Death to Nightshade

What? I’m killing plants? Settle down, nature lovers. I need to safely get rid of a plant that’s dangerous for the horses in the areas that are going to be dry, and I need to remove some snake habitat near the chickens.

When there’s not much grass, horses will eat anything.

The beautiful local nightshade, the silver leaf nightshade (Solanum elaeagnifolium) is everywhere this time of year. It has pretty purple flowers and cool tomato-like but inedible fruit.

Pretty flowers, but nasty thorns.

It’s hard to pull it up, because of the thorns all over the leaves and stems, but I need to make the area where Apache will be staying safe for him. In a pasture, there’s plenty of other grass, so it’s no big deal. But, in the “dry lot” or pen, where were now putting him in afternoons, he’d eat it.

Apache had a fine new hay bag to snack on. Horses need to eat pretty much all the time.

So, I was given a big sprayer with a mixture of white vinegar, salt, and Dawn dish detergent in it. This is bad for plants, but not toxic for animals. I sprayed around the chicken coop first. They thought it was treat time, because the spray made all the grasshoppers jump off the plants and into the pen.

Sad plant by chicken coop

I then sprayed under the roof where the stalls will be, and got most of the rock pile sprayed (the rocks are leftover limestone bricks from building our house).

Unhappy nightshade. Ok grass.

When I walked out this morning, all the forbs looked really sad, including the nightshade. The grass looked parched, but not awful. I may have to spray it again, when we get more ingredients.

I never was so pleased at killing anything.

So, it looks like we will ditch the commercial herbicides and use this method to clean up around our property and keep all our animals safe and happy.

We still have PLENTY of grass.

Author: Sue Ann (Suna) Kendall

The person behind The Hermits' Rest blog and many others. I'm a certified Texas Master Naturalist and love the nature of Milam County. I manage technical writers in Austin, help with Hearts Homes and Hands, a personal assistance service, in Cameron, and serve on three nonprofit boards. You may know me from La Leche League, knitting, iNaturalist, or Facebook. I'm interested in ALL of you!

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