seems the seed lies there in the soil and only sprouts when there is enough nitrogen in the soil.
     I dont think anyone has to keep their weeds except that they are great to cut for mulch. and if things are really bad they may be your best bet, and if you want a green mulch there seed is maybe the easiest thing to get, I just talked about keeping your weeds so that people consider the possibility, not so they felt obliged to keep them and I definately dont think they have to keep all of them, the ones they dont like too,  though i feel bad about getting rid of the ones i dont like and often  just leave them i would nt press other to do the same as i do in this.  
Weeds in waste lands can be less nice than country weeds but maybe you just have to trust in nature and that she will in the ends bring in a pretty collectiion of weeds. birds bring in all sorts of things.
   If you look up mallows they are good for your health, they increase your resistance to illnes and are good for sore throats and intestines and have more properties. agri rose macaskie.  
 
 
 
rose macaskie
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    I have books for identifying or talking about the natural plants of Spain and they mention whether or not a plant is to be found on good land or land that has degenerated. This is more evidence that vegetation changes as the soil changes. The books say things like this grow in olive groves that are degenerating and such.
      Thistles have deep roots i read, according to Joseph Coccanoua, but inspiring as his works are and basically sound in the ideas he presents I am not sure if he is to be believed when he talks about how big plant roots are because other sources contradict him about some of the plants he refers to as hiving deep roots. .
      So thistles would break up your soil at some depth.and also would feed donkeys and goats and us, a man in Cataluña keeps donkeys, he gives a home to donkeys that no longer have homes, these reduce the undergrowth that is a fire risk in the woods behind his house.
      It maybe that once the soil has got better the thistles would just stop coming up because something else then grows more vigorously there and takes their place without you doing anything about it. It is interesting to watch how one plant takes the place of another in the fullness of time, in a wild area, if your garden is big enough to have such an area.
    My experience is that you only have to decide you want to eat something for it to disappear, so just decide your thistles are as good as artichokes and they will disappear. I have no idea if you can or can't use all thistles as artichokes I just had a friend who tried some and said they were good.
    Just desire more weeds to cut for mulch and they will probably disappear. agri rose macaskie.
 
Tyler Ludens
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rose macaskie wrote:
   
     Just desire more weeds to cut for mulch and they will probably disappear.


  This is so true!  I would LOVE to have more weeds.  Nothing is growing, it is so dry here, not even weeds will grow. 
 
rose macaskie
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ludi tyler Ii am sorry it is os dry where you are. Is there anything you can do cover everything with shade cloth or some such unatural and cumbersome and so not too permaculture method.? agri rose macaskie.
 
Terri Matthews
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Tistles are invasive biennials. The first year they make a circle of prickly leaves, then they make a fat root like a carrot (it is also edible), then the next year they set up a thick stalk with a nectar rich flower for the bees. Then they set thistle seeds which I hear birds love.

You have my deep sympathy. In the midwest the biggest invasive weed is grass. Grass LOVES the midwest, it is why farmers grow corn and wheat (both members of the grass family) I have something called Johnson grass that I pull every few days, because the alternative is to let it have my vegetable garden. I have not found a permaculture solution to Johnson grass, and it grows 5 feet high and shades out the vegetables if you let it.
 
ellen kardl
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Anything that's invasive makes me nervous. My first year with thistles, I let one single plant to into the flowering stage — it was just gorgeous, almost a bush, about 3 feet tall and covered with purple flowers. Okay fine, should have been chopped down at that stage, cause once the seeds dry they WILL disperse. I had goats, they wouldn't go near em, too prickly.

Another amazing weed I'm dealing with are those DAMNailanthus trees. If you catch them while they are small you can just mow over them. Amazingly invasive. Also thorny locust trees (and I don't think these are the "good", dense locust.
 
rose macaskie
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Are things much more invasive in one climate than another i cut down the blackberries and too my suprise that keeps them down for a while, sometimes. I think the summmer is so dry if i cut them down just before the summer they wont be able to handle the drought and being cut borth together but i am never sure of any experiments, things seem to work one year and not the next. I do let weeds grow and have not had an invasion yet but i expect one one day, which is to forget the brambles i am always cutting down, i have come to consider that good exercise.
    THere was a good bit of writing permaculture writing on a cracking soils plain in Australia i cant find the title just now, and they said that before the plains had been cultivated they had been covered in grass so high you could tie them round you saddle it seems when this grass covered the ground the land had not been so dry and cracked.
    You have tall grass I have been hearing about temperate climate grasses that have deep roots and so bare dry bouts, i want to know more about them do you know about different types of grasses? rose. 
 
