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Losing battle to the thistles...

Posted by Organic_johnny z6b SEPA (My Page) on
Sun, Jul 18, 04 at 9:35

I've spent the last 9 months or so clearing, tilling, and prepping several acres of long-unused farmland in the hopes of turning it into an organic farm and nursery. Mostly, it's gone pretty well (though many hard lessons learned on the way), but I have a few large (1/2 acre+) patches that are completely dominated by Canada Thistle.

So, I'm thinking now that there just isn't much option but to hit them with some chemicals. Most of these fields are slated for perennial crops and nursing, and I just can't plant them without killing the thistle first (especially in the nursing fields...I can't sell plants that have thistle in their roots).

I'm hoping some of the knowledgeable organic folks will be able to give me some advice on this. First, I'm planning on certifying as much land as posible as organic, as soon as possible (I'm guessing not for 3 years anyway, as I have no records or treatments before I moved in). So, I'm guessing that If I'm going to hit the thistles with something, it's best to do it now and get it over with.

The question is really just this: what to use? I really don't have a lot of experience using such chems, and I'm not sure wether I should try starting with roundup, or just go ahead and use the nastiest, most lethal chemical I can find? (The nature conservancy's ESA goes into a fair amount of detail on both of these approaches.) I'd kind of like it to be a quick kill, so that I can get a cover/forage crop in by fall, and begin turning my fields into an organic farm.

BTW, I'm posting here rather than in another forum because I'm guessing you guys will be more understanding of the urgency of returning the fields to organic treatment ASAP. Didn't want to post it in discussions because it's not really an OG question (or is it?). Advice and/or moral support would be most appreciated!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

Sorry to hear ...I know that even goats couldnt be control to select thistle over other...thistle is the least fav for mine. I have been hand pulling it. I really think that you should hire some old fashion farm workers and just supply room and board for the season and hand pull out all the thistle, including roots. I do think that would be the best all around eco smart thing to do. The problem would be the money to sustain such help and more importantly space ( do you have space to accomidate farm hands? And then theres personalities, do they work well and remove all roots or mere hurt more than help? So, you would have to have personsalities that were compatible to get the job done correctly. Somehow the help would need to know yours nneds and anticipate your needs in order to get the job done correctly.

If you pull thistle from the base you can ususally find a place that will allow you to grab it and pull it out roots and all...and sometimes the climate is such that the roots do not give and they must be surgicaly removed!

I dont want to hear about chems...however, I know if you must you will find a way to achieve this in the most cautious manner . Good luck and hopefully a crew of migrants lands on yuor doorstep with more experience than you'll ever live to have and offer to work


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

Actually, I think you're supposed to keep thistle out of goat fields (bad for their mouths)...I've been hunting down nightshades, etc. for their sake in the meantime, but don't think chems are necessary for them.

Money (and time, which is another kind of money) is definitely the issue. I've controlled thistle successfully in several of the gardens I work in through tilling, burning, shceduled pulling, covering, etc., but nothing even approaching this scale, and my clients tend to have more money than I do.

I've considered the options, but none seem to fit. Neighborhood kids refuse to pull thistle (or tearthumb, or multiflora, or poison ivy)...so that's not an option. One field has just a small (200 sq ft) patch, which I will try solarizing. I tried to convince my wife to have wwoofers ("willing workers on organic farms"...long story), but the building we would house them in isn't ready yet, and she doesn't want strangers living in the house. Besides, I don't think too many wwoofers would be thrilled about spending their 30 hrs/week doing nothing but pulling canada thistle.

The other thing I worry about with pulling/solarizing/etc. is that it's going to be too long a battle, and I need these fields to go into production ASAP. My current lease/buy arrangement is for 5 years, and I worry that the terms after that will be tougher to handle, so having crops in and out to at least the break-even point will be absolutely necessary by that time.

I guess the only bright spot about the chems is that a morning's research has shown that roundup is probably going to be sufficient...in fact most effective in the August rosette stage, which will happen in a few weeks. Only thing that worries me is that some of the gardens I've removed it from were previously sprayed with RU, and it didn't work for them.

One more question though...perhaps directed to marshallz: I'd really like to get through this (or at least this year's part) early enough to be able to cover with winter rye. How close to frost can it be sucessfully planted? And how soon after RU?


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

Not even goats? Now I'm sad. (I have an irrational hankering to keep goats.)

You know what, though, Organic Johnny? Organic Johnny, you know what? Though it is the Organic Gardening forum I'm saying it on, which I probably shouldn't, I will say that I think that there are a depressingly long list of far worse things in the world than Roundup.


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

Oh no...goats will come soon enough, but I just won't expect them to take care of the thistle for me :).

Yup, much worse things...just worry that it'll be addictive or something...


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

Organic Johnny,

I think what you are doing is admirable. I am sorry about the Canadian Thistle problem. Luckily for us in this part of the country, we don't get enough water for them to do well. We have our share of other pests though.

Regarding the thistle issue, is there any way to get the 20% over even 30% vinegar applied to the thistle? I do not know how the vinegar will affect organic gardening standards or even affect the thistle, but it has to be better than round-up or other poisons. Bleach or ammonia may be other solutions also. They break down relatively quickly.

I dug up an article regarding using a fall rye crop to suppress Canadian thistles. This was an article from the Canadian Organic Agricultural Center. I hope that article helps you.

I see that you are SE Pa. I actually went to high school in Pottstown, so I am somewhat familiar with the weather cycles there. Depending on where you are, the first frost can be anywhere from mid-October to early November. You may be to plant the rye though mid-to late September in your area. Someone else may be better able help you with that. (BTW, what do the Amish in Lancaster County do?)

Good Luck

Here is a link that might be useful: Using Allelpathic and Cover Crops to Suppress Weeds


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

If you're looking for someone to support a decision to fall back on Roundup, I can't help you. It defies the idea of creating an organic nursery. Btw, the Big M is a major corporate sponsor of TNC. We all know money talks, and what it says is fairly predictable.

I think you should consider hiring people to remove the thisle either by hand, flame it or try high acetic acid vinegar. Consider it a business expense that will pay off in the long run.

Good article AzDesertRat.


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

Hey DesertRat! That's too funny...we live in Bechtelsville, just up the road from Pottstown :).

