Monday, October 08, 2007

Weed of the Week - Bindweed

Bindweed is evil. If ginger beer plants are proof of the existence of God, bindweed is proof of the devil. The roots can penetrate 15 feet (5 metres) underground. The stems can grow several inches in a day. The seeds can lie dormant in the soil for 30 years before germinating. And it binds around everything really tightly, choking your precious plants, and making it very tricky to unravel and remove. Evil, evil weed.

I'm trying the "keep chopping its head off and sooner or later it will give up" approach, but I have to admit I'm not winning. I'm tempted to go the Roundup route - but if I do, I won't spray it everywhere. I've heard that you should gather up as much of the bindweed as you can and stuff it into a thick plastic bag, like a builder's rubble bag or a large bucket with a lid, then spray the Roundup into the bag or bucket. That way, the weedkiller only goes on the plant you want to kill, not everywhere else. You also get enough weedkiller onto the plant to kill it if you do it this way. A single bindweed specimen can be quite large, and just because you zap one stem, you might not apply enough poison to kill the whole thing. Even so it may take more than one application. Anyway, I haven't used any weedkiller on the allotment at all, I'm just tempted to by the bindweed.

I've read that it has some medicinal uses. It certainly raises blood-pressure in gardeners, so if you're suffering from hypotension it could be useful I suppose. The long stems can be woven together and made into a ligature to throttle neighbouring gardeners who tolerate the damn stuff and allow it to invade your plot. You can put it in weed tea. You can put anything in weed tea, it all rots so it's perfectly safe. But don't put bindweed on your compost heap. It will just grow there, and mock you.

Bindweed - it's evil. Can anyone defend it?

21 comments:

Clare said...

Nope, no defence. It's evil, horrible, soul-sapping stuff. You can do that brilliant flower-popping thing with it (can't describe, would have to demonstrate) which looks pretty good and is fun for about 5 minutes, but in no way mitigates the relentless awfulness of the bloody stuff.

She Who Digs said...

Hi Mel,
I've had success using the plastic bag method to kill the bindweed with Glyphosate. It's easier to attack when it's young, other wise it's so tedious trying to unravel it from the branches of the hedge, without it breaking off. It’s really a year on year ongoing chore- one I hate, but if left it will just take over, as you know! SWD

Multiveg said...

I do love flower-popping them!
Weed tea sounds good but smells revolting. If the roots go that deep, then they should be bringing up nutrients, like comfrey. Waste not want not!

Anonymous said...

I would defend the beautiful white bells it produces and the greenery that can be eaten by tortoises. The flowers attract insects to the garden which in turn provide birds with food.

GreenStyleMom said...

I have been fighting bindweed all summer in my garden plot. I did spray some Roundup on the sprigs in my xeriscaped yard just to get them under control, but I won't do it in my veggie garden. I've heard that pulling it stimulates the roots. My neighbor tried covering her bindweed as a way to control it, but it just grew out the edges of the rather large covering.

Artela said...

I will jump to its defence. The cultivated varieties produce beautiful flowers, and without the wild version there would have been no cultivars.

Wulf said...

You can defeat bindweed over the course of time by carefully digging it out where you find it and taking care not to dispose of any part of the plant in your compost.

However, this war of attrition is made much more difficult if there is a neighbouring plot where it is allowed to run rampant. Don't allotments have rules about that kind of thing?

Frankie @ Veg Plot said...

I did eradicate it organically in my last garden by digging up the roots - it took a couple of years and I was obsessive...

I did see a tv show where a gardener put bamboo canes at the base of the plant in order for the bindweed to climb up. She then donned rubber gloves and smeared a glyphosate gel all over the weed. As the weed was all concentrated on the cane it was easy to apply. This killed the bindweed without spraying the surrounding plants . If you do use chemicals, this method looks effective.

Good Luck!

Nikki said...

Urgh, convulvulus as it's referred to here instead of a common name. It's the single thing I'm trying constantly tugging out of my garden beds. Apparently if you haven't started a garden yet you can lay and old carpet face down on it and leave it for 9mths or so to grow into it and then pull up the carpet, put all the weed into black polythene bags for it to rot down.

Woody Wilbury said...

No easy way to get rid of the stuff, and you just have to keep at it cos the tiniest bit will reinfest you. I've smothered it quite well with old carpet and Roundup'd it and it still cometh back. I fear it is like the poor, always with us.

Jenna said...

Don't know if this is possible in an allotment, but in cases for bindweed and the (pervasive here in the states) equally evil kudzu -known to cover slow moving cattle - my family has beaten it back by judicious application of fire. A few moments a day with a small propane torch and after a week its usually beaten to the point of slow return (a once a year session seems to help keep it at bay.) Not only does this keep the poison out of the garden, you get the benefit of the ash to the soil. And no, it doesn't grow back after ashing.

Or... in the case of my da, skip the tiny torch and break out the flamethrower!

Stonehead said...

Bindweed makes good, short-term garden twine (ie one season). I've used it for tying soft fruit canes into place and also for supporting broad beans.

It's also very effective at turning clothes green - you should see our boys when they've been helping pull it up!

I also have to agree with Jenna - a weed torch or similar is the easiest, non-chemical way to attack it. You do need to be systematic in burning out the stems, though, and not miss any.

RUTH said...

We had bindweed when we first started the garden and used the chop it off and crowd it out theory...leaving no room for it to grow. It took a lot of years though! If you do use weed killers allow it to grow up a stake...that keeps it in one place to apply the weedkiller. GOOD LUCK (my other pet hate is my neighbours russian vine)

Melanie Rimmer said...

I'm liking this idea. Zorching the buggers is also the funnest way to get rid of weeds. Is it cruel to use it on slugs, too?

Woody Wilbury said...

Much as I hate slugs, yes it is cruel. It's like boiling lobsters!

Interesting though that bindweed has generated so many posts; clearly a problem for many many people!

Wimblejigs said...

I too suffer from bindweed. Thank god it's lesser bindweed according to mum, who of course knows everything. Our approach has been to dig out as much root as possible in the autumn and chuck into household waste at the recycling centre. And I'm sure it was better than it would otherwise have been. A plot down the way from us rotavated their plot, and had lots and lots and lots and lots of teeny tiny bindweed plants about a week after...

Anonymous said...

Bernard
Need some medical uses for it.

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Pinksome said...

So... did you win? Did you use Gysophate on the evils?? I am at the beginning of a "lop it off at the base every day for a million years" approach to eradication. I fear it's a lost cause, tho' - as my neighbours are happy enough about it growing on the other side of the fence...

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