Terri Matthews
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I MIGHT have seen that picture: on one side of the fence there was grass and on the other side of the fence it was bare dirt because of overgrazing?

With overgrazing the soil becomes compacted and hard, and there is no longer organic matter. New plants cannot get their roots into the soil.

With a covering of grass the roots have already broken up the ground, and the soil bacteria and tiny life forms also live in the soil and maintain the soil structure.  When it rains the water seeps into the soil instead of running off.  With good soil and enough water, the grass remains healthy.

Such rather dry pastures can be grazed, but not to the point of killing the grass. If the vegetation dies, the soil will become compacted and non productive.
 
Tyler Ludens
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rose macaskie wrote:
they said that before the plains had been cultivated they had been covered in grass so high you could tie them round you saddle it seems when this grass covered the ground the land had not been so dry and cracked.


That was the situation here in Central Texas, which used to be mixed prairie with a good bit of Tallgrass Prairie with grass as tall as a horse's shoulders.  Now it is all short or mid-grass and scrub juniper/oak because of overgrazing.  Used to be springs all around and lots of year-round creeks.  Now many creeks are dry except in wet years. 
 
Terri Matthews
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rose macaskie wrote:
  and they said that before the plains had been cultivated they had been covered in grass so high you could tie them round you saddle it seems when this grass covered the ground the land had not been so dry and cracked.
     You have tall grass I have been hearing about temperate climate grasses that have deep roots and so bare dry bouts, i want to know more about them do you know about different types of grasses? rose. 

I actually know some abouthis, as I live in Kansas and the information is there if you look for it, and I have.

Eastern Kansas has 2-3 bone dry months. Many of the native grasses grow VERY tall, and therefor have very deep roots.

When it stops raining mid-summer the top couple of feet of soil become very dry, but since some of the native grasses and plants have roots that are many feet deep. The plant with roots that deep is VERY drought resistant, and it stays healthy and so does the soil.There is grass for the animals and a great stockpile of feed to last the grazing animals for the winter. This is a very healthy balance in my part of the midwest.


Favorite farm crops include corn which ALSO has very deep roots, and winter wheat that bears grain at about the time the rain stops. The farmers leave the stubble on the ground to protect the soil from wind. The soil is then plowed to a fine tilth at the very last minute, just before planting.

Far North of me where it is dryer, the grass does not grow as tall. If it is overgrazed the wind will blow away the dry soil during the windy part of the year. Right now farmers leave their cropland a little rough during the winter to prevent this. The soil may be turned, but they only turn it roughly so that there are large clods of earth, with the corn stubble only half buried. This is to prevent erosion.

In my back yard I do not kill the clover and the other weeds, and if I do not trim vegetation in the the fence lines the grass wiill grow between 3 feet tall and 5 feet tall, depending on the variety of grasses.

I do not remember most of the names of the tall grasses, but I believe one of them is called "Big blue stem". Red Top is also tall but not as much so: I forget the others.
 
                                      
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hi,

so, i thought i'll share this link from a website about weeds in this thread.

http://journeytoforever.org/farm_library/weeds/WeedsToC.html
(from the small farms library, http://journeytoforever.org/farm_library.html )

it is pretty pro-weeds, exept for japanese knotweed, which is extremely invasive here in europe.
---------------------------------------------------
[disclaimer: the following may be kicking down open doors for most of us, but i thought i'd share it just for the occasional newby that visits]

When i get asked about weeds by people who have just started to get orientated on permaculture and a different approach to weeds, there are a few things i try to emphasize:

Being tolerant about weeds does nót mean 'not weeding at all'. It dóes mean that we will never, 'just pull it out', or go frantic on weeding the same weed in the same patch year in year out.

i say this because people tend to be reeled into PC by enthusiasts claiming that 'you never have to weed again', or 'pc means not having to work at the garden ever again, letting nature do its thing and produce your food'. and while there áre design goals for the longer term (less work and less weeding), not many a permaculturalist has perfected their design to a state where they no longer do any weeding at all. especially in zone 1 elements like kitchen gardens and herb-spirals etc., any place where the focus is on annuals, weeding is a part of increasing yield.