We will be using rotations of cereal rye and buckwheat as allelopathic covers, but can't do that where the perennial and nursery crops will want to be...my level of economic tolerance in those fields will be very low when it comes to thistle (actually, just about zero).

I'm pretty sure vinegars are permitted, but they only defoliate, and it's the roots I need to kill. The following is from the ESA (link below):

"Vertical roots can grow as deep as 6.8 m (Rogers 1928) but most roots are in the upper 60 cm of soil (Haderlie et al. 1987). Cirsium arvense roots commonly reach a depth of 1.5 m in one-year old plants, and 2 m in 2-10 year old plants (Nadeau 1988)." Scary!

BTW, the Amish farmers are notorious for heavy chemical and GMO use...though a few have been converting to organic.

Althea: what's TNC?

I have been trying straight OG methods to control the stuff (and will continue to do so in the smaller patches and after the big hit), but just not economically feasable. My concern is how to minimize the damage and get back to OG methods as quickly and smoothly as possible.

Sort of an update: discovered yesterday that at least one patch is hosting aphids, which in turn are hosting lady beetles. I'll plan to whack the patches with a stick before hitting it, but will I end up losing the larvae?

Here is a link that might be useful: Canada Thistle ESA


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

The Nature Consevancy.

This sounds like a good time for you re-evaluate your goals. Primarily, why do you want an organic nursery as opposed to one that uses ipm, for example. The undertones of your posts suggest you have no real committment to organic practices, would like to use organic methods but would prefer flexibility.

Many people go heavily into debt when starting a business, realizing the expenditures may not pay off for a couple of years.


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

Hmmm, well, it's not the goals that I'm re-evaluating: I want this to be an organic farm/nursery. Just not reasonable to try to do that with this particular problem on the ground.

My level of committment is pretty darn high...I spend a lot of time convincing clients not to do what I'm about to do here, but I'm feeling backed up to the wall with the sheer scale of this problem (literally acres and acres of the stuff). Had we bought a farm that hadn't been neglected for 80+ years, the previous farmer would have taken care of this problem before it got so bad, in which case using organic methods to spot treat would be doable. But experience has told me that organic control of CT takes a minimum of 2 years (even for just a small patch), and a LOT of time and money.

I'm actually fairly paranoid about the stuff in any case...I'll be buying some ugly clothes from goodwill to use for this purpose, then throwing them out :).


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

Don't forget to throw out your GW moniker too.


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

Maybe "not-so-organic-johnny"? Perhaps I should take on another moniker (love that word) for a few weeks while I'm trashing my own principles.

Seriously though, I hate the very idea of doing this...but the alternatives are untenable. My records will reflect the following black mark:

>>Field: Center High Field

General Description:

Between North High Field, 100 Hill, South High Field, Upper Field Road.

2 large boxelders currently remaining.

Soil Description:

Rocky, high hardpan, tree roots along surface.

History:

At one time used for pasture, much barbed wire and remnants of electric fencing, etc.

Fall 2003:

Removal of heavy infestation of multiflora rose...rings indicate at least 19 years since previous mowing and/or establishment of the roses.

Winter/Spring 2004:

Trees cleared (all but 2), stumps ground.

Summer 2004:

Tilled, 3x.

July 19: spot treated with roundup for Canada Thistle.

Perennial Weeds:

Japanese Honeysuckle

Crown Vetch

Canada thistle.

About 90% cover in July, 2004

Japanese Stiltgrass

Yarrow

Annual Weeds:

Nightshade

Common Ragweed

Garlic Mustard

Yellow Rocket

Current Use/Crop:

(Under quarantine for thistle)

(Under equipment quarantine for roundup)
>>


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

Johnny, I used to have a co-worker whom I couldn't stand, who used to trot out the saying "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good" every time we tried to drive a stake through the heart of something that was not only bad, but egregiously unaccepable.

(This is probably what Althea thinks I'm doing.)

Nonetheless, my opinion in this matter is, "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." The world will be a better place, in my opinion, if you use Round-up carefully and once, vow never to do it again (and stick to your vow), and start a thriving organic nursery, than if your plans for an organic nursery founder due to the impossibility of getting rid of the thistle in a way and on a schedule you can afford. (I am assuming, here, that it is impossible. Maybe it's not. But you say it is, and you certainly know a lot more about it than I do.)

Also, Organic-Except-For-Once-I-Used-Roundup-And-I-Feel-Rotten-About-It-But-Saw-No-Feasible-Organic-Alternative_ Johnny is way too long.


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

>>Nonetheless, my opinion in this matter is, "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." The world will be a better place, in my opinion, if you use Round-up carefully and once, vow never to do it again (and stick to your vow<<

Well, "once" in this case means "using targeted treatments for a single season on a targeted field, diligently recording said treatments, and converting to transitional/organic methods once the problem is under control, keeping in mind that this field will be in purgatory for 3 years after the last treatment".

BTW, read my previous post (esp. soil description of that field...) and chuckled to myself...the 3 year black mark won't really make too much difference anyway, as it will take me about that long to get the soil in decent shape anyway :(. The other infested fields are more promising, but I want to till them first so I can see exactly where I need to treat (they're 4 ft high in aster and goldenrod at the moment).

BTW2 (relating to another thread): I think this is a good example of how the national organic standards are working...more than a few sleepless nights agonizing about setting that 3 year clock back to zero for that particular field! If nothing else, the standards are enough to make one think twice about whether there is an alternative.

"Journal Entry": Used roundup today...first time in 14 years. Surprised by how expensive the stuff is...hard to imagine how bad a field would have to be to use a gmo "roundup ready" crop, spray once or twice, and have it come to less than the cost of organic methods. Also have a headache and a very uncomfortable flare-up of arthritis, but this may be stress related.


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

Well, let me ask you this....how do you clear and till? Are you tilling, as in roto-tilling? Plowing? Can you mechnically remove them/control them enough now so you can plant, and then have the plantings shadow or out compete them? I don't know here, just throwing some stuff out here.


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

I clear using chainsaws and a tractor...the thistle turned up as the unexpected herbaceous layer after the woody material was removed (primarily multiflora rose and wineberry).

