horsetail

the field to the north used to have a nice mound of dirt at the corner on the other side of the ditch so that when people forgot there was a T there they would hit it (often coming from the bar a few miles to the west). often i hear or feel them when it happens. tonight i heard it, but the guy who owns the field had moved that mound of dirt away (i'm now worried that the power line pole will get hit...) so i checked it out and the person was driving a truck and managed to get out of the ditch and back on the road... so, well, i'm awake for a while... :)
i've been out digging, cleaning up one edge of the garden i will be using next season to plant beans again, where i've put the third strawberry patch (with garlic interplanted because the garden is unfenced and we do have deer and bunnies that come through from time to time) and where i'll be playing with onions of several kinds. the top portion of the garden has plenty of daffodils and crocus in it now. we moved a bunch of daffodils from the fenced gardens to use that space for tomatoes this summer.
the biggest reason to finish this edge is to finally track down the last major roots of the horsetail that tried to take over that whole garden. the secondary reason is to clean up the edge where a lot of weeds were sprouting in the limestone. and the third reason was to change the drainage a bit from the runoff off the house.
the horsetail likes to roam quite a ways and sends out runners underground. it really seems to like going along a black plastic layer i'm taking up and so when i get a chance i will be taking some pictures to give a good graphic example of what this plant can do. it also seems to burrow through clay and is quite easily propagate from pieces of root that are quite small so if you miss a little it will be back.
as there are a few birdbaths in the area i'll have to work around them leaving a resevoir of roots under them that i will have to seal in very well.
the good news is that if you keep turning the soil and disturbing the roots (bringing them to the surface and removing what you can find to dry out good before composting or just leaving them on the surface and drying in place and keeping an eye on them so they don't get restarted) eventually they will run out of energy and give up.
i'd already tracked down most of it that had been growing in about a third of the garden, it took a lot of digging, patience and persistence, but this past season there was very little horsetail coming up in the various bean patches. i left the corner and the edge for last because it was going to be a major project and i had plenty of other things to keep me busy. with the okish weather we've had lately i could finally get out and i sure hope i can get this done before the TG holiday.
today was spent digging up most of the last chunks of horsetail and the corner of the chives where it was going to start taking over that whole edge. the dirt i will need to keep so i've stacked it up and over the course of next summer i'll break it down a few times and stir it all to keep the horsetail from knowing which way is up and get the larger roots out that i can find. the smell of chives being dug up is pretty gross to me so that was a fun day. if the weather holds we'll see if i can get the digging and leveling done tomorrow and then get it all covered in weed barrier and then put down some limestone. any remaining roots will not get through that. finding what i can and getting them out of there will help make sure there's not much energy left for any pieces i miss.
glyphosate will work on horsetail eventually. it helps a lot to stomp on it and using a good wetting agent to spray. i have wanted to spray every time i see horsetail anywhere on the property, but the bad result is that it opens up the ground for other invasives and so it seems like it just replaces one problem with a half dozen others. not counting the trouble of erosion if it is along the ditch.
digging is good exercise and having a worthy foe keeps the noodle sharp.
ok, the wind has taken out the power so i have to shut down.
songbird
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Bob F wrote:

when i was spraying (several years ago) it took several applications no matter what was used. but the roots had gone under surrounding edges and they could travel and come up quite a ways away from where it started. as it was all a perennial garden i didn't want to dig up or disturb it very much.
once i'd decided to turn that garden into a veggie garden then i ended up digging it out. that took a lot of effort but it did knock it back significantly within two rounds. i only had the one corner and two edges to finish up (about 95% less area than before).
spot spraying would have meant a lot of herbicide going into a place i wanted to put veggies ASAP. 300 - 400sqft (about 1/3 of the garden).
now i just have a little bit of one edge to finish and i'll be done. don't expect to see much horsetail next season in this garden, but will keep a close eye on it.
songbird
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