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I have an allotment in England where I grow vegetables and fruit. One of the biggest problems I am having with it (other than the soil desperately needing fertilising) is the bindweed infestation.

By Anneli Salo (Own work (Own photo)) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

I have tried all sorts to get rid of it. I have tried digging the roots out by hand, but I have 150 sqr meters of ground to dig through & I have read that the roots can penetrate to a depth of 5m.

I have tried training it up bamboo away from my crops and spraying it with Glyphosate based weed killers.

All to no avail, it seems to come back within only a matter of a week or two.

I've looked around the internet for more answers, but can't seem to come up with anything.

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Ooh, dear, sorry AvieRose, that's because there isn't a once and for all solution. Bindweed is practically impossible to eradicate, as you've discovered, so all you can hope for is to keep it in check. In light soils, it's often possible to extract the bulk of any root material when the area is unplanted, but in clay or heavy soils, it's much harder because, as you probably know, it will regrow from a piece of root no more than a quarter of an inch in size. I usually do what you did, insert canes and let it climb up that, then spray with glyphosate, and periodically, when revamping an area, attempt to extract as much of the root as is possible.

  • Yes, I'm beginning to think thats the case. My soil is very heavy clay at the moment, I'm trying to break it up and add in some more nutritious soil but its a long old slogg! – AvieRose Feb 13 '13 at 18:03
  • To add onto this, be most vigilant in your glysophate (RoundUp) spraying in the fall. This is when your Bindweed is pulling in the most nutrients for winter survival and will soak up the most poison. – UtahJarhead Sep 17 '13 at 16:50
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Some years ago I apparently eradicated bindweed from a small (15 x 7 feet) unenclosed front garden adjacent to the parking lot. I lived on an Estate where a number of small, bored children were always looking for something to do - so I offered a small bounty to the child who dug out the most convolvulus roots. The game was played every Sunday and roots had to be 5 inches or longer to qualify.

The plant was effectively gone in one summer.

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The only thing I want to add... You are fighting 2 battles, one against the plants, one against the seeds.

You must never let it seed, or your eradication will be delayed by years.

You should fight a pitched battle against a small area , maybe 20m by 10m for a year or 2, then advance.

For the plants in my area, the main problem is that are dormant while I am fighting weeds in the spring, then pop up when I am resting on my mid summer laurels.

I have heard rumors of putting the plant in a cup of glyphosate, seems dangerous to me, but who knows.

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Back in the 1950's when gardeners were real gardeners (!) I remember my father successfully eliminated convolvulus from our suburban garden which was on heavy clay soil. He dug about five foot down along the fence and inserted galvanised sheeting where the convolvulus had come through from a neighbours garden and he then dug over the entire garden to about the same depth picking out every piece by hand also being careful not to mix the subsoil which was pure red clay (there was a brickworks not far away) with the topsoil. If you leave even a 1" piece of root in the ground it can grow into another plant and you are back where you started.

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I have found that a good deterrent is to run chickens on a chosen piece of ground. They peck away any bits of green and the plant becomes exhausted. Same applies to Japanese knotweed, but you will still have to be vigilant if and when you move the chickens!

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    I have bindweed growing in my chicken run. I can attest that they do not touch the bindweed. Someone had recommended running chickens through a bindweed patch....this will not work as I know from experience. – Bea Duncan Jun 4 '18 at 16:11
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I would sink a plastic barrier to stop any more of that root getting on your patch, corrogated plastic as one can bend onto shape round a corner and about 18 inches or more deep, secondly i would put jam jars of concentrated weedkiller around the edge- but be carefull and break any incoming stems and shove them in the jars the ends should in theory suck up any killer and start to die off this should also stop any contamination of your crops and neighbouring soil

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An alternative approach that does not resort to herbicides would be to simply build the soil nutrition without tilling until it is no longer a good habitat for the opportunistic pioneer bindweed.

From Toby Hemenway's book Gaia's Garden:

Two or three seasons of tedious excavation of seemingly endless root networks didn't faze the morning glories (bindweed). Deep mulch, even heavy wood chips merely delayed their exuberant eruption into daylight and rapid smothering of anything else I planted. It was the closest I've come to considering herbicide. Then, one year, the morning glories were pale and patchy, and in two more years they were gone, even though I hardly weeded them. In the meantime, the soil in these beds had gone from red clay to luscious black loam after years of constant deep mulches.

  • Thanks - I'd read that bindweed survives best in poor soils. I have a small infestation at the bottom of my garden, around some established fruit trees - I don't want to use a herbicide. So... time to really improve the soil. Thanks for the confirmation! – David Griffiths May 29 '18 at 21:29
  • There's another benefit to this strategy: The better the soil (better meaning looser, more friable) the easier it is to dig out bindweed. – greggles Jun 5 '18 at 14:30
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I have had significant results with this method: 1. Gather quart or gallon zip lock bags. I use old bags that are no longer good for food storage. 2. When bindweed vines are long enough, section off a vine or group of vines and stuff them in a bag. Try not to break the vines, you want to kill down to the roots. Spray glyphosate (Roundup) inside the bag onto as much of the leaf material as possible. Zip up the bag to where the vine comes out. 3. Let the bag stay on for weeks, until the bindweed inside is very dead and dry. This works especially well during the summer. Dispose of the bag with the dead bindweed in the trash.

I have eradicated bindweed from large areas of our 2 acre property. Unfortunately, some years I have been unable to carry out the eradication due to my job demands so there are still places bindweed is troublesome. Maybe I'll kill them all next year!

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