Hand-pulling disturbs the soil and that encourages new weeds to germinate.
On the other hand, new weeds are going to germinate anyway unless there is a thick cover of other vegetation. (For example, a good healthy grass cover in a paddock - hand-pulling one foxglove there won't start a zillion others.)
On the other hand again, germination can be good. The more seeds germinate this year, the fewer you have to worry about next year. Or in 2028. Sooner or later you have to exhaust the seed bank. Why not start now?
Nevertheless, on balance, spraying with a selective herbicide is preferred for larger infestations unless there is a good reason to hand-pull instead. For example, you can't spray along creeks or in wetlands. (Most sprays are a disaster for water life such as frogs if you go too close. You need to keep the chemical back a few metres so that it has a chance to deactivate before reaching the water. There are also specially formulated sprays designed for safe use near water: they are expensive and probably not practical for most non-professional users.)
When you hand-pull, be sure that you are pulling the whole plant out - if you just pull the top off, it will regrow worse than ever. Foxgloves tend to break off at ground level when you pull them: you have to get your fingers further down under the little knob you can feel and pull from there. (A small digging tool is often helpful, a weeding fork for example.)
Foxglove is poisonous. Don't get it on your hands or skin, let alone your eyes or mouth. Wear gloves and eye protection.
What do do with the plants you have pulled?
There are several methods:
- Pull the plant apart. Disconnect the roots from the leaves. Watch out if you rely on this! The section where the two parts join will sprout new roots (or new leaves) if you are not careful. Uprooted Foxgloves are very good at taking new root and going again.
- Take the plants away and dispose of them. (Somehow.) Only practical for very small infestations. Some Tasmanian council transfer stations still accept foxglove as green waste or as landfill, which they shouldn't as it only helps spread them.
- Pile the plants up and solarise them (cover them in black plastic or similar). This works. May or may not be practical depending on the size of your infestation.
- Pile the plants up and follow-up every so often. All the plants on the inside die. Only the outermost ones are likely to survive. Come back in a few weeks and deal with any live ones. Repeat every month or so. This is the fastest and easiest method and I recommend it.
- You can hand-pull a lot faster if you make several small piles close to where you are working - but small piles have a lot of surface area relative to volume, which means you get a lot of survivors, and follow-up becomes time-consuming and tedious.
- On the other hand, if you make one big pile while you are weeding, you'll be wasting a lot of time and energy walking over to the pile carrying a few foxglove plants and walking back empty handed.
- The best answer is to make small piles as you go, and then combine them into a few big piles when you are finished. Yes, it's an extra step but overall it is a time saver. (You may find a pitchfork useful.)
- If you are doing isolated plants at the edge of an infestation - those annoying ones dotted around in ones and twos where they are hard to find - take a 20 litre bucket with you to put the plants in. This saves a lot of back-and-forth.
- Weed before they flower! You can eliminate many, many more Foxgloves in an hour's work in August than you can in November. And there aren't any snakes around at that time of year. The later in the year you leave the weeding, the harder it gets.
- If in doubt, cut the flower stalk off. It will die eventually, but they very often set seed before they do. Sometimes it is best to strip the flowers into a bucket or a rubbish bag.
Go hard, go early. Come the warm weather, you can do a quick follow up on the foxglove every so often - catch the odd one that you missed last time, check to see they aren't germinating on your piles - and spend the rest of the week doing the fun stuff: picking tomatoes, planting sunflowers, or just sitting back and taking it easy.