Green thumb Dopers, need advice

Hello Everyone,

We live on 5 acres and have it fenced off into two fields. We have 2 horses, one mini horse and two mini donkeys. We live in Central Florida so the soil is very sandy. The problem I have is our back field is overrun with weed type plants, mainly the one the locals call milkweed.

The plan is to kill the weeds, airiate the soil and plant bahaia grass seed. My problem is how do I go about killing the weeds off without making the soil toxic to the horses and donkeys?

Some people have suggested a mixture of dish soap and salt, guaranteed to kill the milkweed, safe for the animals, but nothing will ever grow again. So, I guees my only two choices are chemicals or pulling each one by hand. Pulling isn’t really an option. It’s 100 degrees outside, it’s 2 acres of milkweed and my back won’t take it. So, are there any chemicals that I can use to kill the weeds, not kill the animals or grass, that will allow seed to be planted afterwards?

Thanks in advance!

Burn it off. You probably will have to get permits and a group of folks willing to help. But it can be done.

You need to consult with your county agricultural agent. Not us.

Your tax money pays his salary so get on the horn.

Loads and loads of monarch caterpillars :wink:

There are selective herbicides that would kill the broadleaf weeds like milkweed but don’t affect grass. I’m not sure what’d be available in your area, or how toxic they’d be to your livestock though.

You could also treat the plants with a translocated herbicide- that is, one that can be basically painted on to a few leaves of each plant, which then affects the roots. It’s time consuming to apply, though a lot less effort than pulling the plants, but it shouldn’t leave much, if any toxic residue if applied properly.

Honestly though, getting local advice is the best plan. Aside from anything else, there’s a lot of herbicide resistant plants spreading around, so something recommended could be useless in your area.

Ps. I’m pretty sure you don’t want green thumb Dopers- we try not to kill stuff.

Don’t know if this service is available in Central FL, but here in Hawaii there are Goat Herd rental services. Goats are trucked in and watched over by a shepherd or two. The goats make quick work of any vegetation they have access to.

You might want to look into getting your own goats or hair sheep (no shearing) to keep the area clear of weeds. They should get along fine with your other animals.

Another method you could try would be to cut the milkweed down as low as possible and continue to do this on a weekly basis. Soon the milkweed will not be able to recover and the roots will die out. Till the soil and remove as much of the milkweed root systems as you can.

Now you can plant what ever you want as long as you are sure that enough rain will fall to germinate the seed. Hydroseeding would be the best way to do this.

Milkweed seeds blowing in from the surrounding areas will always be a problem that would need to be addressed on a regular basis.

Gordon’s Pasture Pro Herbicide. Safe for animals as soon as it dries.

You might also want to consider overseeding something like GroundWork Equine Forage along with your bahaia grass seed.

This, but if they aren’t available you could raise goats and they will eat everything green they can find and produce milk and meat in the process. Once the area is mostly cleared you can prep the soil and plant the grass seed and hope the grass grows faster and takes over before the weeds can take hold. It sounds like water isn’t an issue so you’re lucky there.

Note that as has been mentioned you will never be free of weeds no matter what you do. Your only hope is to keep them from taking over and using a biological agent to remove large patches when necessary. Talk to your neighbors with animals and see what they use to deal with their weeds. Your problem is not unique. I would consider growing hay if you can which will offset the cost of keeping your animals.

You need to mow, and regularly.

Plant a sturdy southern grass like Bermuda, and the best way is to mow everything sort & have it drilled in. You’ll have to keep the animals off it for a bit until it’s established though (and either water it or pray for rain). Once it is, keep your fields mowed. You won’t have to keep it lawn-like, just enough to level out the roughs that they don’t eat as much, and to prevent the weeds from setting seed and taking over.

Goats are fun, but also a PITA and surprisingly picky. They eat many broadleaf weeds, but not all. They also need an immense amount of deworming, and superb fencing.
(Also, 5 acres isn’t remotely enough land to pasture animals and grow hay)

Borrow some goats or chickens. Both will devour the weeds and leave some fertilizer which will enhance your new soil.

You’re right, we supplement with hay rolls, oats, sweet feed, etc. Plus w have use of a neighbors acreage that we are able to let them graze in.