By tilling I do mean roto-tilling...my tiller goes down about 6.5". Surprisingly effective against poison ivy, honeysuckle, shrubs (pops the crowns right out of the ground), and milkweed, but less so against the thistle and joe pye weed. In theory, I could just till the fields every 2 weeks for a year or so and tire the stuff out, but this would probably result in a pure gravel "soil" and turn my ponds into silt beds (not to mention oxidizing what little organic matter has managed to build up there over the years).

On a garden scale, I have had pretty good results with tilling in September, tilling again 2 weeks later and spreading 4" leaf mold, tilling again 2 weeks after that (incorporating the leaf mold), then mulching with another 4" leaf mold and having biweekly treatments with weeding/flaming every 2 weeks for the following 3 months or so. THEN till one more time and plant annual plant materials only, and have a hand weeding scheduled for every other week for 18 months (or until no more thistle is found during 3 successive weeding visits), THEN wait 4 weeks to see if any more thistle comes up, and if it doesn't, we consider the problem solved, and start planting herbaceous plants and woodies.

Just seems like too much for this situation, with 3 or 4 solid acres of thistle to deal with.


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

Okay, it's just a thought. I stopped using checmicals in my garden about two years ago and have been mechanical tilling, which really has worked well for me. I know, not 100% organic, but still better. Next year I was going to start a compost pile once I get all the chemicals off the lawn. Just a thought. Hope it works out for you.


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

Oh man, don't go about waiting to start a compost pile out of fear of chem residues...check out the compost forum: even the self-styled compost wackos (CWs) don't worry about a bit of residue on those non-organic veggies they salvage from the dumpster!

That 3 year thing has only to do with certifiying produce for sale to the public. Has absolutely nothing to do with how you grow in your own garden.

Honestly, Jason, sounds like you have real questions to ask...and of all threads to hijack, this is definitely not a good one (not that I mind, but me suspects that the political name calling has probably only just begun). May I suggest that you do some posting on the "on-topic" page? There have been a few threads about trying to run a garden to a certified farm's specs, and if I remember correctly they were fairly polite and informative.


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oh, one more thing:

I don't think theres anything "unorganic" about tilling...it's just that there's a price to pay if you do it too often.


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

I did some more research about Canadian Thistle, and it is a bear of a problem. Sort of reminds me of bermuda grass down here. Will survive anything but a direct nuclear blast. Would join the cockroaches as survivers after WW III.

A couple of things though. Since you have been using Roundup (I was under the impression you hadn't), keep localizing as much as you can their use. Inject the plants if you can to localize it as much as you can.

Solarizing was another option that I was going to suggest, but you have already brought it up. If you were to till the areas of Canadian Thistle, and then plant the cover crops immediately, especially in those heavily infested areas, would that at least slow down the growth of Canadian thistle ? You may not be able to use that area for crops, but at the least the cover crops could be incorporated into the soil in the meantime. You could spottreat any reminances of the thistle with vinegar or bleach and it may eventually die, or least be controlled.

BTW, I am surprised to hear that the Amish were not more 'organic' in their approach to farming. Call me naive, but with all their other traditions, I assumed that they would treat the land in the same way they live their lives.

I will admit, I am not an entirely organic gardner either. However, I am getting there. I have lived in this house for 3 years now, and each year I have decreased the amount of chemical pesticides and fertilizers each year that I have been here. I hope to be chemical free by next year. I am not saying I will be organic, but chemical free is one step closer. It is a challenge given where I live and what I chose to plant here.

On the other hand, import a few Mexican laborers from down south and have them do the work. That may a cheaper/easier solution.----Just kidding

Good Luck


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

Wow...there's an apocalypse for ya: imagine if only the hare krishnas went to heaven, with the rest of us doomed to wander an earth full of cockroaches and canada thistle. Eeeyee-yee-yee.

Just started with the evil stuff today...maybe my new moniker should be Faust? Actually, that's kinda cool...maybe I'll change my screenname to Faust...or maybe Robert Johnson II?

I was really bummed to learn about Amish chemical use too, but who am I to judge? I didn't really believe it until I saw my first mule-drawn boom sprayer.


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

Jason!!!!!!!!!!! All this time you've been hanging out with us CCWs and YOU'RE NOT COMPOSTING?!?!?!?! I am shocked and appalled!!!!!! Truly!!!! Not composting!!!!! HOW COULD YOU???????

Shaken in every putrescible fiber of her being,
Alfie


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

( passed out that Jasson doesnt compost)
overwhelmed that canadian thistle is such a monster, and its medicinal values is not in much demand, either.

Its such a large area... be sure that you are dressed properly and protected from the evils of glyphosphates- we are all with you spiritually- thank goodness we dont have to be there to watch and breath it! lol sorry couldnt help my self. I understand this is difficult for you and you may someday be on a talk show radio or tv to defend why you used this treatment when you become a famous organic grower.

cheers and forgive yourself, at least you dont spray from a helicopter and spray preventatively and often! You are taking the most responsible actions in your methods...I applaud you for caring so much.


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

Oops. It appears that I've made an even larger blunder than my nuke comment on another forum. Er....I was planning on getting around to it......really....


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RE: Losing battle to cyber-gardeners

So, Jason, it turns to be undeniable that you have been and continue to support cyber-gardening. Well, I sure there is room in this world for all kinds of wanna-be's. ;)


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

Thistles are another kind of creature defying reasonable control measures. Eventually, natural/biologic controls will take out the extreme dominance. Moreover, better soil management will be found to minimize edaphic conditions favoring invasiveness. In the meantime, go the mechanical route since you seem to have already messed with the stands of thistles. You will have not only to exhaust existing root systems but also to exhaust accumulated seed deposits.

Around here yellow (star) thistles has come to dominate. I haven't had any stands at my farm or orchard, unlike my "conventional" neighbors who are forever spraying Roundup.

Long before I opened up the grounds currently in vegetables and in fruit trees, I did spot treat bindweed, bermuda, and nutgrass with Roundup. Most of the ground sat fallow after treatment for 4 to 8 years before being planted for organic production. One parcel still sits as a seasonal meadow because we haven't been able to remove all the bermuda grass. If we disc and harrow that parcel, we might as well plan on a new bermuda lawn over the area. Bermuda keep reappearing in the vegetable fields where we dig the grass out before it has a chance to throw stolons and new centers of growth.


