Saturday, 23 May 2015

Not All Weeds are Weedy

This one certainly isn't - Horsetail (Equisetum arvense). It's an interesting plant which has been around since prehistoric times and will likely be around on Plot 3 (our new one) forever! It grows through spores from cone-like tips, earlier in the season, and through its creeping roots (rhizomes) now.
You can see that the blue-black stem looks dead but left in the ground a shoot will soon appear ...
...followed by green growth. The resultant fairy forests really are very pretty, but not in the middle of our vegetable plot. The weed has ~2m deep roots and pulls nutrients from deep down in the earth, so doesn't actually cause a whole lot of problems to other plant growth ( this space).
The 'leaves' break into sections. These leaves are silica-rich and can be used for strenghthening your nails and hair and stopping bleeding. All this information may be tested at some point...though probably not through ingestion (at least not by me!). More likely It's used in Japan for polishing wood and metal - I did use it once to polish stainless steel - but I think the vinegar and bicarb were doing most of the work!
We got about 2 bags of weed and roots out of that area and then dug a couple of barrows of manure in. That should encourage the worms to do their bit and then we're going to plant some broad beans on that part of the plot.
We found a lot of these tubers - they look rather like oca. I think they belong to a weed, but not sure what sort. It looks like forget-me-not but I don't remember the roots looking like that.


  1. We are fortunate not to have marestail ir horsetail. I guess there us a reason that it dates back into prehistory. Our bete noire of the weed world is bindweed.

    1. We have bindweed, but only small tufts that we are able to keep under the moment

  2. Although horsetail spreads in nature by spores it must be very rare for it to establish in a cultivated garden from spores.
    As you show, if its deep roots are endemic it is a devil of a job to eliminate

    1. The other side of our hedge has a bank down to the canal. The bank is covered in horsetail. We can almost watch it working its way up the site ๐Ÿ˜Ÿ. Control rather than elimination has to be the plan I think


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