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Prehistoric Weed


My wife and I took over quite a large allotment in April of this year, which need a considerable amount of preparation work before planting.

The allotment site has a history of having a considerable amount of a weed commonly known as 'Mares Tail', which is prehistoric in age and the routes can go down to a considerable depth.

We are currently digging over our plot, which is split up into 4 Nr. 4.5M x 4.5M areas with pathway in a cross form between each section.

As we are digging we are pulling out the weeds to try and eradicate the problem.

Is there a known weed killer for this weed? OR Is a case of just managing the plot and keep removing the weed when digging over?

Thank you


  • Hi,

    Having taken over an allotment we have inherited a good number of Raspberry Plants and are unsure of their age.

    Whilst we have had a good crop off the plants we are unsure as to what to do to prepare the existing OLD and NEWLY formed plants for winter.

    Can you advise.

    Thank you

  • The user and all related content has been deleted.
  • KT53KT53 Posts: 7,717

    There is a weedkiller called Kurtail which some people claim to have had a degree of success with.  It's not cheap and I haven't used it, but if it does the job it would be worth considering.

  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 28,800

    The roots of this thing go metres deep and are brittle so break easily and each bit can become a plant.

    Digging over once, and thoroughly, will certainly help you remove major weed roots but, if you plan to be chemical free, the best course of action is simply to keep pulling it up or hoeing it off as you see it.   Do not compost it as it will propagate in the heap but you can make a fertiliser from it by soaking in a covered bucket of water for a few weeks and then diluting the resulting pongy liquid to feed plants.

    In future, you should be able to do it without digging as it's better for soil structure and the friendly micro-organisms.  In autumn, cover bare spoil with sheets of cardboard or even thick layers of newspaper and hold this down with layers of well rotted manure and compost.   Where you have permanent plants such as fruiting shrubs, mulch generously.   The worms will work all this into the soil over winter and you will end up with a good texture for working, weeding and planting and happy plants feeding on fertile soil and able to get their roots down for moisture.

    Raspberries come in two group - early and late fruiting.  The former fruits on new stems produced the previous year and it sounds like you have those.  Remove all the old, fruited stems at the base and then tie in the new ones to supports.  Remove any excess or unruly plants.   The late fruiting varieties can be cut back hard to about 9" in spring and will then grow new stems which fruit later in summer and early autumn.

    The RHS offers this advice - 

    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Fortunately I've never (fingers crossed) had to deal with Mares Tail, but I have done a lot of reading about it.

    It seems that it really enjoys the conditions which occur when it's covered with weed control fabric, old carpet, cardboard, concrete and tarmac, so I suggest that you don't do any of these things.

    I've also heard that it doesn't like limey soil, and certainly where we live has very chalky soil and we don't have any Mares Tail.  You may want to try liming part of your allotment and see if that makes a difference.

    Good luck image

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 28,800

    Dove - I had alkaline loam soil and a bit of neutral clay at the fornt and that's where I had all the mares' tail stuff.   My gardening guru friend swore by cardboard for soil conditioning and weed weakening tho I never tried it on this weed as it was in the ornamental beds which were full of plants.   

    However, one of the two beds worst affected did have weed membrane on it through which I planted a range of ornamental grasses, hostas, herbaceous clems and a mix or perennials.  They loved it so much I had to remove the membrane to dig them up and divide and re-plant.   Only after I'd done all that and planted roses and clems and hardy geraniums did the mares' tail start appearing.  I think it was in the clay soil which was imported from the next village.

    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Paul B3Paul B3 Posts: 3,008

    Agrigem LTD can supply an effective weedkiller for this problem called Pearl ; expensive but apparently works !

  • l had this problem.  An old gardener told me that the roots can go down 6 feet.  When the mares tails come up between plants, i put loo rolls over them and spray into them with Round-up, which does kill them, but the best way to reduce them l found was to put garden lime over the whole bed.  They don't seem to like limey soil.

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 50,143

    A lot more than six feet unfortunately Gillian image

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
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