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

Well Marshall, it's been a long row to hoe, so to speak, but you weirdos must be rubbing off on me. Three years ago, I had enough chemicals in my garage to make the selection at your local big box shameful. Now, I'm down to just what's left, and a couple things I use commercially (that is, at commercial buildings I own). Yep. I mechanically till. I admit it. And yes, I admit that I do NOT have a compost pile.....uh.....I haven't finalized the construction plans yet. Yeah. That's it. Soon though.....as soon as it gets through the planning committee....I mean, I have to take a lot of time on this; I don't want to go completely native, er, I mean, organic all at once, but I'm trying; the corner posts for it (and the sides), CAN'T be PT or plastic lumber, cuz that's bad....and it has to be in a special location.......

I will relate this, however; as you know, I'm a pumpkin dude. I grow pumpkins. Not well, not all survive, but I do well enough. And I'm sure from my posts you know that my neighbor is a former timber lobbyist, and about the most competitive person I've ever met; so of course, he tries to make his garden better than ours....and fails miserably. Roundup just doesn't seem to work. He had one pumpkin last year. I had enough for the Halloween party, and enough to give 40 needy children a pumpkin (since they want like $5 each at the store). And of course, all my pumpkin seeds ended up being chemical free.....


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

Marshall: so are you doing no-till now? How do you kill the cover crops? Just curious...I recently read about planting winter wheat in the spring between rows, then allowing it to conveniently die in the heat and thus create a mulch. I guess my impression has been that cover/smother crops need to be tilled in before they go to seed and become another weed to deal with.

CT, at least around here, is rarely a seed problem...generally moves vegetatively on equipment, contaminated stock, etc., so the biggest issue with it has been proper sanitation on the tiller, tires, etc. Getting a decent soil established does seem to help. I'm sure I'll be spot treating too for quite a few years, but pulling will be the prime tool for that. I'll probably start using those fields in the spring for annual crops...perennial crops will wait until a field has had at least 3 years without re-emergence of the thistle and/or stiltgrass (fortunately, stiltgrass doesn't stand up to the tilling).


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

(Begin hijack of thread)

Jason, all you gotta do to compost is start composting. IALBTC regardless of whether the bin is made of CCA wood or Trex or plastic or 55-gallon drums of who-knows-what hazardous waste. Or even if you don't have a bin at all! (Mind you, my personal experience is limited to no bins and plastic Rubbermaid worm bins. But Professor Dirt says IALBTC, and it certainly seems reasonable to me.)

And furthermore, all you have to do to go organic is stop using chemical *cides and fertilizers. You don't have to aspire to homesteading and grow (and can) 17 varieties of heirloom tomatoes. You don't have to (at least in my opinion) stop using mouse poison in the attic. You don't have to write poems about your spiritual connection with Mother Earth. You don't have to swear off Twinkies and wear sandals with socks and put soymilk in your Fair Trade coffee and vote for the other presidential candidate whose campaign is currently being supported by Republicans. You don't even have to stop tilling! Just stop using those chemical *cides and fertilizers.

So, when are you going to get started :-)?

(end hijack)


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Oops, another hijack

Hey, Marshall, we finally celebrated The Festival of the First Harvest of Rosa Bianca Eggplants (two of 'em, each about the size of my fist, pink and white and lovely, brushed with olive oil and baked at 450 in the toaster oven until they were nice and mushy) and ... they were bitter! I was the only one who would eat them, and even that was only out of principle. Now what?


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

Do a penance appropriate for your religious persuasion and vow not to grow THREE eggplants in the SAME small pot again.

Bitterness in solanaceae, just as in lettuces, comes with bouts of stress during the growing period and at the end of the cycle. Did the Rosa Biancas still have a high gloss? Some folks wait too long, hoping for more sizing. As seeds develop, so does the bitterness.

Covering slices of eggplant with table salt will draw out liquid (including some of the bitter elements.) Some bathe their slices in milk too. Overcooking ain't such a hot idea either.

I like to cook eggplant on a charcoal grill, searing the cut surfaces and setting off to the side to cook a bit more slowly, well based with olive oil prepped ahead of time with thyme


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

Hmmm, back to a bit of topical stuff:

the *&%(&%^ thistle is finally wilting out...now I'm wondering if it's safe to load on chips now...some of these spots need some SERIOUS organic matter in any case. Was thinking of trying a cover of about 8" or so...but worried that I might have to repeat the treatment. Will that hurt the organisms breaking down the wood chips?

I think Alfie at least is familiar with my sudden abundance of chips from the power company (getting in 1-4 truckloads daily, and the drivers are more than happy to just keep coming by). I'm thinking that this might be less frustrating (not to mention cheaper) than if I were to plant a cover crop and have to repeat the spray.

-johnny, who has stolen Alfie's habit of tag-lining my posts. I think I'll trademark it and sue her later :).


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

I always recommend mulching to depth of up to a foot any problematic ground to be planted to perennials in the future. The microbiology of "woody" sheet composting mimics that found under forested lands, heavy on the fungi and saphorites (spelling?). Spot weeding or spraying scattered weeds succeeding in growing through the mulch are much simpler than trying weed control through desired vegetation.

Is that on-topic enough?


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

"Faust" seems somewhat appropriate, a little exagerrated, but as long as you don't use Organic_faust, why not? I'm doubt if anyone else on g'web is using Faust as a member name. You can always just go with Conventional_johnny or Transitional_johnny.


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

actually, organic_faust has a nice ring to it!

-Herr K.


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

But does it ring true? Truth, of course, is purely subjective.

-Frau A


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

How about Pseudo_Organic_Johnny

But seriously, how many truckloads of wood chips would you need to cover all of that acerage with 8" to a foot of wood chips? Next question, are you going to till that in the spring or let it decompose in place? My thoughts are that a foot of wood chips may take a year or more to decompose in place. Sort of hard to plant something that way.


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

Ah, but is the truth in the saying or in the listening?

Quite a few truckloads...the worst patch so far is about 14,000 sq ft. Would probably leave it on for about 3-4 months after the last appearance of the thistle, then till it.

Actually though, sheet-composting of wood chips can be sped up considerably by an occaisional tilling (of the chips, not the soil beneath...precision tilling?).


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

You know, a tractor with a 4' tiller might do wonders for you, buddy.....there's something to be said for mechanical tilling (but just in this instance, of course).


