Thumping season continues - gird your loins!

... coming from here: http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/956511/

Killing frosts, bugs that will eat from our gardens leaving nothing for us and any other foe of garden bliss beware. We will do battle and thump you most earnestly upon your head.

Albuquerque, NM(Zone 7b)

LoL. You sound very serious Angele. Have you made that declaration to the bugs in your garden?

Ennis, MT(Zone 4a)

Thank you immensely, Angele.

I take that same forbidding attitude towards grasshoppers but I am far more relaxed to the rest of the crawly or winged insect crowd. I think I probably have nearly every bug known to god or man living in the hoop house, but they mostly seem preoccupied with eating each other instead of the plants. That works for me.

Grasshoppers are the gruesome exception, boy, do they eat plants!

I love it when a Mantis, beneficial wasp or lady bug does battle for my garden. I had a Mantis ootheca on a russian sage last spring. It was a great day when the nymphs emerged.
So far I haven't had too much trouble. Lots of tomato worms had to be relocated last year and a water hose battle was waged against spider mites. Aphids were not as bad as the year before. I wonder what this year will bring.

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

Thanks for the new thread, angele! Luckily I don't have very many grasshoppers where I live -- tomato hornworms yes.... eeeuuuuwww!

Calgary, AB(Zone 3a)

I luv bug battles too and mostly my goodguy bugs prevail.

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

I use germ warfare on caterpillars -- hornworms and cabbage loopers in particular.

Albuquerque, NM(Zone 7b)

I came across the theory that more subtantially mineralized plants don't have the same problems with bugs. I've been curious as to whether that really works.

Gastonia, NC(Zone 7b)

I have a kind of mystical faith in compost. When I was first learning about compost one factoid that stuck in my brain was something about how compost over time produces such a vast array of chemicals, it pretty much is bound to come to the one that is the right medicine for a sick plant. (Sort of the immortal monkey at the typewriter eventually getting around to Shakespeare kind of thing, but still)

I did have an experience of Compost Healing -- when Fuschias all got that blight that turned out to be some teensy spider mite infestation that was just everywhere, and none of the poisons really worked, I had one of my composts under a row of pretty sick old fuschias........ which sort of magically did get better, quite a bit better, noticeable by the landlord who marveled at how healthy they started to look, when all the other fuschias around were still looking horrible and diseased...... the only explanation was that compost right there at their roots....

Sort of backs up that theory, Dparsons.

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

Compost not only has lots of minerals, but also lots of antibiotics and other healing stuff. It can and does prevent/cure disease in plants. Different plants take up different minerals from the soil and if you compost them all together, you will get just about anything a plant could want. Plus, in Western soils, there are lots of minerals chemically bound into the soil. Compost neutralizes our western soils so they are freed from the chemical bonds that hold them unavailable in our alkaline soils. Compost can cure almost anything!

Albuquerque, NM(Zone 7b)

Perhaps I'll start taking some then.

:)

Gastonia, NC(Zone 7b)

LOL!

Albuquerque, NM(Zone 7b)

Looking at my joke again, its not too far from the truth.

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

Well, even I wouldn't go that far! LOL!

perhaps you can just put a layer of compost inside your shoes. Dr. Scholl are you listening?

Albuquerque, NM(Zone 7b)

We do eat "composted" milk and grains.

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

True -- yogurt and are you thinking of miso for composted grain? or whiskey?

Albuquerque, NM(Zone 7b)

Bread.

Miso, whiskey, beer, and cheese also.

Can add tofu (beans) to the list too.

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

Oh, yes. Bread. Tofu isn't fermented though, I understand. But miso is and the Asians use many kinds of fermented beans for flavor in cooking. Sounds horrible but tastes great.

Reno, NV

ROFLOL.

Gastonia, NC(Zone 7b)

Yes, compost can be quite intoxicating, who knew?

