How to Grow Weeds – by Jackie Miles

agapanthusOver the last 20 years managing my property in Brogo and working as a botanist, I’ve discovered ten great methods for introducing and spreading weeds. Follow these ten easy steps and you can, like me, guarantee yourself a fairly onerous weed control job for life!

1. Weeds love bare ground, so create as much as you can. Pen or hand feed hard-footed livestock in small areas, especially when soil is wet. Overstock your paddocks and just hang in during droughts rather than destocking – it’s bound to rain sooner or later and in the meantime you can buy feed in. When controlling weeds, use a non-selective herbicide, or cultivate the ground to create lots of bare areas. Burn piles of fallen timber all over the place. Spray herbicide along fence lines and around buildings to keep the place looking neat.

2. If hand-feeding livestock, use hay or grain, not pellets, and spread the stuff all over the property. Don’t bother checking where it comes from or what weed seed it is likely to include. You are bound to get a few novel weeds well distributed around your block that way.

3. Increase soil fertility. We all know Australian soils are mostly pretty poor in nutrients, and richer has to be better, right? And with the odd exception like African Lovegrass, most weeds will do so much better with a bit of extra nutrition. It really gives them that crucial edge over the local natives. Apply lots of fertiliser in your house yard and then water like mad so most of it gets carried down-slope into other areas.

4. Don’t bother learning what the local weeds look like or getting unfamiliar plants properly identified. If you don’t like the look of something it is bound to be a weed and deserves nuking. On the other hand if it has a pretty flower it is bound to be harmless.

5. Garden like there’s no tomorrow. Acquire your plants indiscriminately from friends giving away surplus plants (bound to be the weediest species) and charity stalls. Don’t bother asking at the nursery about the weed potential of plants; if you like the look of it, just buy it. Buy from mail-order companies that advertise their plants as likely to naturalise freely in your garden. Hell, why not go the whole hog and order seed from overseas on the Internet? Go for nice weedy mulching products like spoiled hay, in preference to clean ones like sugar cane mulch or rice hulls; it’s likely to be heaps cheaper (at least in the short term). Better still, get a load of uncomposted manure from your nearest stable or dairy, dig it in and then don’t bother removing anything that comes up.

6. Extend your gardening out of the house yard and into the bush. It’ll look so much prettier with some nice big colourful flowers scattered through it. And while you are at it, why not mow your bush too? Mowers and slashers are a great way of spreading weed seed, especially if you mow your weediest areas first, and then head into the bush.

7. Dump your garden waste over the fence, or better still, find a nice moist spot for it like a gully.

8. Wait till weeds have produced seed before you remove them, and don’t bother collecting the seed for safe disposal. In fact why not spread it around a bit? Slash seeding plants, or carry weeds to another area for burning or burying. Or take them to the tip in an un-covered load on your trailer or ute.
9. Tackle new infestations on your place on an ad hoc basis. Don’t bother doing a thorough search to find out the full extent of the infestation, just hit the plants you find first and hope for the best. You never know, that might be all there are.

10. Don’t bother controlling weeds that appear on the road verge near your property. It’s not your land, so they are not your problem (or not yet, anyway). Someone else will take care of them.

Just kidding folks! If you can avoid doing any or all of these things, it should greatly improve your chances of preventing new infestations and controlling the weeds you already have effectively. It’s still going to be a job for life, but hopefully a less onerous one.


from CMN Newsletter Spring 2010

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