Mares Tail

If you would like advice from the Kitchen Garden editorial team, ask here. Steve, Emma or Tony will pop in with their best advice.

Moderators: KG Steve, Chantal, Tigger, peter

KG Regular
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Feb 09, 2018 11:55 am

Mares Tail

Postby 1948Dave » Fri Feb 09, 2018 12:06 pm

Hi, I have recently been offered an Allotment plot, capacity, 125 sq mtrs, It is infested with Mares Tail, I would welcome your advice on how to begin eradicating this problem.
0 x
KG Regular
Posts: 659
Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2017 11:12 am
Location: Angus by the sea
x 106

Re: Mares Tail

Postby tigerburnie » Sat Feb 10, 2018 12:48 am

I don't think there's is way to eradicate it, you might reduce it, but it has been around since before the dinosaurs
0 x
Been gardening for 60 years and still learning
KG Regular
Posts: 236
Joined: Sun Sep 11, 2016 3:33 pm
Location: North Norfolk Coast
x 43

Re: Mares Tail

Postby Colin2016 » Sat Feb 10, 2018 9:49 am

There is a bit about on the allotment forum whcih may be of help. ... c=108544.0
0 x
KG Regular
Posts: 1592
Joined: Wed Oct 24, 2012 10:22 pm
Location: st.helens
x 236

Re: Mares Tail

Postby robo » Sat Feb 10, 2018 10:54 am

I bought a weed killer from amazon which worked but it was very expensive £40 for half a liter I think you watered down to 4to1 ,now I have a gas torch the long wand one I go round at the first sign burning them it works but it's a constant job when they first appear
0 x
User avatar
Tony Hague
KG Regular
Posts: 614
Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2005 6:26 pm
Location: Bedfordshire
x 19

Re: Mares Tail

Postby Tony Hague » Sat Feb 10, 2018 7:01 pm

I can sympathise, I have it too.

Chemical controls - glyphosate has limited effect, it is not absorbed well. Pelargonic acid will kill the foliage above ground, but isn't systemic. Glufosinate ammonium is effective, but isn't available to amateurs

The problem with mechanical methods is that the extent of the plant is deeper that you can dig it out from, and probably spreads beyond your plot. So even if you can prevent it from seeing the light of day, unless all your neighbours do likewise it will be able to get its energy somewhere.

Best to learn to live with it. It is not greatly competitive, and prefers poor soil. So add lots of organic matter to tip the balance in favour of your crops. Cut off the tops and leave in the sun / wind, they will quickly desiccate and can be crumbled into the compost bin. Because the roots go down fo ever, they can bring up useful minerals.

We did get rid of it from our garden. At the bottom was a paddock of waterlogged Bedfordshire clay. Once the property developers had dug out several feet of earth to build houses on it, a lot of the mares tail was removed from there, but it also dried out our garden a lot, which also helped. So improved drainage is good too. That and digging it up with a JCB !
0 x
KG Regular
Posts: 372
Joined: Sat Mar 18, 2006 12:55 am
Location: West Cork,
x 18

Re: Mares Tail

Postby Gerry » Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:21 pm

I remember Johnboy saying that whichever weed killer you use, better results will be achieved if the plant is crushed or bruised before aplying. Please, please, please, come back Johnboy, you were such a help to us all.

2 x
KG Regular
Posts: 3553
Joined: Thu Jul 06, 2006 8:13 pm
Location: Yorkshire Dales
x 165

Re: Mares Tail

Postby Monika » Mon Feb 12, 2018 8:25 pm

Many years ago, we had an allotment with mares tail which we attacked by all means available then (including first crushing the plants before applying weedkiller). We never did get rid of it all but learnt to live with it which isn't too bad because it sort of collapses in mid-summer and then the top growth disappears.
1 x
KG Regular
Posts: 20
Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2016 9:48 pm
Location: Leicestershire
x 8

Re: Mares Tail

Postby rowbow » Tue Feb 13, 2018 12:07 pm

My wife wanted her own plot, she managed to get one just up from our other one, the lady that had it before didn't plant much in it but did know how to grow mares tail, we had to take up all of the slabbed paths, we double dug the whole plot some of the roots went down further, so we dug down to get as much of the root as possible, now only time will tell, as soon as it shows its head dig it out.
:evil: :mrgreen:
1 x
KG Regular
Posts: 335
Joined: Tue Dec 13, 2005 12:18 am
Location: Central Kent
x 1

Re: Mares Tail

Postby Barry » Sat Mar 17, 2018 4:37 pm

It's actually remarkably easy to erradicate marestail, but you do need a bit of patience.
You use ammonium sulphamate, which is a compost activator. Mix 200g with one litre of water and spray the area where the weed is. Because the plant thinks this is ammonium sulphate, it will absorb it as feed and then die, right the way down to the roots. You may get some regrowth on the same site, since marestail emits spores that can live on, but usually that's the problem solved.
WARNING: ammonium sulphamate is a compost activator, which means it remains active in the soil for about three months. In other words, anything you plant there during that time will die. You know the ground is safe to use when weeds begin to emerge again. The sulphamate breaks down into fertiliser, so win-win!
Look for ammonium sulphamate on ebay, but don't confuse it with "sulphate", although you can use this stuff too, since it will increase the fertility of the soil and marestail hates that.
If you have marestail on a grass path, simply keep mowing; it cannot survive continual attrition and dies naturally.
0 x

Return to “Ask the team”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests