Thursday, June 5, 2014

Battle of the Bull Thistle

I am no master lawnscaper. My yard gets mowed every two weeks +/-, and I have been guilty of cutting it super low so I don't have to cut it as often. The drought we have been enduring the past couple of years actually is a good thing to me--as I don;t have to mow enough.

But while mowing is not my favorite thing to do, I do like the yard to look presentable. I don;'t want to have the worse looking yard on the block, or the next to the worst. Maybe the third worse is ok though. 

Lately--this year in particular, I have had a weed cropping up all over my yard.It's spreading from the field behind me via blowing seeds. The Bull Thistle.
Just one or two of these would not be worrisome--I'd mow these suckers down and forget about them. But these are spreading like wildfire. A few weeks ago when the grass was just turning green, I'd say there were maybe 20 sprouts here and there in my back yard. AT last count, there were well over 200. It's hard to count them--like counting stars at night. You lose count. The more I counted, the more I wanted to eradicate my yard of these pests.

These particular specimens lay pretty close to the ground, and the mower sometimes misses them all together. So, I fired up my trusty weed eater and buzz-sawed these suckers down to a nub. Take that, you SOBs!

Two weeks later, they were back with a vengeance.

Besides looking bad, the spiny thorns make barefoot walking a dangerous activity. 
I tried pulling one of these plants and believe me--these spikes feel not so good. I am certain that once these spikes have pierced your skin, a microscopic enzyme is injected which causes a gradual mutation into a Jeff Goldblum version of a fly creature.

After some research (God bless you, Google), I found that these plants are biennials. They have a two year cycle. The first year, they are in the crab-like state as pictured above. After the second year, they grow into stalks, forming buds and a strikingly attractive magenta flower. These suckers have been trespassing for two years now.
This is where the seeds are, and they are spread by wind, birds, and when someone (like me) walks by they shoot poison darts. I had a few of these lethal dart launching plants in my yard (even in my front yard now!) It was time for me to step things up. This was getting personal.

Lowe's to the rescue. I browsed the lawn and garden section for the best yet cheapest spray to massacre this tribe of man eating plants. I settles on a 1.33 gallon jug of Round-Up which was designed for problem weeds, and poison ivy. Bonus! It came with an adjustable wand which touted a 10 minute spray time. I was in business!!

I started in the front yard and sprayed unmercifully every one of these noxious nuisances, being careful to get every drop right down the plant's throat. They seemed to soak it up like they enjoyed it. I listed closely for coughing/choking sounds, but heard none. After 10 minutes, my arm was about to fall off from lugging around what seemed like a 50 gallon jug of  pesticide.

Halfway through my back yard, the jug started getting lighter, and poof--I was out of the juice. Well, I was bummed about having to spend another 29.95 + tax for another jug, so I returned to Google. Maybe I could find another remedy. One suggestion was to dig the plants up. Hmmm--digging 500 holes in my back yard seemed like a lot of work. Other places said using Round-Up was bad for the environment--go figure! Then I read a comment o=n a plant forum which said "Spray 'em with gasoline--that'll kill them quick and it's cheap." Hmmm.

SO, I suppose I should be ashamed to say, that the remainder of the pesky plants--both the first year ones and the dart shooting seed bearing second year ones are now black, crumpled, and dead. Now let's hope they don't mutate and engulf my house!!

One site on Google had this to say:
Bull thistle root can be eaten and is best used when mixed with other vegetables. Young flower stems can be cooked and young leaves can be eaten in a salad or tossed into a sauté. The taste is somewhat bland but the prickles MUST BE removed from the leaves before the leaves can be eaten! (Ya think??) 
Finally, if the EPA shows up on my door, I'll politely deny all of the above, delete thispost, and offer them a nice salad (without the prickles removed!!) 

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