Horsetail (Equisetum arvense), also called Mare’s tail, has got to be the most hated of all weeds. It’s the hardest ever to get rid of. That is not an exaggeration. I am telling you, it has made this Novice Gardener weep, given her nightmares, and possibly caused her craving of salt & vinegar potato chips.
So, horsetail looks innocent enough. In fact, it can look beautiful in that alien sort of way. Very sculptural. I mistook it for a pine tree seedling when one stalk appeared out of the mulch years ago. Neglect and ignorance led to the whole area later blanketed by the gold absorbing plants.
Yes, that’s right. It may be one of the few redeeming qualities of horsetail. It can accumulate gold in its cells. The others being its rough, wiry leaves so rich in silica that you can use them like a scouring pad, and supposedly taken as an herbal supplement to strengthen hair and nails.
There’s some chatter online about its ability to remove cellulite. I’ve met this cellulite. Believe me, you don’t want it around. Which, I guess, could pose a dilemma if you have both horsetail and cellulite.
Some people also mention that the young shoots in the spring are edible, but I’m not taking their word for it, because there are also mentions that they are poisonous, enough to kill pasture animals.
The side yard where the horsetail abounds had been designed, then redesigned, several times, all to work around the horsetail. Or precisely, to contain the offending weed. After 5 years, it’s hard to tell who’s winning, the gardener or the horsetail.
The latest round of horsetail removal blitz involves pulling out all other vegetation in the area, digging out as much horsetail as possible, applying a thick sprinkling of lime, wait for 2 weeks. Then, it starts all over again. Digging, sprinkling, and waiting.
On the surface, there is less horsetail now, but who knows deep down. Roots are probably spreading and plotting revenge. Now someone on the internet mentions planting turnips to discourage horsetail. So, I’ll give it a try. Turnip seeds will be planted thickly and we shall see.
Hopefully, the neighbors won’t question our sanity. Growing turnips in a public area. But just maybe, maybe they won’t notice. They’re not exactly the gardening type.