Soft rush and docks

One person's weed, another's wild plant! A place for discussing their management
Amy
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Soft rush and docks

Post by Amy »

from the internet:

Soft Rush:
https://www.soilassociation.org/media/7 ... -notes.pdf - well worth a read
(my personal interpretation - it's worth cutting to prevent seeding in mid summer, but, if you cut it, it spreads sideways, so you either have large tall clumps or sideways spreads, and unless you dry out your land, you're stuffed and have to live with it spreading wherever it is wet) There are more associated Soil Association field notes from Scotland- all rather depressing; basically drain, fertilise and reseed with clover, or hope you get wading birds but you still have to cut, encourage other marsh plants so physically less space and light for rushes (my interpretation not a quote), cutting will be a lot of work and may not be effective.

https://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/weeds/rushes - well worth a read
(my take: scary numbers of seeds, need light and bare ground to germinate)

https://www.suffolkwildlifetrust.org/ru ... nd-control
"Where rush control is required on small sites consider the following options to minimise harm to wildlife and maximise effectiveness of control:
• Top one area of rushes monthly, starting before midsummer, to reduce the plants’ vigour – more effective than more regular cutting. Use a sturdy topper, set a few cm above the height of the thick tussock base to minimise damage to machines and insects.
• Top once a year in July or August when the rushes are flowering to keep rushes in check
."


Docks: https://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/sites/ ... /docks.pdf
well worth a read.
(My personal experiment this year - digging out by hand whilst ground is soft and immediately sowing cover seeds aiming to outcompete dock seeds in the disturbed ground - perennials seeds saved from last year and temporary phacelia which latter will highlight for me the areas where the docks have been so I can check for regrowth.)

Monty Don: "The type and limitations of the weeds growing are a useful indicator of the nature and condition of your soil. Very acidic soil will produce lots of sorrel and plantain, but no charlock or poppy which thrive on lime. Chickweed is a good indicator of a neutral pH. Nettles, ground elder, fat hen and chickweed point to a soil high in nitrogen. Silverweed and greater plantain will grow on very compacted soil. Creeping buttercup, horsetail and silverweed (again) point to a wet soil with poor drainage." https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyl ... 22/gardens I guess we all know this, but it's nice to have it confirmed, saves on soil testing and if you have acid conditions, don't waste £ on poppies.


(original post- now edited because there is no longer any excuse for lockdown garrulity.)
Last edited by Amy on Tue Apr 13, 2021 12:31 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Steve Pollard
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Re: Wet meadow perennnial thugs -Fleabane, hemlock water dropwort, meadowsweet, bur reed, moor grass, soft rush

Post by Steve Pollard »

Amy, I'm sorry don't have an answer for you, but I do want to say that other people's problems always seem so desirable! My first Fleabane plant turned up last year - finding it was one of the highlights of my Summer, I can't wait for it to become a thug. Who could possibly protest at the frothy delight of Meadowsweet? My one clump of HWD is a monoculture, but nothing else throngs with insects like it does. Innocent question, is it a problem if the brook gets clogged? PMG is difficult to manage in that it has to be grazed at precisely the time when you don't want everything else grazed! Yes, soft rush just has to be cut on rotation. Perhaps luckily I don't have any Silverweed or Bur Reed. What the non-thugs that you're trying to protect?
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Re: Soft rush and docks - and sharp flowered rush

Post by Amy »

Sharp flowered rush - this year has spread a great deal and grown particularly tall, with me. Advice from an expert to me which you can have for free:

Keep stock off the wettest areas in winter, as poaching favours the spread of sharp flowered rush. Whenever soil conditions permit machinery on the ground, whatever the time of year - even if one has to sacrifice the flowers - cut and clear the rush to reduce the bulk of vegetation, the greater the bulk of rush, the fewer the other flowers as they are smothered. The flowers are perennial, so roots will remain, and it is worth the sacrifice just to reduce the rush.

(Yes, it may seem obvious, and I have already read this, sometimes though, one just has to have, (or at least I have to have) something spelled out by someone else, for it to be taken on board. And there's always the reluctance to overcome - to sacrifice the precious flowers - even when mowing paths, but the roots will remain for next year.)

Where paths have been mown through the bog in previous years, marsh valerian, ragged robin and loosestrife do seem to have spread in large patches on the mown areas. I think this is due to the shorter vegetation and greater light, though it may be that they are just easier to see.
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Re: Soft rush and docks

Post by Amy »

To recommend 2 videos with much food for thought (and looking forward to Simon Berry of DWT's comments in the forthcoming MM Conservation Grazing videos). 1. from the Hen Harrier Project, 2. from Carmarthenshire Meadows Group

Rush Management - from the Hen Harrier project in Ireland:
includes -on most farms rush is only a problem if they completely take over, give other plants a chance to compete with the rushes, rotational grazing with 40 - 50 days rest, cattle will not eat mature rush, young cattle more likely to nibble rushes, not keen on chemical control - a temporary solution, weed licking or wiping only where rush growth is very vigorous and must be followed up by targeted grazing, millions of seeds in the soil, cut only where really necessary, possibly first two years, but then Not every year - (but then they do advocate lime and drainage - this is to improve grazing value - the video is not specifically targeted at wild flower meadows), top just after stock have left and rest the field, clear litter but leave some tussocks for overwintering insects and bales of cut rushes (with fastenings removed) for small rodents and hence birds of prey, as a one off - mushing up rushes to leave as mulch allows other plants to compete but do v late in year as devastating for frogs, small mammals etc, and follow with targeted grazing and mowing


The second is a rather charming video documenting the transformation of a very wet smallholding in West Wales, with acres of shoulder-high impenetrable soft rush, to grass with 120+ species
Soft Rush - a growing problem
from the Carmarthenshire Meadows Group.

- what the neighbours do, historical management?, cutting and clearing, a huge amount of manual labour, weed wiping, low density sheep grazing, the consequences of a bullock escape, shallow ditch scraping, beautiful skyscapes



I wonder if transplanting fleabane rhizomes would help suppress the rush seeds.
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Re: Soft rush and docks

Post by Robin »

Thanks, Amy. I will watch these, as I have soft rush which is spreading a bit too much. It's so helpful that you put the key points in your post, so we know whether it's worth a watch.
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