heavy duty weed puller?

Any ideas for a seriously heavy duty weed puller?
Part of my yard -- and my next door neighbor's yard, and other places in my neighborhood, which is a veritable hotspot of invasive exotics -- is infested with clerodendrum. Beautiful flowers, stinks, highly invasive, perennial -- and tough. Stems 1/8" to 3/8" in diameter, probably more if left alone. It sprouts vigorously from the roots, and so has to be pulled to have any chance of knocking it back. (My next door neighbor tried mowing it. She ended up with a stronger crop than before.)
Now, when I was 25, I'd have just grabbed the things and pulled them up -- 90% or so aren't too bad. But it's thirty years later and I have arthritis in several joints in my hands, and have already aggravated it trying to pull these things.
And the clerodendrum is the easy stuff. I also have lots of ardesia, which is ten times tougher to pull. It has seriously tough roots, and the only reason I have to believe pulling it is a possibility is that the stem is just as tough.
So I've been looking for some kind of tool to help pull the clerodendrum. I bought a Weed-Ho at a local store, and while it's a useful tool, it's too light weight. On the web, the only possibility I've see is the Extratigator:
http://www.merlesmechanical.com/extractigator.htm
It's expensive -- US$122 with shipping and possibly import duty too, and the fact that they haven't answered my email doesn't bode well. More importantly, it appears to depend on rather narrow tines pushing on the surface of the ground, and they'd almost certainly just dig in to my Florida soil. So I'd additionally have to figure out a way to attach a board to the tool, or carry one around, to spread the force.
My concept has been a device with a cam (or double cam) to grip the stem and grip it tighter as I pull up, with handles (solid or rope) and hand grips to pull up. While this wouldn't offer the leverage of the Extractigator, it would be a lot easier to manoevre in close quarters. Or the cams with handles like a lopper, with a ratchet, so that you pull the toughie by opening and closing the handles.
I would have thought such a thing would have a good market, but I haven't seen anything like it -- the Extractigator is the only thing I've seen that grips a solid stem for me.
I will appreciate any and all ideas!
Edward
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Something like this?
http://www.naturalgardening.com/cgi-bin/shop/S-Mart.cgi?command=listitems&type=group&pos=0&pg=tools&group=garden
I remember a tool, a heavy-duty bar that grabbed roots of shrubs up to small trees and pulled them out by the roots with a rocking motion, priced similarly to the above tool, but it was beefier....I can't find it. If I do, I'll post it here.
--
Ann, Gardening in zone 6a
Just south of Boston, MA
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On Sat, 16 Oct 2004 6:55:01 -0400, Ann wrote

http://www.naturalgardening.com/cgi-bin/shop/S - Mart.cgi?command=listitems&typ
Ooh, that does look serious. The picture only shows the business end; I've written them to ask about the handles. Thanks! If I get it, I'll report back.

Yes, please do. The things I'm worried about have strong, tangled roots, so grabbing the roots would be even better.
On Sat, 16 Oct 2004 10:20:06 -0400, zxcvbob wrote

Definitely a strong resemblance.

Well, a lot of it is that I like taking care of the yard myself, even if I need better tools. However, as I get older I know I'll have to depend on others to help, so your point is well taken.

Hmm, I'd have to experiment. It's a possibility. I'd have to have one person cutting and another following with the herbicide to hit them before we lost them ... there are so many of the small (c. 1/8") stems.
Thanks to both,
Edward
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Edward Reid wrote:

That looks very much like a conduit bender.
Have you thought about paying a kid $20 to pull them up? Or cutting them down and dabbing the stumps with a paintbrush with a strong herbicide?
Bob
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rec.gardens wrote:

Borrow a teenager?
I have found the best time to pull these years is just after a soaking rain.
For those ridiculously tough plants or 10" trees if you spade the ground next to it they will usually give up pretty easily.
Worst case scenario, or best, depending on how you look at it, is for the 2 foot+ opportunistic trees where you may need to tie a 1/2" nylon braided rope to the tow eye on your car and tie a slip knot to the bottom of the little trunk (so that it tightens as it pulls) which you have spaded around -- and then just back up slowly. I have done that quite a few times and haven't broken a rope yet but have pulled 12-14" tap roots out.
FACE
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rec.gardens wrote:

I just looked at the extractigator site. Relatively simple concept and construction for a relatively ridiculous price. Loved the child-alone warning for a piece of pipe.
FACE
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On Sat, 16 Oct 2004 1:08:44 -0400, Edward Reid
<snip>
Hi Edward,
Here are a few more links to pullers you can consider:
Not exactly a stem gripper, but it would loosen the ground around the weed and maybe get it up (shrug).
http://www.leevalley.com/garden/page.asp?SID=&ccurrency=2&pageD725&category=2%2C2160%2C40706
It doesn't say so here, but I've seen this locally and it was made by Fiskars. I'm not sure how long it would hold up under hard use though...
http://www.amleo.com/index/item.cgi?cmd=view&Words=sw3
I also saw this locally and it looked pretty heavy duty. Hard to say for sure though, it would depend on the quality of the wood handle and steel that was used.
http://www.amleo.com/index/item.cgi?cmd=view&Words=gwc1
Good luck!
--
Leon Fisk
Grand Rapids MI/Zone 5b
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On Wed, 20 Oct 2004 14:47:53 -0400, Leon Fisk wrote

Yes, I wouldn't trust it for this job. I don't think I mentioned -- the clerodendrum has pretty tough roots -- it spreads by runners -- and they spread quite a way. Ardesia has even tougher roots.

