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Alison Thomas
pollinator
Posts: 933
Location: France
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Since knowing permies.com, I have been increasingly more tolerant of 'weeds'.  Indeed many of them are as others call them 'plants in the wrong place'.  I've even been moving some to the 'right' place and cherishing them.  I'm now eating some like dandelions and fat hen.

However, there are a few that I am unsure what to do with.  Namely thistles (canadian/scottish mostly), bindweed and senecio (that wild yellow one that's supposedly poisonous to livestock). 

The thistles and senecio are 'controlled weeds' by law here so I have an onus on me to do something with them.  But what?  When they were smaller I was doing chop n drop with them and they frizzled up in the sun - is that enough for those to have died?  But now some are in flower, almost seed.  I had heard that you could steep the remains in water in make a very nutritious plant tonic from them - has anyone else heard of this, or is doing it even? 

And what about the pulled up bits of bindweed?  Will they just be OK to be left to frazzle in the sun?  I'm on their case and when they are about 6 inches long I gently pull thm at soil level and a nice big bit of root comes out too    I'm hoping that after 10 years of doing this they will get the message that they're not really welcome here. 

Or are there things I don't know about these 3 'beasties' that could make them endeared to me should I find out?
 
Suzie Browning
Posts: 48
Location: Southwestern Ohio
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Thistle - I read somewhere here on Permies.com to cut them while they were in bloom.  Something about it affecting the roots because of the blooms.  I've just tried this year so I can't say how much it will help yet.  Cutting them down over the years seems to have help to make my patch smaller, but yes, it has taken years.

Same with the bindweed, keep pulling.  My patch seemed to disaappeard quicker than the thistles, but it still took a couple of years and every now and then one will pop up in that area.  Heavy (really heavy) mulch seemed to help too.

I wish you much patience!

 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9741
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Most thistles are biennial so if you cut down the seedstalk they won't tend to come back the following year, though you may have to cut it multiple times during their blooming year, as they keep wanting to make seeds!

Even hateful weeds like Johnson Grass will die if you leave the roots to bake in the sun.
 
                              
Posts: 6
Location: Sequim. WA
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Are there any nutritional benefits to thistles?

We have a problem with some extremely nasty plants.  Hogweed keeps popping up along an irrigation ditch, and we had a patch of water hemlock.

The water hemlock seems to be major bad news.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9741
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Thistles are edible and have some vitamins and minerals.  They aren't bad-tasting in my limited experience

http://www.foragingtexas.com/2008/08/thistle.html
 
Isaac Hill
gardener
Posts: 357
Location: Beaver County, Pennsylvania (~ zone 6)
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I've heard you can make teas with some thistles.
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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I have neither, but there's bindweed next door, so it's only a matter of time...
I'd be too nervous to 'fry' it: I'd dump it straight into the barrel of nasty corms, roots and stolons marinating in pongy water.
 
nancy sutton
gardener
Posts: 659
Location: Federal Way, WA - Western Washington (Zone 8 - temperate maritime)
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Maybe OT, but Leila, I put my 'dangerous' plant remnants (bindweed, quack grass, horsetail, scilla and grape hyacinth bulbs, etc.)  in a barrel of water to permanently drown = pongy water?  Question.... have you noticed any ill (or good?) effects from watering plants with pongy water? 
 
Haru Yasumi
Posts: 102
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Nancy Sutton wrote:
Maybe OT, but Leila, I put my 'dangerous' plant remnants (bindweed, quack grass, horsetail, scilla and grape hyacinth bulbs, etc.)  in a barrel of water to permanently drown = pongy water?  Question.... have you noticed any ill (or good?) effects from watering plants with pongy water? 


I wondered if she meant this too.  Anyone with experience with this ever run into tricky plants that just keep growing in the water?  I have a tub of water I filled with mint scraps to see if they'd grow and now it's a whole colony of mint growing up out of there and wondered if I'd risk this with say some scillas or other difficult-to-kill plants.  Maybe it's all about depth.
 
nancy sutton
gardener
Posts: 659
Location: Federal Way, WA - Western Washington (Zone 8 - temperate maritime)
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Oh, I did jury-rig a weighted plastic screen to keep the plant material good and drowned below surface level   - very anaerobic   I'm just apprehensive about whether it has become plant poison... if comphrey, nettles, etc. don't make noxious teas, I don't suppose the 'bad' guys would, either.... ?
 