There can be different attitudes towards weeds in different zone's, in zone 1 we will do most weeding.

We want to eat, so in our vegetable patches/kitchen gardens you dont want chickweed and lambsquarters sprouting and quickly shading out stuff sown for harvest. especially when you ve just sown/planted out, you want to give the head start to crop plants.

Even though chickweed and lambsquarters make great eating, i want to eat more than just that.

when we are dealing with lots of weeds coming up, before weeding them out we try to think about what their role in ecology is, many weeds will tell us something about the conditions, especially soil conditions, we're in.

Many weeds actually influence the soil and will try to repair whatever kind of unbalance exists. It will add certain minerals to the soil, or usurp an excess of certain nutrients. Some can brake open compacted soils with their roots, some will prevent erosion of loose soils by spreading thin roots everywhere and keeping small parts from washing away.

So when a certain weed is very present, or even dominant somewhere, we might ask ourselves what it wants to do, what it is repairing (if so). We might choose not to intervene and let the weeds to their job, when this piece of land is too important for income or food production we could choose to grow (cultivated) food-crops that have similar functions as the weeds that come up by their own.

For example cardoon or (globe) artichokes to replace thistle, or replace pigweed with garden orache. Or we might help the unbalance be balanced in other ways (if we see weeds trying to get N into the soil, we might want to add more n-fixing species, or n-rich mulch, or add manure).

Sometimes keeping some weed after your crop became big enough will help retain a moist soil when the heat of summer arrives, sometimes it will mean competition with your crops for the water in the soil, and needs to be taken out.

Most important is that we dont immidiatly weed out all weeds, just because they're weeds, and thats what we are taught to do with weeds.
1. think about not taking it out, work that doesnt need to be done shouldnt be done. <<< it's work!
2. think about what it is doing, if this is beneficial to you. And if so, how you can make sure this function is covered otherwise if you are not keeping them.
3. think of uses for them; edible, medicinal, composting, commercial (in one of pauls vids pilarski is telling him how he is making money on 'volunteers', as he calls them).

if a battle with ground elder or horsetail on part of your land is what you are dealing with, consider a controlled natural succesion towards climax vegetation (eg food forest or edible praire, depending on where you are). all weeds are pioneer species that can only thrive in pioner communities where there's lots of sun and some bare earth, and not too much perrenials.

cheers,
 
Terri Matthews
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That is a very good article.

I KNOW that the land that used to have a feed lot on it will not grow vegetation well, but I had been thinking in terms of salts and ammonia. I also know that these things will leach out in the rain, but you can still tell what used to house cattle by how the grass and such will not grow.

I had not thought that it might be excessivly compacted by the hooves of the cattle, because there were no roots to break it up.

Where I live the soil is mostly very high in clay, and it compacts easily. But, we rarely see compacted soil in our gardens, only where feed lots used to be. I suppose that would be because the roots of Big Blue Stem grass has been replaced by the roots of corn and string beans. It is true that we weed, but the roots of the grasses and weeds are simoly replaced by the roots of the vegetables.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Joop Corbin - swomp wrote:

if a battle with ground elder or horsetail on part of your land is what you are dealing with, consider a controlled natural succesion towards climax vegetation (eg food forest or edible praire, depending on where you are).


Where can I find more information about "edible prairie"?  Has anyone ever developed one?

Thanks. 

 
Brenda Groth
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eat the mallows, feed them to your animals, the deer, whoever, and remember if you cannot get rid of them (don't let them to go seed) that they do bring up a lot of nutrients from below ground.

 
                                      
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hi,


hmmm, i dont know much about edible prairie's since where i live the climax vegetation type is forest/meadow, but a quick internet search engine gave me these results as first hits:

http://edibleprairiejournal.blogspot.com/

www.saskpulse.com/media/pdfs/080707_Edible_Prairie_Journal.pdf

http://www.gardenswest.com/qry/page.taf?id=30&_function=atcldetail&sbtatcl_uid1=1994

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Edible-Prairie-Plants-Gardens-Vegetables/dp/189725220X

---
mallow is something that many dutch (and i guess english) permies actually sow.
there are some nice varieties like musk mallow available here.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Thanks.  Looks more like a food forest, but, oh well! 
 