Now this is certainly interesting. Much better pictures at the manufacturer's web site:
http://www.grampasweeder.com /
Reasonable price too, about 1/4 of the Extractigator. It might help with the smaller clerodendrum, though not with the ardesia. It should be useful for a variety of other things. I think I'd still have to put a board under the lever arm in soft soil.
Pulling the larger clerodendrum definitely requires either a VERY strong grip on the stem or roots, or getting under the roots. Some of the devices around look like they just won't grip tightly enough.
FACE: I sort of like the idea of pulling them with the car. Might be a bit slow, as there's probably well over 100 stems needing this treatment, and that doesn't even count the small ones that are easier to pull. Maybe I could do this trick with my bicycle, which is easier to maneuvre? ;-)
Earlier discussion mentioned the Weed and Brush Puller at
http://www.naturalgardening.com/cgi-bin/shop/S - Mart.cgi?command=listitems&type=group&pos=0&pg=tools&group=garden
I asked, and they sent me a photo of the entire device. For anyone who's interested, I've put that photo up at
http://paleo.org/temp/tools_weedbrush.jpg
It looks like it also has a lever arrangement -- two flat prongs coming out the back. I've asked for clarification. The prongs look a little wider than the others, but I think would still need a board in my soil, but maybe not always.
My search continues, but I'm feeling a lot better about the choices available. Thanks!
Edward
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rec.gardens wrote:

I just did a Google Image on clerodendrum and it really looks very pretty -- but maybe those are specialty cultivars.

If you do it on a bike, then be prepared to go over the handlebars when you reach the end of the rope.
I know that the car trick sounds drastic. I only use it for opportunistic trees that have gotten to a coupla feet and man-powered pulling is out of the question. Even then i will spade around the trunk to loosen things up a bit before I pull. (That's the trunk of the tree -- not the car.)

For $115 it should do the pulling by itself while you sit on the porch. :-)
Consider that you can buy a "specialty" shovel from Home Depot for about 5 bucks. Actually, this specialty shovel is cleverly disguised to look like a common pointed shovel, but incorporates a hardened steel pointed end and a wide thin blade engineered for easy ground penetration up to 8 inches as well as a long hardwood handle for excellent leverage.
Most especially after a rain that has softened the ground this scientific and ergonometric implement will easily dislodge roots that have grappled into down into soil and allow an easy pickup of the targeted plant or seedling tree.
The writer here has had much experience using this amazing device which is multi-usage and can also be employed for other things like digging holes in the ground. Just last week the wife spotted a nice fern back in the woods that was really supposed to be at the edge of the yard and using the specialty shovel and spading in a circle around the subject fern a perfect root ball was made which with the final push came up from the ground cradled on the wide specialty blade.
Amazing device!
FACE

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On Thu, 21 Oct 2004 10:42:55 -0400, FACE wrote

Oh, it IS pretty. Beautiful flowers. Actually Clerodendrum is a large genus -- depending on which web page you hit, maybe 100 species, maybe 400. All native to SE Asia. Most info says that they won't survive below 45F and need a greenhouse, but obviously there are exceptions. I don't know what species I have, but the weather gets below freezing every winter here (Tallahassee) and we had one night down around 22F winter before last (in town -- 15F in rural areas) and it wasn't fazed at all.
It would be a lovely garden plant if it weren't so damned invasive. I think I mentioned that it propagates by runners. I've had to pull it out of azalea beds because it was threatening to shade out the azaleas! Yech. I don't need that. And to add insult, the disturbed foliage has a rather obnoxious scent.
I should check tomorrow to see if any are in bloom so I can post a pic for you.

I suppose you could try dynamite. Actually ISTR my father trying the car trick with some tree once when I was growing up. I don't think it worked for him.
I don't think I've found any of my clerodendrum that needs this treatment. Even the strongest ones, I can pull by hand IF I can get a good enough grip without hurting my hands. IOW it's stronger than my fingers but not stronger than my legs. Probably is stronger than my fingers were even when I was young. And if there's a handful that are stronger than my legs, I don't mind digging a few. Just not a few hundred.

Yeah, well, that gets back to the "hire a teenager" idea. If it were 1/3 or maybe even 1/2 that price, I'd say I'll just try it.

I like working in my yard, but digging up 200 woody weeds by digging 200 holes still doesn't sound like I'm having fun yet.
Edward
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rec.gardens wrote:

I am sure you are well-acquainted with the nuances of hand pulling unwanted garden growth. Sudden brute force seldom works unless you just want to tear off the plant at the ground. What does work, especially in getting out the roots, is steady applied pressure. I am not talking about minutes, but 5-15 seconds.
FACE
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On Fri, 22 Oct 2004 9:47:44 -0400, FACE wrote

All depends on the weed of course. With many, pulling the stem will never get the roots. The clerodendrum has a strong stem and will usually bring up a lot of root with it. 5-15 seconds? I should be so lucky. When I've been able to pull them, I've pulled on some for a minute or too. My fingers paid for it the next day.
None in bloom right now.
Edward
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