Sunday, June 15, 2008

Thistle While You Work

You can’t let a single one live. If you let one live, it will feed the source and you’ll never be free. I’m talking about total, complete destruction. No matter how cute those babies are, how much you empathize with their struggle to survive, they won’t love you back. They only exist to destroy you, so in a Mano-a-Mano struggle, you’ve got to harden yourself. No mercy, baby.
And if you think you can kill them easily, you haven’t tried. They’re sneaky, wily, and when you’re done, you’ll swear they can move faster then a two year old headed for the ice cream truck. You’ve got to adopt a Zero Tolerance policy and you’ve got to devote 3 full weeks, no vacations, no days-off for good behavior, to the blood bath. If you’ve been infested already, you have to work hard at annihilation. I’ll tell you how I’m doing it, not because I care so much about your yard, but because I want to eradicate the stupid things. If everyone eliminated the thistles in their own yard, I wouldn’t have to worry so much about repeat infestations.
First, order large quantities of your favorite toxic chemical. 20% vinegar does the trick, but the whole area will smell like a pickle factory when you’re done. Industrial strength Round-up works, too, without the smell, but it will kill larger areas of grass. Whatever you choose, go outside in the heat of the day. The roots are more receptive to your noxious liquid during the hot part of the day—usually around 3:00 PM. Spray it everywhere a thistle has cropped up. Or where you think one might be growing. Or where one has grown in the past. You’ll end up spraying there anyway, and you might as well get a jump on things by spraying it now.
When you’ve done the first round, go inside, congratulate yourself, drink some ice water and wait 10 minutes. Go outside. Notice that you missed a bunch. Spray again. Repeat congratulations. Wait 10 minutes. See the cycle? It won’t take you long to realize that you haven’t missed them—the roots have sent up new runners. You’ve got to hand it to evolution: she created a masterpiece when she came up with the thistle. Fortunately for you, Mother Nature has a larger swath of ground to cover, so if you’re lucky and if you send enough money to your favorite Green Earth charities, you may just get rid of them before she turns her attention back to your yard. But don’t count on it.
I keep repeating to myself that at least the thistles aren’t giant tree roaches. Or fire ants. And at least the grass surrounding the thistles resembles the ground cover that most people would recognize as grass, unlike the St. Augustines that we put up with in our last abode. But all of that didn’t help 2 weeks ago when I had a mini-breakdown after researching thistles. It seems that most websites recommend placing large quantities of mulch or a black tarp over the entire area. For 2 years. Yah, that doesn’t work so well with my whole notion of “barefoot in the grass” experiences for my children. On the other hand, I’ve never heard of mowing a tarp, so there could be benefits. And, after all, I’ve got to provide fodder for my children’s therapy. “My mother wouldn’t even let us have grass! She was so hard-line…”


The Stevens said...

I had a few thistles last year and I just dug them up with a shovel and only had a few regrowths, which had the same fate with the shovel. This year they took over my whole tulip garden! UG!! I am glad to know about the vinegar, cause it was going to take me a week to shovel them out. Spraying seems like a much better alternative.

Big Bahama Mama said...

Not to be a gardening dork, but the reason they grow back is because they have deep root systems--6 inches or more--that can survive for long periods of time without any sunlight intake from the leaves. These root systems send out millions (in my yard) of new shoots. And now you know everything I know about thistles.

Anonymous said...

How to kill pests without killing yourself or the earth......

There are about 50 to 60 million insect species on earth - we have named only about 1 million and there are only about 1 thousand pest species - already over 50% of these thousand pests are already resistant to our volatile, dangerous, synthetic pesticide POISONS. We accidentally lose about 25,000 to 100,000 species of insects, plants and animals every year due to "man's footprint". But, after poisoning the entire world and contaminating every living thing for over 60 years with these dangerous and ineffective pesticide POISONS we have not even controlled much less eliminated even one pest species and every year we use/misuse more and more pesticide POISONS to try to "keep up"! Even with all of this expensive and unnecessary pollution - we lose more and more crops and lives to these thousand pests every year.

We are losing the war against these thousand pests mainly because we insist on using only synthetic pesticide POISONS and fertilizers There has been a severe "knowledge drought" - a worldwide decline in agricultural R&D, especially in production research and safe, more effective pest control since the advent of synthetic pesticide POISONS and fertilizers. Today we are like lemmings running to the sea insisting that is the "right way". The greatest challenge facing humanity this century is the necessity for us to double our global food production with less land, less water, less nutrients, less science, frequent droughts, more and more contamination and ever-increasing pest damage.

National Poison Prevention Week, March 18-24,2007 was created to highlight the dangers of poisoning and how to prevent it. One study shows that about 70,000 children in the USA were involved in common household pesticide-related (acute) poisonings or exposures in 2004. At least two peer-reviewed studies have described associations between autism rates and pesticides (D'Amelio et al 2005; Roberts EM et al 2007 in EHP). It is estimated that 300,000 farm workers suffer acute pesticide poisoning each year just in the United States - No one is checking chronic contamination.
In order to try to help "stem the tide", I have just finished re-writing my IPM encyclopedia entitled: THE BEST CONTROL II, that contains over 2,800 safe and far more effective alternatives to pesticide POISONS. This latest copyrighted work is about 1,800 pages in length and is now being updated at my new website at .

This new website at has been basically updated; all we have left to update is Chapter 39 and to renumber the pages. All of these copyrighted items are free for you to read and/or download. There is simply no need to POISON yourself or your family or to have any pest problems.

Stephen L. Tvedten
2530 Hayes Street
Marne, Michigan 49435
When a man who is honestly mistaken hears the truth, he will either quit being mistaken or cease to be honest.

halsadick said...

I think Stephen is trying to tell you something, but I can't quite put my finger on it.

Big Bahama Mama said...

Mr. Stephen, who has no idea the lengths I travel to garden organically, has missed one basic point. I don't give a rat's patootie for his opinion. I garden to produce things I want to eat. Thistles don't fall in that category. Having tried all the organic ways I can, including getting my tender hands bloody from pulling them--with leather gloves--I have moved to heavier stuff. And, according to a wise and virtuous friend, Roundup is basically a salt solution. Wouldn't want to add it to my organic tea, but other than that, not the heavy-duty stuff farmers need to use in order to keep back the weeds. So, Mr. Stephen, thanks for trying but only people who agree with me are allowed to comment on my blog. Oh, and Eggland's Best, because they still owe me a coupon for the free bit o' publicity I gave them.