Littleton, CO(Zone 5a)

So along the lines of compost, I had a big compost pile last year, but I mostly put fruit and vegetable table scraps in it with some leaves and coffee grounds. Do others put plant scraps in theirs? Weed scraps??? I'm asking because I've read an awful lot about plants growing from cuttings or seeds that are decades old. Wouldn't you run into problems with plants/weeds seeding themselves in your beds? I hope to do more composting in the future, but I've been afraid to add yard scraps.

Gastonia, NC(Zone 7b)

It's a judgment call about that. I am still not set up with mine here but when I was, I would put most garden waste in if it was green and pliable enough. If it had noxious weed seeds, no. If it was too woody and branchy, it went in the woody branchy pile that was the slow compost of which I expected very little and got much later on.

You might get a hydrangea growing in the compost from pruned branches, but to me that would not be a big issue. In general I am in favor of composting more stuff than not, the more different stuff you put in there the richer and more complete your compost will be. Plus which, there is the issue of biomass. We remove unconscionable amounts of biomass from the soil with our civilized picky ways and the soil suffers badly for it. IMO.

Littleton, CO(Zone 5a)

Ok, good to know. I'll continue to torch and do happy dances around the burning piles of thistles, chickweed and whatever the evil grass is that is invading my lawn and everything else. But start mixing in the scraps of flowers and vegetables.

Albuquerque, NM(Zone 7b)

Seeds/weeds are fine as long as your compost pile gets hot enough to kill them. I don't add those items to mine as I don't run a thermometer and have had mixed results in the past. It would be the smaller part of the pile anyway so its just not worth it. Mine is mostly grass clippings and post-beer-making barley. I built it up all last year and started watering it and added a starter when it was warm earlier in the month. It has been shrinking and turning into a nice rich, brown mass. Should be close to by Tomato planting time.

Gastonia, NC(Zone 7b)

Chickweed I would not worry about (but then I actually like the stuff) but evil grasses, burn them, LOL! Thistles too, probably. Unless they are artichokes. ;-)

Littleton, CO(Zone 5a)

I love artichokes! I wouldn't burn them. But I probably won't get any until next spring.

You like Chickweed! It must be a friendlier version than mine. If I just blink my eyes it pops up all over the place and I can't pull up it's deep taproots. If I do try to pull it up, it just encourages 10 new plants to come up. Sheesh. Smothering it works well.

The thistles, well I had 2 or 3 pop up last year that I put chemicals on. Then a few weeks ago I pulled back a big stretch of ground cover close to where they were and where I'll be putting a vegetable garden this year only to find the biggest fatest masses of thistle roots going everywhere! I'm thinking big trouble this year. I carefully pulled up all I found then started carefully digging up the entire area getting every scrap I could find. There was seriously nothing else in the dirt except thistle roots. I can't believe the tenacity those suckers have! So assuming I missed something and I end up with a garden of thistles this year... any advice on how to seize control fast before I get over run?

Gastonia, NC(Zone 7b)

Wow, that would be discouraging! And not something I have much experience with either. All I can think of, beyond what you have done cleaning out the roots, is mulch heavily and plant stuff close together -- LOL! Command your space!!!!!

Seriously tho, good luck with that.

only reason I said that about artichokes is, artichokes are thistles too.

I don't think chickweed grows around here where I am now......

Albuquerque, NM(Zone 7b)

I am aware of 3 methods for getting rid of unwanted plants.
1. Pull them out.
2. Smother them (Newspaper with mulch over the Newspaper) so they don't get any light or air.
3. Use Herbicides

The 3 methods are not mutually exclusive. I had some Bermuda grass that came back in 2 areas from the previous owner's removal. I've used all three methods. Pulled as much as I reasonably could, covered over the rest, and obtained a selective herbicide to spray anything that beats the 1st two systems. I've only had to spray along cracks and edges where I couldn't get newspaper so far. Only other advice is to be careful about your herbicide selection if you get one.

