Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Canadian thistles - a pain in my garden

Warning - blog under construction. These are not the final colors - playing with layout and templates.

A thistle hiding in the grass.
When I was a kid on the farm, my brothers and I mowed the lawn every week, but other than that, didn't think much of lawn care. That is to say, dandelions and other weeds were allowed to grow as they liked.  This meant of course, that walking barefoot in the summer grass required careful observation to avoid yelling out the childhood expletive “THISTLE!” after trodding on one of the thorny plants that hiding in the long grass.

The other day I was listening to garden talk on Wisconsin Public radio with host Larry Meiller and guest Neil Diboll from Prairie Nursery in Westfield, Wis. 

They were discussing some of the early weeds that appear in people's gardens, and Neil mentioned the thistle. I'm not sure which species they were talking about, but I was impressed when he said that it could punch through just about anything. In fact, Neil shared a story about driving over a three-inch bed of newly-laid asphalt and seeing thistle plants poking up through it.
This garden bed was heavily mulched with hay, and no other weeds could be seen but for this lonely thistle.
A few weeks ago, a bunch of American Family community gardeners flattened a bunch of cardboard and covered it with inches of wood mulch. It now comes as no surprise that despite our efforts, thistles are poking through. These will need to be dug out by hand.

This thistle worked it's way through a cardboard barrier and wood mulch. The garden's plot and path monitors have their work cut out for them.


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