HerbsHorses&Healing
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smartweeds in all my gardens and compost ...HATE EM! Why?

This is my second year gardening over old manure/compost heaps. My soil is rich, black crumbly. It is mostly just manure(horse), sawdust and hay mixed in with plant debris, weeds etc. Underneath is beautiful compost. BUT no matter where I get the compost from, (Which pile) consistantly over the years, I always get what I call"the dreaded weed" smartweed". Its like a cancer to me. Everytime I use some compost I have tons and tons of them. Does anyone know why? Or what does it mean to have an excess of these in all of my gardens and compost? and what can I do to eradicate them other than hand pull each one, (by the thousands, Ugh!) P.S. This was a wild overgrown grassy/ manure dump area for 20-30 years. I have worked hard for 3 years to eradicate a tenacious vine, cant think of the name now, but it covered every square inch of abput 2 acres! Any ideas would be appreciated.
PS Are we officially in a drought in Western, Massachusetts. I an having a didfficult year becasue of the lack of water. Thanks! LP
Live for nature, fresh air, peace & quiet, and horses. Learn something new everyday. The more I learn, the more I quest for knowledge! Be positive, pleasant, friendly. Do something nice for someone everyday. Make this world a better place to be!

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applestar
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FWIW -- according to [url=https://books.google.com/books?id=rF3-RzZ0psoC&lpg=PA346&ots=uUbEYb3tvn&dq=smartweed%20dynamic%20accumulator&pg=PA242#v=onepage&q=smartweed%20dynamic%20accumulator&f=false]a table on p. 242[/url] of Designing and Maintaining Your Edible Landscape Naturally
by Robert Kourik, smartweed can be used as companion plants (i.e. you don't need to eradicate them completely from your vegetable garden)

It sounds like you have more than the usual level of "weed" as in vegetation growing in unintended/unwanted location :shock: but I've heard that they are also edible for humans as well as for livestock, which also means they make excellent mulch/green manure and compost greens when cut before they go to seed AND if you let them flower, bees (as well as other nectaring insects and beneficial insects) LOVE their nectar. Useful stuff if you make use of them. :wink:

cynthia_h
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Maybe this is an East Coast plant? Is there a scientific name I can look up for "smartweed"?

thx

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applestar
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There are different species, but, unless I'm mistaken, it's Polygonum. Most of them like wet locations, and grow HUGE in soggy areas. The ones I have in my garden will grow even in dried up clay hardpan -- they stay tiny, but they refuse to die. :x Bees and pollinators love the flowers and birds (finches and cardinals) love the seeds, though, so I don't have the heart to pull them all out.... :roll:

rot
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cover your beds

..
Cover your garden with several sheets of newspaper. Wet the newspaper down and cover with dirt or mulch. If the cover over the newspaper is thin when you want to plant, thoroughly soak the ground with water and with a sharp stick, poke a hole and drop your seed.

The newspaper will block the weeds but will breakdown and disappear by next season.

to sense
..

The Helpful Gardener
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This is the one with the red dot in the middle of the leaf, sometimes called lady's thumbprint?

[img]https://www.umassvegetable.org/images/soils_crops_pest_mgt/weed/smartweed_pennsylvania.jpg[/img]

It's edible in it's own right, y'know? AS is right about the compatibility thing...

I know it is hard to wrap the head around it. Wife is still casting jaundiced looks at the mayhem around the asparagus, but less so since she tried the cooked lambsquarters and likes it as much as the spinach. The smartweed I am not as fond of, but have a small patch I have used as a cooked green; s'allright...

If you can't beat 'em, eat 'em...

HG
Scott Reil

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Thank You to all replies from the question writer.

Thank You all for your helpful replies! Yes the smartweeds are a polygonum species. I also learned it is also from the buckwheat family which is why it probably lives in the farm ( horse manure/hay) compost since it is probably? in most hay fields. Both readers are correct, it flourishes in flooded areas as well as hardpan. But thank to you all, I realize that it does support a lot of wildlife. I have robins, and more common birds, chipmunks, rabbits, groundhogs enjoying it as well as my garden vegetables, so maybe I should leave some to disguise my veggies!
Thank You all for your kind replies. I've been kind of struggling this year, I had hoped to be able to purchase the land I rent, ( too many hundred Ks $$ too much) so I had I planted five big gardens by hand hoping to have a farm stand. And I'm spending about six hours /day ,at least between my sick ( foundered horses) and my attempts at growing lots of healthy organic herbs and vegetables. So THANK YOU all! I guess I need to realize that there are lots of wonderful people out there and I'm not the only one loving the earth , digging in the dirt...every day! :D :D Happy Growing! LP

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Unlike cows, horses tend to pass the seed they eat in pretty good shape, planting it with fertilizers. So your animals are working against you... :roll:

If knocking it down fast is the need here, I like my [url=https://www.pet-dog-cat-supply-store.com/shop/shop_image/product/697d1e28b2fbd6ab5c2279a2d6fabe3e.jpg]action hoe[/url]; leaves the roots in the soil to add carbon as well...

