Monday, 26 November 2012

Getting rid of the hedge bindweed.


Hedge bind weed is a particularly pernicious weed which can spread great distances with very tenacious stolons,  rhizomes and almost any other part of the plant that it sees fit to use.  I have decided that if I ever have to teach plant propagation, I will use this plant to demonstrate that you can use absolutely any part of it to generate new clone plants.  This is why I am spending so much time removing it from the new allotment. Even tiny pieces of rhizome can regenerate to make a new plant. A lot of the allotment is clear of it but you cannot be certain so I am sieving all of the soil to at least two spits down.  The rhizomes are white and cylindrical and the growing ends can have a purple tinge.  The stems can be stoleniferous making new roots when they touch the ground.
Calystegia sepium stolons 
With all the dead tops and rhizomy stolons from the hedge bindweed over the top of the soil it does not look very tidy.  However, it looks much more presentable when it has been dug over.

The only way that I can ensure that all of the rhizomes are removed from the soil is to sieve soil through the bread tray sieve.

Calystegia sepium stolons being sieved out of the top soil.
I must admit that the rhizomes are growing in the top 30 cm of soil and I am finding very few lower than this. I was skeptical when others said this would be so but it does seem to be true.  However, I cannot be sure so I am going down two spits and checking.  When rhizomes have been buried up to 60 cm deep, some have regenerated.  The rhyzomes seem to throw  up weakened plants that are easily hoed out but the fact that they do regenerate from this depth and there is a need for constant vigilance means that I am very reluctant to bury the rhizomes without being sure that they are thoroughly dried out. Too much nutrient locked up in these rhyzomes for them to be thrown away so I am carefully drying them out ready to bury in the trench. 
Calystegia sepium rhizomes can be seen in the clod of soil.
Once the soil is sieved, it produces this lovely loamy mix.  I am not stupid enough to believe that I have removed all the bindweed but I have taken out a substantial amount and the soil is much cleaner now.  As you can see I have an elaborate method of sieving using four tubs and two planks to raise the bread tray sieve off the ground.  Even with the large holes in the sieve, the sieved soil breaks down and becomes very friable and easy to work.

There is a plum tree in the background -  you can just see the trunk.  I am trying some forest gardening with this tree creating a glade using comfrey, gooseberry and blackberry plants.  They are forming concentric semi circles around the tree.  The comfrey is on the inside and the fruit bushes are around the drip line of the plum.
It means that the ground under the plum tree is used for planting even though it is shady.  The comfrey can be cut in situ and left on the ground as a mulch for the plum and the fruit bushes.  I have planted both the comfrey and the gooseberries with mychorrhizal fungi. When this trench is filled again I will be planting the blackcurrant cuttings.
Calystegia sepium rhizomes
This is what I have sieved out at the moment but there is a great deal more in the soil.  I am drying these out on some old carpet I found on the new allotment.  Eventually I hope to bury these in one of the triple digging trenches.  I will have to make sure that they have dried completely otherwise, as I have already said,  they will spring to life again and grow even at a triple dug depth.  They are packed with plant nutrient so I am loth to bag it up and dispose of it elsewhere.  Burning it means that some of  the nutrients go into the air as gaseous oxides and are blown away onto someone else's garden.  I would rather keep the nutrients on the allotment even though burying these rhizomes may cause them to spring back into life.  I have read that they need to be dried for two days before burying but these have been drying for a week or more and they still seem to be full of life.  I will not bury them until I am sure they are dry and that might take some time with the very wet weather we have been having.  The cold damp autumn has meant that the ground - and everything else - is thoroughly saturated with water.

The only things that I want to remove from the allotment are the vegetables that I am going to eat.  Even the peelings are brought back and put onto the compost heap to be dug back into the soil.  In this way nutrients are locked into the cycle of vegetable, compost heap and soil.  Very little nutrient is lost and that which is can easily be replaced using imported animal manures, leaves, wood chip, comfrey, green manure and shreddings.

Aporrectidea rosea
This is an irritating worm because I keep mistaking it for bindweed rhizomes.  It seems to be a very light form of Aporrectidea rosea because the pictures that I have seen give it a much more redder hue.

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