The Thistle: my nemesis

Ginny McLean_Petite_GardenJune 24, 2009

This may be a futile question but I am asking anyway. I have been at war with the ever evil thistle for the last five seasons. If any of you seasoned gardeners out there have any ammo secrets that I have not tried, besides blowing them out of the ground with a shotgun, PLEASE share them with me and the other members. :(


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northspruce(z3a MB CDA)

What type of thistle exactly? For me the worst is the perennial sow thistle, because it has big thick horizontal roots, several inches down, and if you don't get those out it will just keep sprouting ad infinitum.

Canada Thistles are annoying and painful but I find if you wear gloves and get the whole root out, they don't come back too fast.

I'm trying to decide if my nemesis is Chickweed or Campanulas.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2009 at 9:55AM
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Can you believe some people plant them in their gardens. My neighbor had some because she thought they were pretty, now that I have new neighbors I hope they will be gone. She would let them go to seed and I spend every summer trying to pull them out of the middle of the juniper. Choke vine is a close 2nd for me

    Bookmark   June 24, 2009 at 10:58AM
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LOL I also have one that shows up in the middle of my juniper. Every year I pull it out, every year it comes back.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2009 at 11:10AM
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Ginny McLean_Petite_Garden

Good question. I think they are PITA thistle (pain in the ###). Very tall, very large, very prickly with purple flower heads and the roots grow up to 30 feet I am told by horticulturists.
I do have a secret that I have not tried yet but am afaid of the extended damage that may result. I will try a small patch and let you know the results in a couple of days.
These thistles have been alive and thriving for many years. At least I know my soil is healthy!


    Bookmark   June 24, 2009 at 12:36PM
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marciaz3 Tropical 3 Northwestern Ontario

I once read somewhere that a thistle's function is to "break up" the soil and that's why it grows so well in gardens. I really thought its function was to annoy the heck out of me, not to mention make life miserable with its prickles. Over the years, i've just kept on pulling, and they're a little less prevalent now. Notice i said "a little". :-/

I'm trying to think what's the worst for me. Some years it has been plantains, but mostly it's dandelions and grass. I'm growing a bumper crop of both this year.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2009 at 11:01PM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

I think we're all in war every year with weeds, some are worse then others, for me chickweed is # 1, followed by Canada Thistle.
Make sure not to get them into flowering stage,'s they do, then you've got to fight them for many more years.


    Bookmark   June 26, 2009 at 1:19AM
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Just came in from applying RoundUp to Canada thistle growing in the newly seeded lawn areas. I just paint the stuff on in such a case ... but, othewise use the sprayer. Over the last couple of years, I have noticed that if you pull sow thistle out when in flower, this will really do a number on them. I had thought they'd just come back from all the roots left behind, but seems to kill them outright, at least in my experience.


    Bookmark   June 26, 2009 at 6:10PM
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Honalee, I don't have a solution for you, ( other than letting the quackgrass take over and drive you nuts, and then it seems to keep the thistles at bay Ha, Ha !) but I have to tell you that your posting has given me quite a few laughs. I've read it about five times, and always picture Elmer Fudd blowing the thistles out of the ground with a shotgun ! =:)

Have you tried your "secret" yet? It sounds like it might do more damage than good?

    Bookmark   June 26, 2009 at 7:40PM
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Ginny McLean_Petite_Garden

I have yet to try my "secret" as it has been very windy here the last few days. Hopefully, the wind slows down tomorrow. I'm itching to see if it works. The Wascally Wabbits!
I have used Roundup repeatedly and also pulled them in bloom (or just prior) to no avail. They seem to mutate. These guys are really tough! They had been left to seed in the neighbours park for so many years. I'm afraid it is going to take an army to annihilate them! Or maybe I will start farming them!


    Bookmark   June 27, 2009 at 12:07AM
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Is there any way you could try boiling water poured repeatedly on the thistle roots? Are they too close to other plants? I was going to try to get rid of dandelions by putting boiling water (maybe mixed with vinegar)in a funnel jabbed into the ground. I'm not sure if that sounds silly or not?

I just got rid of an ant hill that was where I just couldn't let it stay, by repeatedly pouring boiling water into a hole that I dug in the ant hill.( about 8 kettles full ) It sure killed the grass near it !

I'm guessing this won't work for you because you've got too many thistles, but .........slowly but surely sometimes wins the race.

Oh, BTW, things like Roundup don't work as well when used over and over, you need to change methods often, but you may already know that.

I'm still laughing and picturing Elmer =:)

    Bookmark   June 27, 2009 at 1:30AM
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Have you made any progress with your thistles?

    Bookmark   July 3, 2009 at 12:54AM
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This works, although it may offend the sensibilities of organic folks:

Cut, slice or saw the thistle's main stem as near the ground as possible. Immediately saturate the open wound with Round-Up. Watch it die. (Be sure to dispose of the flower head promptly - you don't want it going to seed.)

    Bookmark   August 7, 2009 at 9:19PM
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Ginny McLean_Petite_Garden

And now for my next trick........I need a few about thirty! My thistles are now trees! I need to crawl into a story book and find Paul Bunyan!
I got a horse needle and syringe to inject the poison......ready Igore? >:#


    Bookmark   August 8, 2009 at 1:10PM
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Here are a couple of things you might try. I'm looking for another. Would you believe a search for weed in rec.gardening.edible returns no hits.

perhaps the most satisfying

expensive unless you rent

    Bookmark   August 10, 2009 at 12:01PM
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I have tried the boiling water method and although you might have to repeat the process with side shoots, it seems to work well. I pour it right from the kettle so the the stream is limited and causes the least damage to plants around it. I found it works better than Round-up and is much cheaper too! If only chickweed was so easy... :(

    Bookmark   August 18, 2009 at 11:28PM
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