This year we suddenly (or maybe I just noticed it) have a
lot of bindweed in our asparagus field. What's a good organic
solution to this out-of-control problem?
Bear Creek Farms
Thanks for the email. Bindweed is one of those extremely
difficult weeds to manage in any cropping system, but in asparagus
it's even worse. Here on our farm we have patches of bindweed
that we try to manage through diverse crop rotations. That's
in grain fields or row-crop vegetables. We can use hay in
our rotation and tillage to help keep it in check. Of course,
none of those things will work in asparagus. It's one of those
crops that the more you cultivate it the more you spread it
around and ultimately the better it likes it. About the only
advice I can give you is to try flame weeding. If you can
remove the top growth long enough, the roots will eventually
die. This will not be a quick fix, but over time it will work.
I have no idea how much land you have in asparagus or how
large the patches of bindweed are, but you could achieve the
same result by hand pulling everything you see and staying
after it (but if the areas are too large, that just isn't
practical). Some folks have worked with black plastic mulches
to try and kill it as well.
If you start new beds, be sure to go into areas clean of
perennial weeds and, from the beginning, keep it that way.
I know I haven't given you a magic pill or solution, but I
don't think there is one.
If you need more information on flame weeders, there are
several companies out there; Red Dragon is one. They have
a Web site (www.flameengineering.com)that
might give you some ideas. Several companies also make small
handheld equipment for small areas.
Keep me posted on how you make out.
Have some questions to Ask Jeff? E-mail
him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.