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

LOL...already got a 5 ft tiller. What I'm hankering for for next year is a 5' flamer to create those stale seedbeds I've been reading so much about.

How come you guys dislike tillers so much anyway? Can't imagine trying to break fields of this size without one (or alternatively using a LOT of herbicides).


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

I don't think most of dislike tilling, it is just that most of us don't have tillers. On top of that, a lot of us are sold on the no-till method for improving the soil. It is easy and seems to replicate nature and doesn't destroy the soil structure. Leaves falling decompose work back into the soil, trees falling in the woods decomposing, animals dying, etc., etc., etc..

In some case a tiller is needed. But only for a one time step in improving the soil, removing stumps, etc. I concur with Jason that you should till the soil, just this one time of course.


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

You guys would probably be horrified by my tiller usage then...once on wet to break the sod, then again as soon as it's bone dry, to shred and dehydrate the perennials, then one more dry to smooth out...followed by hours of picking out the larger stones.

Following years I'll just be doing a 2" till when it's time to knock the cover crops or work in the old mulch...

It is pretty amazing how the thing pops stumps out of the ground! Bigger stumps just get sliced up, but shrubby stumps end up sitting on the ground roots up. Only thing that creates a problem is old, buried barbed wire, which "turns up" in unexpected places.


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

Me? I use a small rototiller (you know..Troybilt style), all the time. It has replaced Roundup in my garden. That's a good tradeoff, I think...but I plan to use it less as the soil gets better. I think when I'm referring to tilling, I'm referring to plowing, discing, etc....basically what caused the big dustbowls, if I'm not mistaken. Also, on places that size, I think (someone correct me if I'm wrong), "no till", as used by modern farmers, replaces mechanical tilling with more chemicals....is that not true?


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

You are correct regarding the no-till systems basically replaces mechanical tilling with chemicals. I was referring to the suburban gardeners with their 1/4 acre plots.

For me anyway, even in these desert soils, just laying down organic material for 3-6 months has a profound improvement on soil structure and fertility. I think the high temperatures (and humidity now) help break down the OM fairly quickly. In the summers here, I will "lose" 2-3" of mulch on the soil. I control weeds the old fashioned way, pull them out by hand. Mulching has reduced the number of weeds, but I can see where it may be an issue with larger plots.

BTW Jason where do you live in MI. I actually went to school at Ferris in Big Rapids. And yes, went to high school in PA, and lived in 5 other states, and 3 other countries also.

Here is a link that might be useful: Principles of Integrated Weed Management (Canada)


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

I'm pretty sure plowing and disking are less harmful to the soil than tilling (dust bowl was more about when tilling occurred, lack of wind breaks, not following the land's contours, etc.). Tilling pretty much destroys the soil structure, also introduces more oxygen than should be present, allowing the best parts of compost to oxidize more quickly than they should. OTOH, adding lots of compost creates a different soil structure and makes up for what was oxidized.

There is some cutting edge research being done on no-till organic techniques however. I'm going to try to incorporate some of it once I have a better handle on the weeds I have now.

Link is to a NEW FARM page...if you search the site for "no till" you'll get plenty more articles.

Here is a link that might be useful: no-till organic vegetable crops


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

If you're not busy Aug. 5, you can make a trip to attend this gathering. I received this notice in my e-mail box.

~~~~~
A Farm Field Day at Virginia Techs Kentland Research Farm

Thursday evening August 5 at 5:00 - 8:00 pm with a Potluck Supper

The New River Chapter of the Virginia Association for Biological Farming and the Horticulture Department of Virginia Tech invite you to see and learn about cover-crop based, sustainable, no-till vegetable production systems. In these systems, vigorous annual cover crops such as rye + hairy vetch, or millet + cowpeas, are grown to flowering, then mechanically killed by rolling or mowing. This leaves a mulch through which vegetables such as broccoli or tomato can be transplanted no-till, with minimal soil disturbance. The benefits include:

Higher soil organic matter, biological activity and quality;
Weed suppression by the mulch;
Nitrogen provided by leguminous cover crops;
Mulch provides habitat for beneficial insects;
Reduced inputs and production costs;
No herbicides, suitable for organic farms.

The production system is further enhanced by farmscape plantings, which are mixtures of certain flowering plants such as buckwheat, coriander and yarrow. These provide food and habitat for key beneficial insects that prey on or parasitize major insect pests of vegetables.

At the field day, we will display and discuss:

Six acres of research trials on organic transition land at Kentland Farm
Various cover crops suitable for on-farm, solar-powered soil building and no-till management,
No-till broccoli, summer squash, pumpkin and potato in cover crop residues,
A diversity of farmscape plantings and beneficial insects,
Equipment for no-till soil preparation and vegetable planting, from small and simple to larger scale.

Presenters include Horticulture Professor Emeritus Ron Morse, graduate student Brinkley Benson, insect bio-control specialist Richard McDonald, and research consultant Mark Schonbeck. The team has received several grants to conduct this research at Kentland Research Farm and several working farms. The USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program is supporting projects on organic no-till potato and broccoli production. The USDA Cooperative Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES) is funding research and demonstration of a diverse, three-year rotation of vegetable and cover crops. Finally, a grant from the Organic Farming Research Foundation of Palo Alto, CA has offered us a grant to evaluate a variety of non-winter-hardy cover crops to provide a winter-killed mulch for early spring vegetables. In these studies, no-till and conventionally tilled treatments are compared in terms of vegetable yield, pest and weed levels, changes in soil quality, and net economic returns.

Come join us to find out how cover crops and farmscape plantings can make organic no-till vegetable production a reality. Bring a potluck dish to share, and meet us at Kentland Farm at 5:00 pm Thursday August 5.

Directions: From Rte 460, take the Prices Fork exit and continue on the main road into Prices Fork. At McCoy Road, turn right, and continue for several miles. Turn left at Whitethorne Road (there will be a sign for Kentland Farm), then just before you reach a small bridge, turn right onto a gravel driveway passing through a gate onto the farm. (NOTE  if you reach the main entrance to Kentland Farm, with a paved road, speed bump and small office building, you have gone about 100 yards too far.)
Park in the area indicated. We will be gathering in a shady spot with tables and chairs, near the research plots. Come rain or shine, if it rains, we will continue in a sheltered space at Kentland.
~~~~~


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

Sounds nifty...wish it were a bit closer though :).


