A method for getting rid of perennial thistles (but NOT canada thistle

patandchickens

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The other thread about canada thistle made me think of this, but it doesn't apply to canada thistle so I'm putting this separately.

If you have obnoxious perennial thistles OTHER THAN canada thistle, here is something that has worked quite surprisingly well for me:

Let the buggers grow all the way up until the first flowers are almost ready to open.

Then cut them down at or below ground level. I use strong loppers, or a pointed shovel that's been seriously sharpened with a mill file. Stand clear when the thistle falls, as having a seven-foot spiny plant crash down onto your shoulders is no fun, ask me how I know. BTW, loppers make good 'pincers' for grabbing the fallen plants to drag them away, too.

I did this (not as Clever Strategy, just playing catch-up) in several different parts of the horse pasture several years in a row, and in every case, what do you know, less than 5% of those thistles came back the next year (when they were easily whacked while still in the rosette stage). I think they must have put so much into growing tall enough to flower that the roots lacked the strength to come back for another year. I have not tried it in the garden -- and it's possible that with better soil their survival might be a bit higher -- but I have been exceptionally pleased with this method and certainly recommend it to anyone who wants a low energy input solution. While the thistles are growing up to flower, tell the neighbors they're some exotic form of artichoke or something :p


Pat, where thistles and all are still covered by the %#&/@ snow
 

beefy

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i use a similar method with thistles in the cow pasture. except i use a machete'. some thistles will continue to flower (and seed) if you leave them laying there, so i try to get them a little before a little before they get ready to flower. also if you cut the big stalks before a rain, they collect water in there and rot ...
 

MeanQueenNadine

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That is basically the method I use for bindweed....let it grow to flower then pull whatever you can. The plant has used up its reserves to produce the flower and the root is dramatically weaker. Down side to this is of course not getting out there in time, letting it go to seed....then Good Grief Charlie Brown......

I also agree that I would put bags on the flowers cause they will continue to go to seed/thistle..... not the bind weed. For me putting a liberal dose of salt on the exposed root greatly improves my chances of the root dying off......again for the thistle not the bindweed........for the bindweed I like to put vinegar (pickling strength) in a ziplock bag and zip it 95-98% up and then thread a nice long piece of bind weed into it & sip it up as much as possible. Some people prefer to use round up instead of the vinegar, that way the root is delivering the poison directly for you. Obviously these methods are best used in small area's or 1 area at a time so you can stay on top.

To clear major areas I like to just use the lasagna method of composting over a long period of time, and I mean LONG, years or two or three or.....
 
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