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

If the weeds are ferocious, I recommend putting newspaper or better yet, cardboard over them, and weight them down with stones. Keeping the newspaper or cardboard wet also helps. The lack of light will kill them and the moisture will cause them to rot.
I have never used herbacide, but I haven't ever had to deal with bermuda grass. I also throw all weeds in my compost. I don't put in perennial grass, though, because the rhizomes on its roots will not be killed by composting -- unless you leave it for years, as I often do.
If you keep the compost wet, most weed seed will germinate then die. Any pile will generate some heat, which also helps kill weed seed, but if you add manure or alfalfa pellets to the pile it will generate more heat.
Weeds extract minerals from the soil that regular garden plants can't get at and that is why it is good to compost them. I believe there was an article about what weeds contribute a while back.
As for another way to set them back, when they first come up hoe them or turn the soil and that will kill most of them then you can cover them with cardboard. It is good to let the thistles stay in the soil -- especially if you cut them down before they go to seed, because they fertilize the soil. Mowing annual weeds like thistles will iradicate them completely if you keep them from going to seed.
One idea is to mow them with the lawn mower every time they get a few inches high. That keeps them from going to seed. Grass clippings are also excellent for compost. They help the pile heat because they contain lots of nitrogen. Tree leaves are great for compost, though they take longer to decay than some things. Nevertheless, the earthworms really like to live in the leaves and they turn them in to very fine worm castings -- about the size of coffee grounds or smaller -- and that is one of the best things your plants can be fed.
The only thing not to compost is things that are too thick and woody -- unless you have a chipper shredder to grind them up. You can do as dparsons does and put them in their own separate compost pile which is much slower than the others.
You will find all kinds of instructions about compost, but here is the thing to remember -- everything rots eventually, especially if it is kept moist. Adding manure and grass clippings speeds it up, but eventually it will all rot and will supply more nutrients to your soil than any fertilizer can supply and with fewer salts which are bad for the soil.
It took me years to quit being nervous about composting -- you read so many complicated ways of making it. Turning it helps, keeping it moist helps, but in the end it will rot even if you do neither. It will just take longer.

lots of good info everybody! Thanks!
I never see thistles in the wild right in the area I live. Lots are growing in the mountains and along hot dusty roads not far away though. So many bees, butterflies and birds seem to like them so I wonder why they are disliked, are they invasive once they get going?

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

I have never had trouble with them, but apparently some people do. I know birds love thistle seed.

Albuquerque, NM(Zone 7b)

Sometimes our decisions about what constitutes a weed follow a logic that the rest of nature does not follow. Dandelions and Clover can be quite beneficial, but the average grass owner sees it as his/her mission to eradicate them from his/her yard.

Ennis, MT(Zone 4a)

I love dandelions and my next door neighbor passionately battles them. It is probably lucky for her that at least our two driveways separate our versions of lawn. Hers is thick green grass and mine, well, mine is whatever happens while I busily grow flowers.

Littleton, CO(Zone 5a)

Oohh, good info Paj, thanks! Slowly I'm getting less cautious about all this. Yet still I tend to be very overcautious. I guess it seems easier when you know nothing just to not do it until you know one way or another. I wouldn't have ever even tried compost if it wasn't for all the people here and their high recommendations of it. I would be such a silly gardener without all the shared wisdom of seasoned gardeners like you guys.

As far as the thistles go, maybe mine aren't really thistles, because they were under that ground cover and about 10" of pea gravel for at least 10 years and still, there they were when I pulled back the cloth. Also, the ones that grow in the lawn get mowed regularly and they've done nothing but multiply. Last summer I started using herbicides painted on their leaves. It slows them down, but that's about it. I don't think I've ever let any live long enough to flower, let alone seed. Mine seem to make underground colonies and run all over the place. When I break the roots, because they just break off when you pull them, they simply came back with many more. Why I don't like thistles... First of all, I garden barefoot and walk/roll and play with the kids in the grass a lot. So I don't like them in the grass. In the flower beds, they are tenacious and squeeze everything out and they're hard to work around when they get 5'-6' high. Then there's this silly thing, I'm embarrassed to say, that I actually have a phobia of plants. I know strange huh, it makes me feel like a silly ninny and I try to ignore it. My husband didn't believe me and threw a large weed at me one day when I wasn't looking and I did actually pass out. He doesn't do that anymore. As long as they stay small and cute, I'm mostly ok. Vines are the worst, they terrify me, but I have a few slow growing ones. I make my husband deal with them or I do maintenance to them when they are dormant, or just take a deep breath and try not to think about it. I love walking through the woods and stuff, but really, my heart races the whole time. I've really tried hard to ignore it, for the most part it's just when I get "surprised" like my husband did.

