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Living with ground elder - does it strangle plants roots?

(9 Posts)
charlotteswigwam Tue 04-Apr-17 20:38:58

Sooo... we had a big infestation of ground elder. I weeded it all out last weekend and dug up the roots and sifted through the soil repeatedly for any root fragments, but realistically I am expecting it to come back because I am sure I missed some root fragments (and could only dig about a foot down until I hit really heavy clay and rock so did not dig/sift that bit out very effectively, There could easily be some ground elder roots hiding there. I knew w the proper thing to do is cover the whole area in black plastic and leave it for a year but I wanted to grow veg this year (for very good reasons of my own) So I put in the raised beds I'd already built and mixed in some extra soil and planted my seedlings thinking I'll just weed any ground elder incursions out. BUT then I read that ground elder can wrap around another plants roots and effectively strangle it. Would it be able to do this before showing its head above ground (as soon as I see any it's getting pulled out) has anyone managed to successfully grow things whilst managing a ground elder problem.
I know in hindsight I should have made taller raised beds and seperated them of from the ground with root membranes but I didn't....

bilbodog Tue 04-Apr-17 21:49:12

Ive not had to deal with it amongst vegetables and not heard that it wraps itself around roots but i suppose it might with seedlings. Ive only managed to get a grip on it by zapping the baby leaves as they appear but you probably dont want to do that with veg nearby! I understand that bob flowerdew eats ground elder leaves like salad so you could try that.

Mermaidinthesea123 Tue 04-Apr-17 21:52:16

I don't think so, I've had it for several years now and just hoe it out when I see it. It hasn't caused any problems with my other plants.

SeaRabbit Wed 05-Apr-17 08:22:11

Get yourself roundup gel and paint it on the new leaves when they (inevitably) come through. The plants will die at the roots so you'll get rid of it. Your veg will be ok as long as you don't paint them.

shovetheholly Wed 05-Apr-17 08:37:12

You've made a great start! The thing is, the roots store the plant's energy, but the leaves are still needed for it really to get going - and since you've cleared most, if not all, of the roots then there's no reason to think that they will have the energy to come back and strangle things under the surface while nothing appears on top!

Your job now is constant vigilance! Just keep an eye out, and pounce on any stalks that appear and your beds will be fine. You can eat it (it's not entirely unpleasant either), so think of stray shoots as an unwanted crop!

charlotteswigwam Wed 05-Apr-17 22:52:45

Thanks! That is pretty much what I wanted to hear! Shove the holly- I planned to do what you describe, but then grew anxious that my plants would be destroyed before I saw the weeds. And sea rabbit - good to know I can use roundup near the veg, but my main concern there is the really friendly bumblebees that hang around my garden. Apparently glyphosate can hurt them, so will keep that back unless I become really desperate

charlotteswigwam Wed 05-Apr-17 22:54:02

Ohhh, and I was intrigued by the idea of eating it - but apparently it can have a laxative effect so will proceed with caution...

shovetheholly Thu 06-Apr-17 07:13:51

smile I have a really good feeling you're going to win this war!

Thing is, the leaves of a plant are like a factory making more energy, and the roots of elder are like an energy store. If you leap on them and destroy the leaves whenever they appear, then the plant can't store any energy, and has to keep using up what it has stored trying to re-grow. In the end, it will get too weak to do that, and will perish. (The exception is where you have something coming through from another garden or area outside of your own space - here, you can only really keep on top of its presence in your own garden).

BarchesterFlowers Thu 06-Apr-17 07:18:42

My old house was in woodland and I just could not eradicate it but I grow a lot and managed ..... unlike my neighbour who used a rotovator which helped it enormously grin.

I used to feel triumphant when I got a really long runner out.

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