HG
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applestar
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Look at lakngulf's 2nd photo in this post -- a large clump of smartweed/polygonum on the growing with the squash and tomatoes! :D
https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=148172#148172

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lakngulf
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Applestar, where exactly is it in the photo. I can assure you that if it looks like a weed, acts like a weed, quacks like a weed, then I would have pulled it out if I had gotten to it.

I am about weeds the same way my grandfather was about snakes. There are three kinds of BAD snakes: Live snake, Dead snakes, and Sticks that look like snakes.
Last edited by lakngulf on Tue Jul 06, 2010 3:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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I've been toying with the idea of letting weeds lie on top of the garden as a mulch after I pull them, but I can't shake the feeling that they will re-root and come back to life :shock:.
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Happens occasionally, but mostly it is just new hay...

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The Helpful Gardener wrote:Happens occasionally, but mostly it is just new hay...

HG
...so you're saying it's good to just let the weeds lie rather than just remove them?
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As long as the seed has not matured you are returning soil nutrition (plus) back to the soil it came from...

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Is it better to leave them on top, or to turn them under? I'm thinking that leaving them on top would probably reduce the risk of more weeds coming up.
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microcollie
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I'm also in Western MA and am just recovering from an abundance of smartweed. 1st, if you pull it after it has flowered, pile it somewhere well out of the way. It sets seed quickly and what may just look like flowers may contain viable seed. 2nd, watch where your hay comes from. If they have it, you're going to as well. Finally, because horses and cows digestive systems often allow seeds to pass through undigested, make sure that your manure has aged enough that most viable seeds will have run their course before spreading it on your gardens. Remember that smartweed is a perennial, so if you can be diligent about pulling, that will be that much less that you'll have to contend with the following year. Luckily, its root system is small and it's easily pulled. Good luck. With a little persevereance, you can get rid of it.

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Turn 'em under? Tilling? Like planting them?

Have you forgotten who you are asking, G5? :lol:

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The Helpful Gardener wrote:Turn 'em under? Tilling? Like planting them?

Have you forgotten who you are asking, G5? :lol:
HG
Ha, yeah, what was I thinking :roll:. I'd don't really till, like with one of those Mantis tillers, just take a narrow hoe and break up the ground. I suppose I'll make sure that the weeds stay on top.

That's my main issue with going no till.......I have to walk in my garden to weed and harvest. As you know, that creates hard paths that pool up with water when it rains. By going over them once a week and breaking them up, I'm able to keep them weeded and loose at the same time.

I'm thinking now that I should have made two long skinny gardens with a walkway in-between rather than just one wide one.
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applestar
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After seeing the discussions about smartweed here in this thread and a couple of others, I left good sized patches of smartweed growing in a couple of locations. Right now, they're in full-bloom and honeybees are ALL OVER them. :()

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farmerlon
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lakngulf wrote:I am about weeds the same way my grandfather was about snakes. There are three kinds of BAD snakes: Live snake, Dead snakes, and Sticks that look like snakes.
I've got to respectfully disagree with that... snakes are beneficial.
I am not keen on having any poisonous ones around, but a good old blacksnake can do some good.
I've heard of farmers that, if they found a blacksnake in their fields, they would take it to their barns... just so the snakes would be around to take care of mice and rats.

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Leave your small weeds on top ,let your worms do the digging for you ,as soon as there is some surface water the worms will pull down dead and dying organics ,that improves the soil texture !
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Another candidate for Bokashi!


Or as they call it here, silage. Or, pickled weeds!


Get the tops of those (leave the roots in the soil) weeds in a sealed plastic bag or in a big pile under a tarp. Get some weight on there. Mix that up with straw, hay, or as its own layer, or just throw it around.

Your animals will probably go crazy for the silage as well.
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