As attractive as the flower may be, I think Agapantha (Agapanthus praecox) is horrible. It spreads and chokes out other plants and robs the soil of nutrients. And as far as I know, there is no beneficial use for it, not as food, medicine or as part of a permaculture system.

Unfortunately, we have a lot of it on our urban ranch. In most places it is so established that the roots sit about a foot and a half proud of the soil level. And even though the roots are soft and wet, it takes a helluva lot of hard graft to dig the buggers out. And the leaves are extremely mucilaginous so it a sticky, slimy, mess of a job.

Agapanthus root

To get around some of the sliminess, I first hacked back the leaves to make it easier to get into the roots. I’ve learnt that as long as the leaves aren’t cut too close to the white parts (in case the re-shoot), the leaves can be used as a thick mulch for weedy, troublesome areas. The heavy leaves form a thick mat that chokes out the weeds. I’m not sure if I’d use it to mulch around plants I want to keep though, because as the leaves break down, they will release all that sticky mucilage which could temporarily prevent air getting into the soil and to the roots of the plants.

Broken Spade

 

Digging out the roots is all grit and muscle. I have used a number of tools in the past, including an axe and a saw. However, throwing the blade of a spade at the clump and prising seems to be the most effective method. I’ve had casualties along the way – and broke my favourite spade in the process of removing one stubborn clump.

Mulch

We did our best to dig out as much of the finger-like roots as possible but I know hundreds are still there. I’m hoping a heavy mulch of thick card and pea straw will be the end of them. OK, maybe two layers of cards. However, I checked with organic gardening guru, Kath Irvine (EdibleBackyard.co.nz), and she said that they are incredibly persistent and suggested that I may need to resort to some controlled use of glyphosate to get rid of them. Kath’s exact words were, “Aggies are one of those weeds you need to bring out the big guns for. Only organic alt (sic) is a small digger”.

Hoping it won’t come to that. I’ll let you know how it goes.

After the spade broke, I took to the root with a hatchet

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