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A Visit to Martha’s Farm

When we visited Martha Stewart’s personal residence in New York Tuesday afternoon, a photographer was on hand to capture every nuance of the visit for Martha’s blog: http://www.themarthablog.com/2010/10/an-organic-lawn-care-expert-visits-my-farm.html#comments. I have since confirmed that the two weeds were we asked to identify are horsenettle and black swallow-wort. We’ll be offering up eradication strategies and welcome any input from people with experience.

About The Author

Paul Tukey

An international leader of the green movement, Mr. Tukey is a journalist, author, filmmaker, TV host, activist and award-winning public speaker, who is widely recognized as North America's leading advocate for landscape sustainability and toxic pesticide reduction strategies.

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  • http://www.natraturf.com Craig Dick

    Paul,
    First I would conduct soil sampling in both paddocks. Make sure it is a complete sample, something like the Midwest Labs (www.midwestlabs.com/) SC3 test which will sample for almost everything.

    Horse nettle, (SOlanum carlinense), in the night shade family which we have in Iowa, likes soil very low in calcium, phosphate, potassium and magnesium. Low humic matter and soils low in biology. I would use compost on this field, I would also be using compost tea to increase the soil biology, and I might even find a good soil inoculums product. Without a soil test it is impossible to know how much soil amendments and fertilizer to add to bring the soil into balance. However if it is low in pH you will need some high calcium lime (even though the soil is likely low in magnesium I would avoid dolomitic lime since it is very un-reactive i.e. low rate of dissolution). You could use Kmag in place. I would also be finding a good source of soft rock phosphate. Using these products in the right combination, should help restore balance to the soil and reduce the impact of the weed.

    While I couldn’t find information on black swallow-wort (Cynanchum louiseae) It is a member of the milkweed family. As a general rule, milk weeds like low calcium and phosphate soils. They also like high potassium and magnesium soils. Again a good soil analysis is critical, but it is likely that too much compost has been used on this paddock, resulting in the high potassium levels. Applying high levels of calcium will help bring down the potassium, products would include, calcitic lime, soft rock phosphate and gypsum. The gypsum will also help reduce the magnesium and increase air and water inflitaration to the soil.

    Hope this helps!

    If you would like to read more on soil nutrient balancing in agriculture situations, check out http://blog.calciumproducts.com/. Calcium Products is the parent company of NatraTurf.

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