As I’ve mentioned several times before, my home sits on a piece of property that was once used for tobacco farming. Tobacco farming essentially destroys the soil. Tobacco is a very heavy feeder and needs lots of fertilizer and pesticides to keep it going. So, the soil on our property, except in one area that was wooded and never cultivated, is basically dead. When we dig a new garden we rarely find an earthworm.
Red sorrel, also called sheep’s sorrel, is a native plant, i.e., weed, that is well known for establishing itself in poor, acid soils. So you see, we have exactly the right conditions for this nasty weed. This weed is edible, and it’s well behaved cousin French Sorrel has even been a part of my herb garden, but you can have too much of a good thing, especially when it starts to choke out other plants.
The problem with sorrel is that it spreads by rhizomes under the soil (think bermuda or crab grass). It wouldn’t be as much of a problem if the roots were as thick as the rhizomenous grasses, but they aren’t. Most are barely thicker that a piece of thread. However, leave even a tiny piece of it behind and you have another plant started right where the other one left off.
In the meadow part of the yard this isn’t a problem, but, unfortunately, because I got behind on my weeding the sorrel has invaded flower gardens, the berries and grapes, and worst of all, a couple of the vegetable beds. My husband blithely says that all you have to do is mulch a little bit and it will be taken care of. Well this stuff comes up right through both the cardboard and the store-bought mulch I’ve tried.
The only method I’ve found for keeping it at bay is to never let it get a foothold. I now have to painstakingly dig out every tiny bit of root that I can get out and then repeat that for the next several months on a weekly basis and finally about the end of the season I’ll be able to keep it at bay.
I’m going to be looking into some organic weed killers to see if I can use them around the perimeter of my gardens, and if they’ll kill sorrel. If they will I’m actually going to give it a try. I’ll just treat about one foot around all the gardens, just so my plants are not having to compete so much for water, fertilizer, and sun. The rest we can easily keep mowed down. I just need to know if it will kill the root and not just the top leaves, otherwise it’ll be a waste of money and time.
I’ll let you know how things turn out.
If anyone has had any luck getting rid of this nasty stuff PLEASE share the info below. I’ve got to find a solution as it’s starting to come up in the area where the greenhouse is supposed to be!
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