Gardenjournal: on clearing invasives, managing weeds and other spring preparations
I've mentioned before that when I bought my house it had been totally neglected for 10 years and only the alien invasive plants had thrived. It's taken years to clear out my yard and get a productive vegetable garden going, as well as some succulent gardens that don't require watering because in our current water situation, I am only prepared to water the vegetables. On that note, the winter vegetables did well and I am harvesting peas and Swiss chard. As expected, the spinach has bolted now that it is spring so I'll be sowing beans in their place.
My peas have been the best ever this year: winter was cold but not killer
About six weeks ago I came home from work to find the compost heap outside my yard on fire. The surrounding grasslands had been set on fire, as happens every year, and I am grateful to my neighbours for getting out the hosepipe and keeping the fire out of my place. My house is part of a communal property and there is a section that has been impassable for years due to invasive agave and cacti, a bamboo infestation and an overgrowth of climbing roses. The fire had ripped though all of that, giving me an opportunity to clear up a corner that's been an ugly eyesore for a long time but I avoided it because there has been too much else to do and winter is the only suitable time for that kind of work.
An invasive Syringa tree bouncing back
Clearing invasives is extremely labour intensive because you need to remove the roots. In my rocky environment, herbicide becomes unavoidable. Spot treatment with garlon works wonders: applied with cotton wool to the shoots only, it will kill the entire tree and there's no environmental contamination. I am not a fan of herbicide but under the right conditions, it's a godsend. Syringa is particularly difficult to get rid of because it coppices, meaning that it forms groves by sending out underground shoots.
The prickly pears already got a good burning, all that remains is to cut them down and cover with thick plastic. Unfortunately most succulent invasives must be burned because they simply reroot themselves if you cut them down.
This is my bonfire pile I'm building, it should be about double the size when I'm ready to burn
Its unpleasant work in hot, windy conditions but at the right time of the year because the soil is completely dry and loose soil digging for roots is easy if there aren't too many rocks and the fire did a lot of work for me. Once the rains arrive, I will be able to plant native trees and succulents that will be able to establish themselves over summer. Native plants don't need additional water, don't rob all the groundwater, nor do they form dense, out of control patches.
I also need to clear all the builders rubble that some lazy fool dropped here years ago and eventually the grassland will rehabilitate itself and with a little cutting every winter, there won't be the same ugly, gigantic fire hazard that existed previously.
Builder's rubble, bamboo and invasive Canary Bird Bushes...
At first there will be a bumper crop of the weeds that inevitably come to colonise disturbed soil but if properly managed, the native grasses and other grassland plants will return. The difference between ordinary weeds and invasives is that the weeds colonise disturbed soil but invasives outcompete natural vegetation and ruin ecosystems. Last year I was going to cut down all the blackjack just before flowering because cutting them reduces the seed cycles without disturbing the soil. A lot of weeds are actually good that way because they thrive in disturbed soil and the roots stabilise it against erosion and build underground colonies of microorganisms and finally the weeds eventually give way to grasses.
That was the time when I fractured my hand and couldn't do anything at a critical time window so I have had to deal with endless quantities of blackjacks in my bed thanks to the cats that got them stuck in their fur and then came to clean themselves in my bed. I swear that's not going to happen again.
That's my garden life for the last few weeks, I haven't made progress on the greenhouse because I need another pair of hands to get the covering on and don't have anyone to ask at the moment.
If you're curious about the gardenjournal, see here: https://peakd.com/@riverflows/september-1-garden-journal-challenge-for-real-this-time
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Yoyoyo! Not a fan of herbicide, but sometimes you gotta do what ya gotta do!
Indeed! I can spend years fighting with the syringa or just end it now
Like the vaxxed 😌
Easy joke ahaha
Yes, this work is very time-consuming, so patience and strength to you!
Oh...one of my favorite plants!!!
I love the smell of Syringa!
In Cyprus, it is sold very rarely and is not cheap.
I bought it once, but it didn't survive :-(
I thought it was because of the heat, but it grows in your climate!
Maybe Syringa don't survive in a pot?
I'll send you seeds, it grows very fast. Here it can survive anywhere and is a weed so I'm thinking that it doesn't like your soil. Next time, try an acidic compost in a well-draining soil. Trees in pots need quite a bit of water and this one needs it in summer, it will go dormant in winter
Thanks a lot!
Lilac is a unique air purifier!
In Russia, lilacs are planted in almost all yards or near houses in order to purify the air.
And, of course, because of the flavor.
Ok, I think the common name of the plant tricked you. Syringa is not Lilac, I have seen the pictures that many Russians post of what they call Lilacs and it's not what I have at home. My trees are awful weeds, called Melia azedarach. Your Lilacs are Syringa vulgaris
Thanks for the explanation!
Yes, I mistook her for a lilac which is in Russia 🤭
Russian Lilacs are beautiful but I have no idea how to grow them 🤔 Perhaps they need a lot of water in Summer and dislike the heat
Russian Lilacs has medicinal leaves.
When I can fly (because of the sanctions), I can find out and bring her seeds for you.
This is fantastic - when a fire can be a blessing! Prickly pear can grow huge too. I'm sure with all the hard work you'll be grateful you did it in a few years time! I can almost feel the sweat from here.
I was reading about how they planted all this marram grass on sand dunes to stop erosion - it was a non native and did stop the dunes falling apart, but totally destroyed the native species and wierdly the surf! Because it's so good at what it does, when there's a storm surge and the waves hit the dunes, you're left with these huge banks. And because the sand isn't washing in and out as usual the sea changes underneath and so do the waves. So it can really piss surfers off - and though they've eradicated in some areas to revert back to natives, in others it's been almost impossible. They had this idea of using marram to 'revert' the dunes back to 'original' states but that was kinda bullshit as they locked in a landscape that is usually shifting.
....The road to hell is paved with good intentions....
wow amazing very cool,
It sure sounds like you've got your work cut out for you. Invasive weeds can be a real problem and getting on top of the situation can be a struggle. It sounds like the fire did some of the work for you, but also very dangerous, thank goodness for the neighbors.
It's good to hear that you did get a crop of peas and Swiss chard.
10 years of neglect surly will take some time to right the situation. Slow and steady wins the race and you do seem to be making some progress despite going it alone.
Give it hell my friend!
Thank you for the encouraging words, I will!
Oh my word but you have a challenge on your hands. It helps to have photos, and visitors, who can remind you of the progress. Especially when it feels like one step forward and a dozen steps back. We also had to restore our home(stead) that had been abandoned for almost a decade. Now a decade later we cannot believe what it was and now is. It helps to be reminded when you feel like you are still taking teeny steps forward .....
Yes, it's been diabolical. I do have photos and I do need to remind myself of the progress regularly.
I imagine that your place had become a forest of prickly pear and agave?
I know you've already done a lot of work but it looks like you have heaps more ahead of you!
Just keep it going and when it is done for sure you will have a wide space for your garden.
It is a lot to do when you have to prepare for spring. garden weed is time and energy-consuming work. Good to have spring. then autumn. We are preparing for autumn.Cold and windy. Have a nice weekend 🌞😊
Thanks! Enjoy your weekend too
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