Use of plastic to get rid of wild violet?

nothwehrApril 16, 2011

I am in the process of converting my backyard from a combination of grass and "weeds" to edibles and native plants. So last Fall I used a "lasagna mulch" approach and covered several areas destined to become beds with cardboard and then a few inches of leaf-gro soil followed by leaves, compost, etc. The idea was that this would kill the grass and other unwanted plants and this spring I would be ready to put in the plants I wanted. Well, the grass and some weeds did die but I have Wild Violet popping up everywere. The cardboard didn�t stop this perennial weed which is able to store quite bit of energy in its roots. So I have had to mechanically work the soil by spading it up followed by rototilling and in some cases going through each chunk of soil by hand to pull out all parts of the Wild Violet plant and through into black trash bags to die a slow death (I hope) in my garage. According to at least one thread I have seen on the Garden Web, it takes some pretty harsh herbicides to kill it and since I have a lot of edibles I decided against that route.

There is a fairly large area between newly planted trees and shrubs that I don�t intend to plant on this year. I was hoping I could simply cover it with hardwood mulch but I�m sure the wild violet that has already come up through the lasagna mulch would have no trouble coming up through the hardwood mulch. I really don�t relish the idea of putting in the time and effort to mechanically remove the Wild Violet from such a large area. I have read that one can water an area then cover it with plastic to "cook" the soil and after a few months all the weeds underneath should be dead. In my case I would leave a bit of space around the trees to water them. Do you think this might kill Wild Violet? Should I use black plastic or clear plastic? How long would this process take? Would covering the soil with plastic be harmful to my newly planted cherry trees, blueberries, and juneberries? Does anyone have any other ideas for getting rid of this weed organically? Thanks!

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manure_queen(md 7)

google solarizing a garden for info and directions

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 3:10PM
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Thanks for google search advice. I tried searches previously but using the term 'solarization' has led me to some interesting links. I would be curious to hear from others who have used solarization to kill weeds. Wild violet is a particularly tough weed to as it has a tuber-like root. I'm a little skeptical whether solarization will work but it would save me a lot of work if it would.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 8:56PM
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Hardwood bark mulch won't kill them.

You can do a pretty good job of removing wild violet by pulling out the rhizomes in early spring. They mostly lie on top of the soil. They look like they OUGHT to be something you've planted. In that magic week of early March when the soil is saturated but they haven't put out leaves or roots, they're easy to pull out.

You might consider though, that as a native plant they are a food plant for great spangled frittilary butterfly and some of its near relations.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 12:10PM
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gemini_jim(7 MD)

If you keep cutting or pulling the leaves, the rhizome will eventually weaken and die, but it might take all season. I have a lot of violets, and I'm resolved to live with them and keep them from over-running everything. Besides the rhizome that can grow on the surface of the ground or buried a foot deep, they reseed prolifically. I learned to recognize the seedlings so I can pull them when they're still tiny and fragile. Whoever coined the term "shrinking violet" never gardened with these guys!

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 2:48PM
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Are you talking about the white violet that gets tall, instead of just having leaves at the base?

I spared a few plants a few seasons ago, and now it has spread over much of our lawn.

Aren't violets and their greens edible? (Thinking dark violet thoughts).

    Bookmark   May 19, 2011 at 9:21PM
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