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Smothering weeds

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  • Paola Lucchesi
    ... and ... Has anybody tried this method on other weeds , specifically, broadleaf dock and dandelions? They have very strong and very deep roots, I have a
    Message 1 of 2 , Nov 11, 2005
      > One thing that works quite well is to cut the grass as short as possible
      and
      > then cover the area in a blanket of straw deep enough to prevent sunlight
      > from getting to the grass (6 inches to a foot).

      Has anybody tried this method on other "weeds", specifically, broadleaf dock
      and dandelions? They have very strong and very deep roots, I have a feeling
      that they would just send young leaves through as deep a layer (ground or
      mulch, I guess they are not so interested in the difference...) as it takes
      for them to emerge. I don't like the idea of destroying them, I have quite
      an admiration for their vitality and "deep mining" of resources, but just
      for that they do not leave much space for poor domesticated veggies... Wild
      perennials with deep root can resist weeks under a metre and more of snow
      (they did so last year), so probably a nice, warm straw blanket would just
      make them feel snug and happy :-)

      And there's no question of getting mature dandelions and docks out in a
      gentle way, it takes digging rather deep :-((

      Talking about those two, they have taken on fungal disease (late blight
      above all) which has pestered our whole area, owing to an exceedingly wet
      summer: what about phytophthora spores surviving the winter in the soil? I
      am not sure about that, I know some fungal diseases have spores which can
      survive for years. So, no using the leaves of wild perennials for mulch or
      compost (sic! they are soooo productive... all wasted bionass!), but even if
      I burn them after cutting, what about possible spores in the soil?

      Thanks for any relevant advice.

      paola

      (* Italian lurker living in Bosnia)
    • lh@larryhaftl.com
      ... Yes, it works on suppressing dock and dandelions. The key is the observing and lifting of the straw blanket to recover, and therefore suppress, the dock
      Message 2 of 2 , Nov 11, 2005
        >> One thing that works quite well is to cut the grass as short as possible
        > and
        >> then cover the area in a blanket of straw deep enough to prevent sunlight
        >> from getting to the grass (6 inches to a foot).
        >
        > Has anybody tried this method on other "weeds", specifically, broadleaf
        > dock
        > and dandelions? They have very strong and very deep roots, I have a
        > feeling
        > that they would just send young leaves through as deep a layer (ground or
        > mulch, I guess they are not so interested in the difference...) as it
        > takes
        > for them to emerge.

        Yes, it works on suppressing dock and dandelions. The key is the observing
        and lifting of the straw blanket to recover, and therefore suppress, the
        dock and dandelions. Plants can only store so much energy and if you cut off
        their access to sunlight long enough they are drained of that energy and
        die.

        > I don't like the idea of destroying them, I have quite
        > an admiration for their vitality and "deep mining" of resources,

        Then you can just let them grow when they first pop their heads through the
        straw blanket. Also, windblown seeds (especially from dandelions) can land
        on and take root in the straw blanket as it is a nutrient-rich growing
        medium on the surface and where the earth is exposed, so hand-weeding might
        be needed depending on what is going on in the area (sources of wind-blown
        seeds).

        > Talking about those two, they have taken on fungal disease (late blight
        > above all) which has pestered our whole area, owing to an exceedingly wet
        > summer: what about phytophthora spores surviving the winter in the soil? I
        > am not sure about that, I know some fungal diseases have spores which can
        > survive for years. So, no using the leaves of wild perennials for mulch or
        > compost (sic! they are soooo productive... all wasted bionass!), but even
        > if
        > I burn them after cutting, what about possible spores in the soil?

        This I don't have experience with. Fukuoka's method implies/states that if
        you create a really healthy ecosystem then such diseases will either not
        occur, not be a problem, or attract a natural enemy to suppress it before it
        seriously harms the ecosystem. I don't know if that is always the case.

        Larry Haftl
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