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I ran away from teaching to the country to grow veggies. There are also some chooks and a pair of troublesome goats who were so much trouble they had to go! My simple green life isn't always as simple or as green as I'd like...but I keep trying!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Hazel hates herbicide

But Hazel hates Oxalis even more!

Oxalis (sour sob) is a native of South Africa. Some kind soul must have thought it was pretty and introduced it to Australia.  It is highly invasive and has been declared a noxious weed.  

My poor old dad had it in his vegetable garden.  It came in a pot with a 'legitimate' plant.  He spent many heartbreaking years trying to deal with it.  

Cultivation only encourages it.   It grows by bulb and seed. If you weed it by hand, the stalks and leaves break off and it pops up again.   Dad sifted his entire vegetable garden several times.  But some of the bulblets are tiny and it is impossible to find them all.  Even when heavily mulched, its stalks will make their way to the surface.  If it is allowed to flower it seeds profusely.

Gardening Australia suggest feeding it to death.  But the last line in their advice is. "This can take several years of repeated treatments to be totally effective".  Did you read that carefully...SEVERAL YEARS! In other forums people suggest weeding on a daily basis to weaken the bulbs.  Others recommend covering it with black plastic to 'cook' it.  My experience is that it will just lay dormant until the right conditions occur and reappear.

The only way I have ever been able to beat it is to poison it.  I paint the leaves with the herbicide...I don't spray.  It will diligence and several applications to finish it off.  This is feasible because I only have three small patches.  I think I would sell the house and garden if there was any more!

Sorry to all the purists out there but I can't let it get a hold.


  1. Is this the yellow flowering one Hazel, or the one with the little pink flowers? I have both....lucky me!

  2. Sounds similar to my hatred of the wild onions that grow in my garden.. Good luck in your war against the sour sob!

  3. I do not know what colour the flowers...I think they may be white. But I am sorry I am not going to let it flower to find out!

  4. The chooks love it.

  5. I can't view your photo, Maccas free internet only does so much!

    I will however, be informing on you to the green police... because I have never ever done anything unenvironmental in my life :p

  6. Hazel, I had to establish a new vegie garden site after oxalis took over my first vegie garden. I have successfully excluded oxalis in the new vegie garden so far!
    The old vegie garden has been mown for three or four years and the drought took over, however, with this years wonderful season the oxalis has reared its ugly head. The mown area and in other garden beds there is very healthy oxalis and I must make sure that it doesn't flower and seed. Out with the paint brush and Round Up but nowhere near my vegies!

  7. Oh dear; I didn't realize Oxalis was such a problem. I have a beautiful-looking deep purple ornamental one called "Red Burgundy" in a pot (and it produces white flowers which contrast strikingly with the foliage). I shall have to be careful it doesn't escape.

    In the UK there has been a lot of interest recently in efforts to halt the advance of Japanese Knotweed, which is hugely invasive (and grows to about 8 feet tall if you let it!). You see a lot of it alongside railway lines, where it has escaped from people's back gardens.

  8. Mark there are different types of oxalis. I also have a running variety which is not particularly invasive and easy to pull out. You can actually buy certain ones in nurseries which do not spread. Maybe yours is one of those. And anyway, different species behave differently in different places. Like the introduced rabbits here that have caused farmers heartache over the years. In England they are cute, here a feral pest. We don't have the cold winters to keep the numbers down.

  9. Sometimes a girl just has to do what a girl has to do.

    Introduced fireign plants can cause havoc as in their native land there is often something that controls it.

    Even though they are beautiful rhododendrons are considered a nuisance in natural woodland here in the UK as they out compete the indigenous plants.

    My gripe is the masses of oil seed rape that is growing in so many fields is escaping into the wild and I'm sute there has been an increase in brassica pest since it became such a common sight.

  10. Exactly why I believe we should all only grow plants indigenous to our areas. You never know which alien will get out of control. We have oxalis in our garden and it is certainly not a pest. It is also an important ingredient in a local stew called Waterblommetjie bredie.

  11. I hope you get it under control ....I have that same issue with chick weed!

  12. When I was a child I use to pick yellow sour sobs as flowers for my mum and of course we all use to eat the stems for that lovely sour taste. As soon as you took a bite one of the boys would always say that he saw a dog wee on that one. The boys would have competitions to see who could eat the most stems. Ahhh those were the days! :)

  13. Oh I have that one too, which along with convulvulus makes weeding the vege (and flower) gardens a misery. What herbicide are you using Hazel? I tried roundup and it seemed to kill everything but the oxalis. Last year I used Death To Oxalis which seems to have reduced the numbers quite a bit. This year I'm just digging them up as I weed the garden. I've had to resign myself to their presence a bit as I know I'll never get rid of them completely, but I'll do all I can to make life unpleasant for them!


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