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

You know, Johnny, I've been slumming on other forums lately, including the Native Plants forum, and I wonder if you couldn't just change your log-on name to Native_Johnny. There seem to be plenty of people over there who would have no objection whatsoever to bathing the world in Round-up and Garlon if only it would get rid of the tamarisk, Japanese honeysuckle, Russian olive, and, presumably, Canada thistle. What do you think?


 o
RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

Slumming? I'd have to say that the OG forum has more the feel of a ghetto (or maybe an aryan nation camp) than most others I hang out on :).

Seriously though, I'm not much of a nativist when it comes to plants...had to laugh at a recent argument over there about growing invasive tomatoes and almond trees! I suppose we can forgive the american members of that forum: Monsanto is an American company after all, and I'm sure, given time, that roundup will prove to be good for songbirds.

I guess that obliquely hits the core of my current internal debate: I went and got myself a farm that needs SERIOUS work, and I want everything done yesterday. Owning and breaking a wild farm has given me a very different perspective on my priorities...my previous "home garden" was only 100X50 ft (all organic), and my "other gardens" are paid for by the folks who hire me. Now I've got 24 acres of invasive weeds, aster yellows, dodder, and crappy soil, and the shortcuts are becoming more appealing.

Anyway, I'm ranting...time to get back out there and till the next victim/field (I had only come to the computer to see the radar, then got distracted).


 o
Ranting continued :)

(Just an aside...the weather forecasts are driving my crazy again...was supposed to rain all weekend, but only spat a couple times. Back to irrigating :(.)

My earlier internal debate was more to do with native plants...just hated the thought of tilling them all under, and spent more time than I should have rescuing a bunch of them. OTOH, I've learned a lot about how they grow and bloom since I started...I take about 40 photos a day in the hopes of looking up more about them in the winter.

Yesterday I mowed down and tilled joe pye weed, ironweed, goldenrod, and milkweeds...all in bloom, kind of a bummer! At least the soil was good on that field (and thistle-free). This week's field will be even sadder: huge elderberries there now.

It's mostly been just an experience of agricultural irony in moving from A to B with a lot of it. Mowing and tilling native wildflower meadows and yummy blackberries, cutting down big trees (many of which are trees I like), all so I can grow food, native plants, and more trees. I guess I shouldn't blink so much about needing to use roundup to prep a field for organic growing.

Speaking of the roundup: I really don't like the stuff. The areas I treated look sickly and poisonous...I don't even like looking at them (kind of reminds me of Mordor?). I just hope it works as well as it's touted, so I don't have to do it again!


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

What about Ready_and_Round-up_Johnny, or vice versa.

My apologizes, I couldnt help myself.

Cheers-GGX2


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

RoundUp_Ready_Johnny?

Actually seriously considering a switch to "Sweetbottom_Farmer" (after my farm).


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

Seems a bit X-rated to me, unless you're referring to changing diapers :-).


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

My farm is a bottomland on a dolomite/granite base. Sweet soil, bottom of the hill.

OTOH, never hurts to give a farm's/nursery's name a bit of sex appeal :).

Speaking of bottomland...we really got a good flooding yesterday evening! Funny thing too, as I was planning to irrigate it. So much easier to let the creek come do it for me :).


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

Just thought I'd share this: turns out that my goats consider canada thistle to be a delicacy. If I only knew then...


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

Give them a real treat and go for the poison ivy/poison oak.

In Cal. goats are used to browse off poison oak, thistle and other rather noxious/obnoxious growth for fire fuel suppression and pasture rehab.


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

They've been eating a smidgeon of PI, but at the moment they're far more interested in the japanese honeysuckle (which is evergreen here). I plan to put them out with the PI in the spring when it leafs out. They have eaten a few big vines off the trees and where it was growing on the barn.

The thistle is also evergreen here...I'm wondering if they'll be as interested in it when there are more less spiny things about for browsing.


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

Johnny,
I stumbled across this old thread today and noted that you will receive a copy of what I am about to write. For many organic suggestions I reach for a book on my bookshelf titled "Agriculture of Massachutsetts, 1864" by C.L. Flint. This book contains the minutes of the 12th meeting of the MA. Board of Agriculture and is a treasure trove of farm ideas reported by farmers across the State. There is a long discussion of ridding fields of Canadian thistle. A Mr. Anderson spoke on the subject......

"When they (Canadian thistle) are in full bloom, I cut them off. If they are mowed about that time, the stalks, which are hollow become filled with water, and they do not grow again. I have found that in two or three mowings I got rid of them."

Several other farmers agreed with Mr. Anderson. Perhaps this is worth a try.


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

i saw this old thread a long time ago and never posted. but i do want to say that i am sad about the tilled in joe pye weed :^(

actually joe pye can be quite aggressive and readily reseeds itself in the right conditions.

organic johnny - have you tried any prescribed burning to control your untamed farm?


 o
RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

Nandina...cool book to be reading, where'd ya find that one?

The graze and mow method is pretty much where I'm aiming to go now...also interplanting with allelopaths such as sunflower and winter rye. I know from experience that it definitely doesn't tolerate regular mowing, as it never invades lawns.

The other place it's been a problem is on the roadsides (both are elevated above the farm), but we're planting bamboo there anyway, so the thistle won't stand a chance in there anyway.

joepyeweed: sorry for tilling your namesakes :). Burning wouldn't work well here, since my fields are mostly narrow bands between woodlots, roads, powerlines, outbuildings, wetlands, and creeks. We've got 24 acres, but only 14 at most are useful for conventional agriculture or nursery.


 o
RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

unfortunately the burning of powerline and buildings is highly frowned upon. however a controlled burn, done at the right time of year, through woodlands, wetlands and creeks actually has great ecological benefit to those types of areas... that type of burn should only be done by a professional though. and that type of burn usually takes a year of planning to set up the right breaks and stuff.


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

I missed this question when it ws first posed: "Ah, but is the truth in the saying or in the listening?"

Either or both.

I posted the earliest report of this study on another forum and I feel compelled to post this more detailed report somewhere else (but not on the other side for obvious reasons).

Just in time for spring.

*****

http://www.i-sis.org.uk/GTARW.phpISIS Press Release 07/03/05

Glyphosate Toxic & Roundup Worse

Dr. Mae-Wan Ho and Prof. Joe Cummins call for urgent regulatory review
of the most widely used herbicide in the light of new scientific evidence

New research findings are raising serious concerns over the safety of
the most commonly used herbicide, and should be sending shockwaves
through proponents of genetically modified (GM) crops made tolerant to
the herbicide, which now account for 75% of all GM crops in the world.

Worse yet, the most common formulation of the herbicide is even more
toxic than the herbicide by itself, and is made by the same biotech
giant that created the herbicide tolerant GM crops.

Broad-spectrum herbicide glyphosate (N-(phosphonomethyl)glycine),
commonly sold in the commercial formulation Roundup (Monsanto company,
St. Louis, Missouri USA) has been frequently used both on crops and
non-crops areas world wide since it was introduced in the 1970s. Roundup
is a combination of glyphosate with other chemicals including a
surfactant (detergent) polyoxyethyleneamine that enhance the spreading
of the spray droplets on the leaves of plants. The use of Roundup has
gone up especially in countries growing Roundup-tolerant GM crops
created by Monsanto.

Glyphosate kills plants by inhibiting the enzyme,
5-enolpyruvoyl-shikimate-3-phosphate synthetase (EPSPS), essential for
the formation of aromatic amino acids such as phenylalanine, tyrosine
and tryptophan; which leads onto vitamins and many secondary metabolites
such as folates, ubiquinones and naphthoquines. It is believed to be
rather specific in action and less toxic than other herbicides, because
the shikimate pathway is not present in mammals and humans. However,
glyphosate acts by preventing the binding of phosphoenol pyruvate to the
active site of the enzyme, and phosphoenol pyruvate is a core metabolite
present in all organisms; thus it has the potential to affect other
metabolic pathways. This is borne out by many reports of toxicities
associated with the herbicide reviewed in the Independent Science Panel
Report, The Case for a GM-free Sustainable World [1].

An epidemiological study in the Ontario farming populations showed that
glyphosate exposure nearly doubled the risk of late spontaneous
abortions [2], and Prof. Eric-Giles Seralini and his research team from
Caen University in France decided to find out more about the effects of
the herbicide on cells from the human placenta.

They have now shown that glyphosate is toxic to human placental cells,
killing a large proportion of them after 18 hr of exposure at
concentrations below that in agricultural use [3]. Moreover, Roundup is
always more toxic than its active ingredient, glyphosate; at least by
two-fold. The effect increased with time, and was obtained with
concentrations of Roundup 10 times lower than agricultural use.

The enzyme aromatase is responsible for making the female hormones
estrogens from androgens (the male hormones). Glyphosate interacts with
the active site of the enzyme but its effect on enzyme activity was
minimal unless Roundup was present.

Interestingly, Roundup increased enzyme activity after 1 h of
incubation, possibly because of its surfactant effect in making the
androgen substrate more available to the enzyme. But at 18h incubation,
Roundup invariably inhibited enzyme activity; the inhibition being
associated with a decrease in mRNA synthesis, suggesting that Roundup
decreased the rate of gene transcription. Seralini and colleagues
suggest that other ingredients in the Roundup formulation enhance the
availability or accumulation of glyphosate in cells.

There is, indeed, direct evidence that glyphosate inhibits RNA
transcription in animals at a concentration well below the level that is
recommended for commercial spray application Transcription was inhibited
and embryonic development delayed in sea urchins following exposure to
low levels of the herbicide and/or the surfactant polyoxyethyleneamine.
The pesticide should be considered a health concern by inhalation during
spraying [4].

New research shows that a brief exposure to commercial glyphosate caused
liver damage in rats, as indicated by the leakage of intracellular liver
enzymes. In this study, glyphosate and its surfactant in Roundup were
also found to act in synergy to increase damage to the liver [5].

Three recent case-control studies suggested an association between
glyphosate use and the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma [6-8]; while a
prospective cohort study in Iowa and North Carolina that includes more
than 54 315 private and commercial licensed pesticide applicators
suggested a link between glyphosate use and multiple myoeloma [9].
Myeloma has been associated with agents that cause either DNA damage or
immune suppression. These studies did not distinguish between Roundup
and glyphosate, and it would be important for that to be done.

There is now a wealth of evidence that glyphosate requires worldwide
health warnings and new regulatory review. Meanwhile, its use should be
reduced to a minimum as a matter of prudent precaution.

References
The Case for a GM-Free Sustainable World, Chapter 7, ISIS & TWN, London
& Penang, 2003.
Savitz DA, Arbuckle , Kaczor D, Curtis KM. Male pesticide exposure and
pregnancy outcome. Am J Epidemiol 2000, 146, 1025-36.
Richard S, Moslemi S, Sipahutar H, Benachour N and Seralini G-E.
Differential effects of glyphosate and Roundup on human placental cells
and aromatases
Marc J, Le Breton M, CormierP, Morales J, BelleR and Mulner-Lorillo O.
A glyphosate-based pesticide impinges on transcription. Toxicology and
Applied Pharmacology 2005, 203, 1-8.
Benedetti AL, de Lourdes Vituri C, Trentin AG, Dominguesc MAC and
Alvarez-Silva M. The effects of sub-chronic exposure of Wistar rats to
the herbicide Glyphosate-Biocarb. Toxicology Letters 2004, 153, 22732.
De Roos AH, Zahm SH, Cantor KP, et al. Integrative assessment of
multiple pesticides as risk factors for non-Hodgkins lymphoma among
men. Occup Environ Med 2003, 60, E11
http://oem.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/full/60/9/e11
Hardell L, Eriksson M, Nordstrom M. Exposure to pesticides as risk
factor for non-Hodgkins lymphoma and hairy cell leukemia: pooled
analysis of two Swedish case-control studies. Leuk Lymphoma 2002,
43,10431049.
McDuffie HH, Pahwa P, McLaughlin JR, Spinelli JJ, Fincham S, Dosman JA,
et al. 2001. Non-Hodgkins lymphoma and specific pesticide exposures in
men: cross-Canada study of pesticides and health. 2001, Cancer Epidemiol
Biomarkers Prev 2001,10,115563.
De Roos AJ, Blair A, Rusiecki JA, Hoppin JA, Svec M, Dosemeci M, Sandler
DP and Alavanja MC. Cancer incidence among glyphosate-exposed pesticide
applicators in the agricultural health study. Environ Health Perspect
2005, 113, 49-54.

