I bought a house last winter. It has a good size garden in the back which I wanted to plant up. A few weeks ago I went out and dug out a bunch of the weeds pictured below. I dug as deep as possible to get as much of the roots as I could.

The weather started turning cold again, so I waited to plant. The garden is now full of this weed again. What is it and what can I use to kill it? I don't want to affect the growth of the vegetables I hope to plant in the next week or so.

If it helps, I am in Ohio.

Click on pictures for full size.

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    If the thistle identification is correct, then you might be interested to know that you can eat it (if you're in the market for exotic vegetables). I imagine cooking or blending it up might help with the sharp stuff. Nov 5, 2014 at 19:50
  • You pull one thistle plant, and many weaker ones sprout. Keep at it until the energy is exhausted. Maybe brush paint the leaves with a weed killer.
    – Evil Elf
    Mar 10, 2016 at 13:42

2 Answers 2


It's thistles. You're probably doing the right thing - just keep at it. This time of year, weeds can seem unbeatable.

The main thing is to loosen the soil out about a foot from a big thistle, with a gardening fork or similar. Then try to get all the roots in one go with a spade, or by pulling. With little ones that regrew from little roots you missed, you don't have to go out so far.

  • You can also find weeding tools like this one that let you get down below the roots and pop the weed out. You can find larger versions as well that let you do all the weeding standing up.
    – Doresoom
    May 3, 2012 at 15:15
  • @EdStaub Feel free to let us know what kind of thistle it is, if you know. Nov 5, 2014 at 19:49

Some thistle produces artichokes, a fairly costly treat, with a flavor and consistency that is, by my palate, worth the expense. If you can get an artichoke thistle (Cynara scolymus) to thrive in Ohio, by all means keep it. The down side is that your plant, at this stage may be indistinguishable from star thistle (Cynara cardunculus), which has an edible stalk. Problem arise because Yellow star thistle is monsterously invasive.

It came to Northern California uplands in the late '60's & early '70's, when the timber and cannabis industries used river silts to build a base (road bed) for freshly cut roads Within two years the thistle was too thick to traverse the land a quarter mile to each side of the effected roads.

Point is to watch the flower development; if it's yellow, great care must be taken to avoid unwanted propagation.

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