Alison Thomas
pollinator
Posts: 933
Location: France
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Not OT atall Nancy.  I'd had the question in my original post.  I'm thinking that the plant has minerals etc in it, that the seeds have goodness in them, and if they get marinaded like nettles/comfrey then they'll be good too.  BUT, like you I'd like to hear from someone who does it.

Hmmm yes some things still have a habit of thriving even when submerged in water don't they!

The 'tea' referred to higher up? Is it for humans (me not keen) or for plants?
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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I submerge everything and cover it. No air and no light should be too much for the toughest plants.
I 'd put the soup through the compost heap. I don't want some anaerobic vs. aerobic bacteria battle...
Also to minimise human-to-slop contact: I really, really don't want it on me, or my clothes!
BTW, I've been told the amazing stench of things like comfrey and dock is because they're really high in protein, which makes for more nutritious microorganism snacks I suppose.
So basically, the worse it smells, the better it is.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
Posts: 995
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
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Most of the weeds that have been mentioned should be fine for the 'pongy' water, but don't do that with water hemlock or it's relatives -- they are too deadly poisonous.  I'm not sure what you would do with them, maybe make a burn pile with some brush and toss the poisonous plants on top where they were exposed and let them dry until time to burn the whole pile.  Not sure how poisonous the smoke might be, though (I know the smoke from burning poison ivy/oak/sumac is also poisonous).

Kathleen
 
Daniel Ashley
Posts: 9
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I know milk thistle is a natural way to cleanse the liver.. I doubt you got as lucky to have that randomly pop up in your lawn 
 
                              
Posts: 13
Location: NH
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It's all about the soil, you need calcium, vitamin b12, sugars and organic matter.  Something like bindweed won't go away otherwise unless you force it out, which will damage your soil more.  Good luck!
 
jacque greenleaf
pollinator
Posts: 489
Location: Burton, WA (USDA zone 8, Sunset zone 5) - old hippie heaven
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I leave thistles be, unless they are actively impeding something, because goldfinches adore the seeds, and I adore goldfinches.

A solid stand of thistles is a sign of abused soil. Fix the soil, and the thistles will retreat.
 
                                
Posts: 98
Location: Eastern Colorado, USA
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Bindweed can be kept to very low levels by introducing these neat little bugs that eat it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bindweed_gall_mite

Thistle is a signal that your soil is compacted and lacks nitrogen availability.  But it's rather useful if you don't mind giving it a little space.
 
ellen rosner
Posts: 136
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I found this about bindweed:

"Believe it or not, even this garden villain has a few uses. You can use pieces of bindweed as ties in place of twine when tying and staking plants. The flowers (which are actually very pretty) attract beneficial insects, and exude a soft fragrance. The leaves and stems can be used to make an all-natural dye, and there are also accounts of the roots being brewed as a tea to relieve constipation."

---I think I'll pass on these virtues. 

And the seeds remain viable for 30 years!

Getting rid of it:

Vigilance and persistence are the two most useful weapons in your arsenal against bindweed. Watch for signs of this vine, and remove it as quickly as possible. The best way to get rid of bindweed is to cut it off at soil level. Don't bother pulling it up; it will just sprout wherever you tore the roots (and you will. It's impossible to get all of the roots out.) By continually cutting it off at ground level, and doing it as soon as you possibly can, you will eventually starve the plant (since it will be unable to photosynthesize) and it will die. Be patient! You will have to do this several times, but it will work.

http://organicgardening.about.com/od/weeds/p/Bindweed.htm


 
            
Posts: 177
Location: California
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We have milk thistle coming out our ears in the valley if anyone wants some free seed. Bad year for goatheads, too, though I can't imagine anyone wanting to cultivate those (though I do recall reading somewhere the Chinese make a tea or something from it). They cultivate milk thistle as well for the seeds, from which they make medicine(s?).