The Institute of Science in Society, PO Box 32097, London NW1 OXR
telephone: [44 20 8452 2729] [44 20 7272 5636]

General Enquiries sam@i-sis.org.uk - Website/Mailing List
press-release@i-sis.org.uk - ISIS Director m.w.ho@i-sis.org.uk

********************************************************************** ******
****************************
This GMO news service is underwritten by a generous grant from the Newman's
Own Foundation, edited by Thomas Wittman and is a production of the
Ecological Farming Association www.eco-farm.org
*********************


 o
RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

Thanks for posting the whole article, Althea. I've been warned by the Powers-That-Be against posting copywritten materials; this one is allowed as long as full attributions are included. Prof. Cummins has been issuing commentaries on/criticisms of published scientific papers on glyphosate and related herbicides. The evidence mounts about health and safety concerns about the herbicides, particularly the "inert" and synergistic materials added to the commercial formulations.


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

Great article, Althea...is that available anywhere on the web? I'd like to link to that for my "organic-with-roundup" clients (you know the type).

I'm having a different issue with the RU now...what to do with the rest of the bottle? I guess the landfill is the only real option.

I'm coming up on another struggle now...we have a wet meadow which is overrun by reed canary. It's a wetland, therefore under DEP rules, which say that we CAN'T use tilling, solarization, or (technically) hand-digging, and have asked us to use Rodeo instead (which is just glyphosate without the binding agents). That's turning out to be much more of a stumper than the thistles...the uninvaded parts have milkweeds, joepyeweeds, asters, goldenrods, ironweeds, almistas, etc., and are a beauty to behold all year round. My first instinct would be to stake in silky dogwood, willow, and alder to shade it out, but part of the meadow is under powerlines, therefore no shrubs allowed.

If it's not one thing, it's another :). If it weren't so wet, I'd use the goats, but foot-rot doesn't sound like much fun (for them or for me).


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

oh johnny, your met meadow sounds beautiful! I am sad to hear about the reed canary grass. It is pretty much impossible (takes alot of work) to get rid of...and unfortunately, if you dont get rid of it, eventually that will be only plant left in the wet meadow :-(

you may be able to get temporary variances on the the deq rules for tilling or solarization, specific to controlling invasive species in accordance with an approved wetland maitenance and monitoring plan...something worth discussing with them in detail. i would think the deq would rather you control it than lose the rest of the meadow.

i like to look at the Wisconsin DNR invasive species control site as they provide pretty good description of each species and their reccomendations for control. the link might be useful for you...

Here is a link that might be useful: WI DNR canary reed grass info


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

Johnny, the url to the article is at the very beginning. Here it is again: http://www.i-sis.org.uk/GTARW.php .

I recommend taking your left over herbicide to your county household hazardous waste collection. Household hazardous waste here includes lawn & garden chemicals. It probably does in PA too.

I've never heard of canary reed grass. Can you cut it & feed it to the goats, and after it has been cut, reseed with native grasses with hopes of them filling in while the canary grass in weakened?


 o
RE: Losing battle to the thistles...,p.s.

I understand from The One Who Knows, these fora do not allow a direct link to the ISIS website.


 o
RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

Hey look....

Here is a link that might be useful: I-SIS


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

Thanks Carol.


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

"I've never heard of canary reed grass. Can you cut it & feed it to the goats, and after it has been cut, reseed with native grasses with hopes of them filling in while the canary grass in weakened?"

The problem is that unless we had a long drought, there's really no way to harvest this stuff as hay without causing severe disturbance to the soil (the tractor would sink in pretty far in on such wet ground). If we have a no-rain period for more than a week, I could probably put the portable fence in there to let the goats munch the stuff, but goats ain't sheep, and won't eat it to the ground unless I lock them in there for a couple weeks (in which case they might turn to eating the poisonous plants).

"I understand from The One Who Knows, these fora do not allow a direct link to the ISIS website."

Given our kind host's penchion (sp?) for free speech and proper footnoting, that sounds a bit silly. In any case, thanks, Carol, for the link!

FYI: Reed Canary is one of those odd native plants that suddenly becomes invasive in disturbed habitats (Phragmites and Ragweed are two other examples of this type).


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

First, I forgot to say "you're welcome Marshall". I've comne to respect Prof. Cummins opinions on this and other issues.

"but goats ain't sheep"

How about getting a couple of sheep?

I've tried to link sites that have been banned for whatever reason. I forgot exactly what the message says, but your message won't get past preview if you try to link a banned site.


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

Interesting... 'nuff said on the banned site issue :)

I don't want sheep because (a) I personally find them to be rather stupid and unloveable animals, (b) because they have messy poop (unlike goat "pellets"), (c) sheep really need a dedicated and maintained "pasture", while goats are more than happy to eat multiflora rose, japanese honeysuckle, and other things I don't like and don't need to maintain (i.e., goats are low maintenance), and (d) I had enough of a time convinceing my wife that goats are a good thing to have, and I'm currently entrenched in the "we could really use some chickens" battle...no need to add sheep to the list :).

Besides, sheep are very susceptible to foot rot, and would not be happy in my wet meadow.

Is there such a thing as a miniature hippo? That might be just the thing!


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

Well, I'm surprised no one has brought forward this link yet. Organic control of thistles (under some very specific conditions).

Could be hype, or could be real. We live very close to Saltspring Island, and it is loaded with organic "hobby farms".

Here is a link that might be useful: Bye Bye Canada Thistle


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RE: Losing battle to the thistles...

  • Posted by vstech z7 Charlotte (My Page) on
    Thu, Aug 18, 05 at 14:47

again, sorry I did not know about this site years ago! anyway, I lived in SD near Rapid City, and CT was very tenatious there, we always followed the general practice used there by the farmers, wait for it to form flowers, then cut it down before the flowers turn to seed, repeat three times a year, 2 years, thistle gone!
neat story about the soil amendments, if the stuff ever invades my NC home, I will give it a try.


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