Hello. We have recently taken over an allotment which is overrun with 'Mares Tail'. Any solutions? To hoe or to pull? We don't want to use chemicals as we are growing food crops in between the weeds...
I have mares tail on my allotment, in the winter when I am digging over the ground I try and get as much of the roots out as possible, the ones that come through I then try to hand weed and pull out as much as possible.
After a couple of seasons it should lessen to the point where its no more a problem than any other weed. The chemical route is probably the most effective but I only use this on bare plots, once I am growing crops I steer clear of weedkillers.
It all depends how much time you can spend weeding to keep a cap on it.
I have done similar to Scroggin, I don't have an allotment but my veg patch in the garden was covered when we moved in 4 years ago. Now it's at a stage where I just pull it up as and when I see it to keep on top of it and although still a pain in the rear, it is manageable (although I'm dreading being away for a week in August!!)
Unfortunately the roots go very deep so we will never be totally rid of it, but we can just do our best for our own circumstances. When you are digging it up try and get as many roots as possible.
Welcome to the forum by the way and good luck with the allotment.
One thing I meant to add was DONT use a rotovator, it will chop up the roots and you will then have 10 times the trouble you had before. The same goes for couch grass.
I agree with both scroggin and orchid lady, just keep on pulling up as much of it as you can. The worst thing I find, is that it comes from our neighbours garden and as they cannot see the large amount of mares tail in their garden ( it is hidden from their view by an outbuilding) it doesn't seem to bother them, so they don't weed this area. There is not much I can do about this but it is really annoying!!
Mares tail was introduced to 'bind' railway embankments etc., due to their straggling root system. We live next door to a railway and have found the most effective way to deal with it is to keep pulling it up. When the soil is damp a long , firm pull will bring up a length of root - don't yank it !
A totally natural method is ..... invest in geese! They love it. We looked after some goslings for a week and they cleared the weed, unfortunately they didn't get down to roots, but did weaken the plants.