Greengirls Helen Yarmoska, Nicole Hvidsten, Martha Buns, Connie Nelson, Kim Palmer and Mary Jane Smetanka are dishin' the dirt from the back-yard garden and beyond. Whether you're a greenthumb or greenhorn, they're eager to learn from your mishaps, mistakes - and most importantly, your sweet successes - all growing season long.
Last night, I found this growing in my lawn. ARGH! My favorite vegetable has officially become a ‘weed.’
Oh the horror. Asparagus is a perennial with deep roots. Others will follow. I can’t kill it, it’s too delicious.
Help! Give me a solution quick.
What will you be doing on Saturday?
I'll be getting rid of the mountains of buckthorn branches now piled in my back yard and driveway. They've been there since last week when I grabbed a chainsaw and attacked them with a vengeance. Sometimes they fought back, poking me with their thorns until I had bloody scratches up and down my arms. It was a grueling battle, but ultimately very satisfying.
And this time, they're not coming back -- not if I can help it. This time I went medieval, dousing the freshly cut stumps with Roundup. I hate using chemicals in my landscape but buckthorn is such a relentless bully that I made an exception.
I've been pulling out little buckthorns and cutting down big buckthorns for as long as I've been living in my current house (in northern Eden Prairie). But the big ones always come roaring back, bigger and badder than ever.
What's the urgency with getting rid of buckthorn? In natural areas, the invasive shrub is so fast-growing and aggressive that it chokes out native plants that support songbirds and other wildlife. In home landscapes, it does the same thing, plus it's scraggly and ugly, quickly shooting to twice the size of everything around it.
Fall is an ideal time to battle this monster, when its leaves are still green, making it easy to identify. If you don't have time to tackle all your buckthorn, concentrate on the female plants, the ones with the blackish-purple berries. They're the ones that will produce armies of new buckthorn for you to battle. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has some good information about buckthorn eradication on its website: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/terrestrialplants/woody/buckthorn/control.html
As for getting rid of buckthorn branches, most waste haulers will pick them up as yard waste if they're cut and bundled. I've got so many that I'd be sawing and bundling until Christmas. Instead, I'm going to haul it to the Mulch Store (www.mulchstoremn.com), which has four Minnesota Department of Agriculture-certified sites for disposal of tree branches and other yard waste.
Is your yard plagued with buckthorn? Or is something else on your "most hated" list?
Some people craft formal resolutions Jan. 1. For me, resolutions are more likely to be muttered beneath my breath in fall, as I wrap up another year's attempt at gardening and mentally move into the "next year" mode. Next year, I will do a better job of trimming and staking my tomatoes. .... Next year, I will stay ahead of the weeds. .... Next year, I will put in the watering system before it's 95 degrees.
That's probably one of the appeals of gardening: There's always the promise of another year to take the pressure off to achieve perfection in a compact five-month frenzy. To offset the list of should-haves, I try to look around and give myself credit for what accomplishments I managed: getting a rain barrel in place, replacing the scraggly evergreens with blueberry bushes, finally rearranging some perennials to more suitable spots.
But then I'm back to the next years: I will pick more Swiss chard throughout the year so I'm not picking it all under threat of freeze. I will do a better job of recording what I put where so I know what's what in spring. I'll start my seedlings earlier, I'll dutifully deadhead, and finally tackle that corner of dueling invasive spreaders. No really. Maybe.
This year's biggest challenge is on pace to still be next year's: Finish the back-yard pathways around the raised beds. After a flourishing start, the project hit a snag and is now stalled. Since one of its side effects is an enormous dirt pile where my tomato bed usually is, I've got some incentive to make inroads before next planting season.
And when that's finished, who knows, maybe in some year I'll learn not to overcrowd and will vanquish harebells. Anything's possible, next year.
What's on your next year's wish list? And what accomplishments did you get to cross off your garden bucket list?
What's your least favorite weed?
This year, a form of bindweed is topping my list of unwelcome garden greenery. It's a fairly recent invader that made the jump from not far away, and it's creeping its way around my alley garden, even creeping up other weeds. How embarrassing is it when your weeds are weedy?
A few weeks of not being able to get into the garden have left me with a laundry list of usual suspects, including prostrate spurge, purslane, clover, volunteer elms and maples and whatever that thing is that looks like some variety of pigweed. All those are fairly easy to pull, especially after all the recent rains, but that bindweed is annoying to unravel once it's snuck its way around lilies.
What's on your list of least favorite weeds? And do you know what it's called? (I spent some time online trying to find the actual name (not profane) of one of the weeds I was battling.)
Now that the fun stuff (planting flowers and veggies) is mostly done, there's a bigger chore looming in my landscape. Banishing the buckthorn, that nasty invasive that eventually conquers every spot it sprouts.
I hate this chore, in part, because I've been such a failure at it. I didn't even know what buckthorn was when it first started appearing in my yard a few years ago. But it sure was aggressive. Once I figured out what I was dealing with, I hired a guy with a chainsaw to cut it down. He advised me to paint the stumps with Roundup, which I didn't do. I have kids and dogs and hate using toxic chemicals.
I was shocked to see how fast and how vigorously the buckthorn returned. The next year, I rented a chainsaw myself and hacked the buckthorn down to the stumps. Then my husband and I spent two hours trying, in vain, to dig them up. Those suckers were so deeply rooted we couldn't budge them. Finally my husband said he'd heard you could rent a machine to pull out the stumps. I was more than happy to put down my shovel. But life got busy, and we never got around to renting that machine.
Now my buckthorn is back with a vengeance, bigger and badder than ever, in more places. It's definitely chainsaw time again, but this time, I'm resolved to finish the job. I've since been told the stump-pulling machines aren't very effective, and that chemicals are the only way to go.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has a lot of information about buckthorn on its website (http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/terrestrialplants/woody/buckthorn/control.html)
How do YOU beat buckthorn? What's worked and what hasn't? And is it your least-favorite chore, or is there one you hate even more?
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