The dandelions and clover I don't mind in the grass. The kids like to pick it, it's good for the soil and all that. But for some reason the HOA sees it as a cancer and insists that they not be there. So we "manicure" our front lawn. Can you believe that I actually got a notice that a neighbor reported me for having them in the back yard too? See, crazy people I have to deal with. However, they too have a tendency to start taking over and kill out the grass. So I like them there in moderation. If I was going to get rid of the lawn entirely, I would rather it was Buckwheat, or wooley thyme, or something fragrant! : ) So it's not that I "dislike" some things, so much as I have a "preference" for other things to be there. And there are also preferences to have certain parts of my yard and garden to be just so. And in other places, I'm happy to just let it do what it will.

Gastonia, NC(Zone 7b)

Oh poor you with that HOA! HOA is the cancer, IMo, not your poor weedlets! Geezum. Harrumph.

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

Hmmm. If you can photograph those "thistles" I would love to see if I can figure out what they are. Do they actually have thorns? I still believe in the cardboard method and if that doesn't work, use an old piece of wall to wall carpet and cover them for as long as it takes. That will kill them.
Did the weeds come through the landscaping fabric? Or did they just start coming up after you removed the landscaping fabric.
As for your dandelions -- too bad your HOA is so picky. On the other hand, you can at least throw them in your compost. I wouldn't get rid of the clover at all unless they make you. It provides nitrogen for your grass and saves on fertilizer.
If you are frightened by weeds, will I suspect you won't fear them anywhere near as much after you fight them for a while, but in them mean time, don't put them in your compost. You don't have to, but they are helpful.
And as for starting out knowing nothing. I pretty much did the same but not quite for the same reasons. I just read and read and talked to people. You learn a bit at a time and you learn a huge amount from experience. You are well along the way.
I am very impressed at all the design and hardscape that you have done and don't hesitate to replace as much grass as possible with thyme and veronica.

Albuquerque, NM(Zone 7b)

I just joined our HOA. I put myself down for the beautification group so that I can potentially circumvent any silliness about new rules about what you can and can't grow. Also, there is nothing written in the legal document that accompanies the sale of the house, so they really shouldn't be able to tell anyone not to grow dandelions or clover. There are rules about not keeping junk in your yard - no cars on blocks anywhere in the neighborhood.

Littleton, CO(Zone 5a)

HOA's, I haven't had too many good experiences with them. But playing devil's advocate, I think the concept can at times, maybe for certain people, be advantageous. As with all good ideas however, they are taken too far or corrupted by people. The problem I see is that they are misused by home owners and in many cases, I think they (the boards of homeowners) misuse their power (read, get on a power trip). The concept I find most flawed in them however is that they propagate the attitude that the thoughts and ideas of the masses are more appropriate and tasteful than those of the minority and those of us that just drum to a different beat. On the flip side, we as individuals, with individual thought must remember that we live in a world not made for just us and must respect that others live here and must share it with us (and that includes plants and animals)! But then, if everyone could remember that and always come to consensus, this would be a very different world. I can't really even picture it.

Ennis, MT(Zone 4a)

Ktalia, you have that right. Before she died, my mother bought a trailer house, which she hated, in a trailer park, which she also hated. To cheer her up I painted a purple frog on the trailer facing the street. It was a happy smiling frog.

The neighbors were not. They sent the park manager to tell my mother to remove it. She calmly told him she would remove it as soon as he could explain the difference between her frog and all the plastic ducks on lawns in the trailer park. He went away muttering and the frog stayed.

Thoughts and ideas of the masses usually barely hit mediocre at best.

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