                                      
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hmmm, yeah indeed..!?! weird.

i dont know much of prairie, but i imagine that mimicking prairie ecology would probably mean incorporating big grazing animals.... but i wouldnt want to build my diet around beef, but thats just me....

i have read some article aout edible backyard prairies, (that actually looked like prairie that is) but cant find right now.
 
Burra Maluca
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I'd be interested in learning more about 'edible prairies' too.  I'm still working on establishing my food forest, but I also have a pretty well untouched ten acre patch of grassland that's being taken over by scrub and, as the grasslands seem to be disappearing under eucalyptus and pine, I'd like to establish some kind of grass-based system on that ten acres.  One day.  After all the other projects are under control.  And I've got myself organised...
 
Terri Matthews
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Burra Maluca wrote:
I'd be interested in learning more about 'edible prairies' too.  I'm still working on establishing my food forest, but I also have a pretty well untouched ten acre patch of grassland that's being taken over by scrub and, as the grasslands seem to be disappearing under eucalyptus and pine, I'd like to establish some kind of grass-based system on that ten acres.  One day.  After all the other projects are under control.  And I've got myself organised...
I have a similar parcel: I have grasslands with cedar and osage orange (not edible: they only LOOK like oranges!).

I have been successfull establishing daffodils and asparagus. The asparagus yields just about half of what it would in my garden, but established asparagus is still a very fine thing! And, I can still mow every few years to control the cedar. I am afraid the Osage Orange must be poisoned to get rid of it: mosing it just bakes it bushy.

That is the parcel that I put American Plum on: it will be a good 9 months before I know if it is going to survive the summer dryness or the winter cold.
 
                                      
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when i mentioned edible prairies i meant that in a context of, as opposed to edible forests.

i mean, when you are in a part of the world (most parts i think) where the climax vegetation is prairie, edible prairies would probably be the way to go, when youre in a part where field-forest is the climax ecology, that would be the best way to go.

outside prairie country we still have grasslands, but they function different.
Here (the netherlands) natural grasslands are more meadows in/with woodlands. mimicing this, (edible meadow, or grazed meadow, or edible herbaceouc patches alternating forest patches) is mimicing a different type of natural system than prairies.

while a lot is published about tropical food forests and temperate food-forests (which, where sun is an issue, are usually food-forest-edges, young woodland, and woodland-meadow) the whole edible prairie thing hasn't been much explored.

In 'a farm for the future' a farm with a mimicry of natural grassland/meadow is being shown, but that was really used for grazing. I suspect that animals just give you a much higher edibility output if it comes to grasslands.
the same probably goesd for tundra-type ecology
 
Terri Matthews
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I suppose that a person could look up what the Indians ate.

I BELIEVE that they are chokecherry, yucca, plums, arrowroot, and the root of the perrenial morning glory.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Yes, slowly gathering information about what plants from this prairie region are edible.  Obtaining seeds of them is more difficult, many are extremely rare, having been grazed out by livestock. 
 
Matu Collins
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Common mallow is one of my very favorite greens to put in a mix. It has a lovely mild taste and slightly mucilaginous texture that goes especially well with bitter spicy and sour leaves. I love it with spicy mustard and young yellow dock.

It is supposedly soothing to the digestive tract and to sore throats.

I find it doesn't take over here at all but that's probably because I like it so much! The fruits (little round flat pale yellow/cream colored things) are also edible and very nice in a salad, and if you eat those you will be eating the future mallow population.

Thistles are annoying because of the prickles but they are good dynamic accumulators as has been said and the birds love the seeds. I also like the way they look in winter.

I have my frustrations with one weed or another but with time and good mulching the weed pressure grows more manageable. That said, I can relate to your frustration! I keep reading these forums and asking questions and it keeps getting better and better.
 
Leila Rich
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Apparently a species of mallow known as Mulukhiyah is highly valued as a cooked vegetable in the Middle East.
 
it's a teeny, tiny, wafer thin ad:
The stocking stuffer game for all your Permaculture companions
http://www.FoodForestCardGame.com
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