Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Dealing With the Invaders

Buck and I spend a fair amount of time here at the Homestead dealing with plants that don't belong. You would think that being so far out in the middle of nowhere, there would be more native and less invasive, but alas, birds fly and with them, so do seeds.

We have to deal with the ever encroaching Himalayan Blackberry and the pernicious English Ivy, but we also have the fluffy, dandelion-like flying Tansy Ragwort seed and the "Pop in the Air" flying seed of Scotch Broom. The Scotch broom seed
can live up to 80 years in the ground before germinating.

The Ivy, Scotch broom and Blackberry make a thick monoculture, crowding out and killing off native grasses and understory plants.

Buck Vs. Scotch broom

Our rocky soil is one reason digging is not really an option.
The Tansy on the other hand is poisonous to grazing animals. It caused a 5 to 10% loss of cattle in Oregon in the early 1970's, forcing many small dairies to shut down. It will kill horses too.

Tansy Ragwort

All but the Tansy were brought to the Pacific Northwest as "ornamental" and garden plants. Sigh. They're here to stay, that's for sure.

English Ivy trying to creep up a Doug fir without me noticing. I noticed.
I have been mowing the English ivy and pulling or cutting it anytime I see it making it's way up a tree. English ivy goes to the tree canopy where it blooms and makes yummy seeds for the birds to eat and like the Himalayan blackberries, the birds poop them everywhere, far and wide.

Luckily we have a few tools and friends to help us out. Cinnabar moth caterpillars help with the Tansy

Cinnabar moth caterpillars munch away on the Tansy Ragwort
 and Buck's new Weed Wrench has promise to make short work of the Scotch broom.
Before: A job well done. Thanks Buck!
After: Future site of my garden expansion!


  1. Check, check, check, and check. Somehow we seem to have all four of those annoying plants on our property too. As I kid I always loved petting those Cinnabar moths. They are so soft and brightly colored.

  2. They are kind of magical. So exotic to see. Did you have to spend Saturdays pulling Tansy?

  3. We have burdock to deal with. Super invasive, and you practically need a back-hoe to dig it up. I've been working on eradicating it for 8 years now, hopefully this will be the year I win the battle. That and a ton of goutweed - I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy, oh, and phragmite also. That stuff's not kill-able. I'm about ready to strafe the garden with napalm...kidding about that obviously, but it's a constant struggle.


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