I concur with the previous post that the best way to get the morning glories is to chop them at surface level. Repeatedly. And they will come back. Again.. and again. I do however intend to stick one in a pot this year.. the flowers are massive and actually quite lovely.
 
ellen rosner
Posts: 136
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the more I pull bindweed, the more I have.

I think next year I'll pull up my flowers and herbs and let the bindweed take over. Then when folks ask me what I'm growing, I'll say I'm growing bindweed, and they'll say, well you're certainly successful.     

ugh
 
Jeff Mathias
Posts: 125
Location: Westport, CA Zone 8-9; Off grid on 20 acres of redwood forest and floodplain with a seasonal creek.
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Remember Artichokes are in the thistle family also, so they should grow reasonably well anywhere other thistles are already growing.

 
                        
Posts: 508
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funguy wrote:


We have a problem with some extremely nasty plants.  Hogweed keeps popping up along an irrigation ditch, and we had a patch of water hemlock.

The water hemlock seems to be major bad news.


Both of them are major bad news. All parts of water hemlock are extremely poisonous and Hogweed can cause blindness if not just an violent rash like poison ivy rash to the nth degree, or so the alerts around Canada say. Also, it throws thousands of seeds and can survive almost anywhere so it will become much more invasive than water hemlock tends to be. You do NOT want to let any of it, but the sap especially, touch you anywhere.

The "authorities" here say that if you cut off the flowering heads that it will eventually die, but I couldn't find anywhere that said what on earth you were supposed to do with them once you did that.

I found several specimens of a plant that looked like it was going to be invasive  that nobody around her could identify (came in on a load of hay from out of the area) and I put them all in big garden bags, sealed the bags and into the garbage for the dump as the only way I could think of that wouldn't allow for any spread at all.

I wouldn't put them into compost, personally. and some plants will set seed in a last gasp when uprooted and left to dry. I have seen thistle do this..the stems and leaves will put everything into a last ditch effort to set viable seed. A flower which was barely into the flowering sequence actually developed and set seed although the rest of the plant was withered up and bone dry. These plants are TOUGH.
 
Peter Ingot
Posts: 131
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Nancy Sutton wrote:
Maybe OT, but Leila, I put my 'dangerous' plant remnants (bindweed, quack grass, horsetail, scilla and grape hyacinth bulbs, etc.)  in a barrel of water to permanently drown = pongy water?  Question.... have you noticed any ill (or good?) effects from watering plants with pongy water? 


It can be a fantastic plant tonic. I've had good results
 
Peter Ingot
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Leila Rich wrote:
I submerge everything and cover it. No air and no light should be too much for the toughest plants.
I 'd put the soup through the compost heap. I don't want some anaerobic vs. aerobic bacteria battle...
Also to minimise human-to-slop contact: I really, really don't want it on me, or my clothes!
BTW, I've been told the amazing stench of things like comfrey and dock is because they're really high in protein, which makes for more nutritious microorganism snacks I suppose.
So basically, the worse it smells, the better it is.


The smell is  ammonia being lost to the air,so maybe straw or sawdust to lock it up and reduce the smell might be a good idea?. I've heard you  can make pongless comfrey tea by pressing it and collecting the juice(an old  sink, a board and some rocks). Maybe this would work with weeds too?
 
Peter Ingot
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Alison Freeth-Thomas wrote:
These days I  cut them and pull them and feed them to my goats and donkey. They love them. Garden weeds seem to be rich in nutrients.

I mulch with cardboard but bindweed seems to force its way through most mulches unless they are  very  thick
Many weeds are plants of rich disturbed soil and don't handle being cut or grazed when in competition with grasses,so putting a weed infested part of the garden back to grass for a year or two and cutting it or  grazing it is a solution if the problem is really bad. If managed right (cut but not too close) grass can suppress many weeds, a strip of mown grass can intercept weeds creeping in from neighbouring areas.
 
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