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Wild Onions and Wild Garlic Solutions

Updated on February 25, 2014
Thank you Texas Homesteader.
Thank you Texas Homesteader.

Got an e-mail a few weeks ago that had 3 questions involved. This Ashland reader asked me about, “How do you get rid of Wild Onions? My wife has tried many different possible solutions to this and all of them have limited success.” I’m happy to respond to your question, and I’ll do my best to provide and answer. I wrote a column in April of 2012 on a similar topic.

Wild Garlic which is Allium vineale and Wild Onion which is Allium canadense are both bulbs and as bulbs are kind of like the ice berg of the plant family. What I mean is that most of the plants size and strength is going to be below ground level. Both Wild Onion and Wild Garlic are considered winter perennials. They both come out in the fall and overwinter growing and getting stronger for the season to come. You need to get rid of the flowers when they first show up and vigorously remove them. In early summer they die back and get ready for the next season. Both the bulbs and bulblets remain in the soil in a dormant condition. If you are going to treat these weeds with a chemical you are going to need to do it soon or wait until November to attack them at their weakest.

I’m afraid that I have this wonderful weed in my front yard in one of my beds. Before I was a convert to organic solutions, I sprayed some Roundup on my Wild Onion my evil little uninvited guests. Fortunately, I experienced some limited success, which was great. If I would have used a weed wacker scuffing up the onions then spray with the herbicides during an actively growing time of year, I would have had better results, because the open portions of the plant can take in the herbicide. The scuffing up gets rid of the waxy protection of the leaf. But I still have some infestation of these weeds in that same bed. One of my fun weeding tools is something that I can even get young people to use. This tool is also effective against Wild Onions. I have one of those lawn blow torches that I’m not sure I would have to pay a young person that was really into watching fires. One of the problems though is that you may wind up with a totally crisp bed or maybe the house burning down. Maybe on second thought any kid that was really into watching fires probably should not use this tool. This would mean that you have to reserve the fun and the propane for yourself. Because we are looking at a bulb, I have experienced heavily mulching over the areas where the Wild Onion grows and they still came through. If you dig out every bulb and bulblet down below the roots, and dispose of the clumps, you should experience a good level of success. Seriously, I believe that this digging may be possible in the right setting. Don’t compost these weeds, because they can endure the temperatures involved while composting.

This past winter I discovered that these onion plants are acid loves. This means that if you were to spread lime over the areas where you find the onions you will begin and possibly control the weed. One of the truly unique solutions to this onion problem, which is truly organic and provides nutrients to the soil, and I personally get a chuckle. First start out with proper fencing around the infected area with the onions. You need to be prepared for major repairs to the area you fence off. Pigs love wild onions and wild garlic and will pursue these delicacies until there is nothing left. These pigs enjoy onions so much that you could compare their desire for onions as to my desire for chocolate.

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