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Do You See What I See

Two back-to-back sunny days in Minnesota encouraged me this morning to head outside to take one last peek at what our 1/2 acre back yard was doing this time of year.

Seeing “green” is not a good thing for us — mainly because we don’t really have evergreen trees that are healthy and growing. So, when I saw this patch of green ahead in the trail I knew exactly what it was — the noxious garlic mustard plant in its first year.

First Year Garlic Mustard Plant

First Year Garlic Mustard Plant

As I walked around, I saw that I had small groupings of this weed throughout sections of the property but I was quite happy when I stopped in the area where I spent hours this past summer pulling the 2nd year plant as there were no 1st year plants growing there.  Yes!! This means I pulled the plants before the seeds were able to fall to the ground.

First Year Garlic Mustard Plant

First Year Garlic Mustard Plant

The plant, uh, weed sure is pretty though with its kidney shaped leaves. If I didn’t kill it, the plant would stay green all winter (assuming the snow didn’t cover it completely), grow 3-4 feet and produce small white flowers that eventually would have seed pods that fall to the ground and grow many more weeds.

First Year Garlic Mustard Plant

First Year Garlic Mustard Plant

So — with the pesticide in hand, I promptly started spraying the plants wherever I saw them. It was quite a windy day though so I had to make sure the pesticide didn’t touch other plants or bushes or I’d kill them also. There was one patch next to the house where I was not able to spray because the bushes and garlic mustard plant were too close.

The pesticide I used is called Ultra Kill, Weed & Grass Killer.

Ultra Kill, Weed & Grass Killer

Ultra Kill, Weed & Grass Killer

I tried very hard not to use pesticides but there comes a time when you have to do what you have to do. Pulling up these 1st year plants would have meant having to dig them up as opposed to pulling them up — way too much trouble. I guess I could have waited til next year when the plant was larger but then I risk the seeds falling to the ground before I remove it.

And — look what I found in the midst of some garlic mustard plant groupings … do you see what I see?

Young Buckthorn Plant

Young Buckthorn Plant

Yup. A young buckthorn plant. Fortunately, these weeds pull up quite easily whether they are young or old. I pulled some up but also sprayed some of the larger ones.

I doubt I’ll head back into the yard to spray any more weeds this year, however, I may head out to clean up large branches that keep falling from the trees so that next year’s cleanup will be easier because …

My husband and I recently attended two evening classes on garden design so that next year we can start planting Minnesota native plants to replace the weeds. Do you know what I learned? I was a little disappointed but mainly because my expectations and the classes’ expectations were a little different.

Being in a “tech” family, I expected to arrive at class, sit in front of a computer and design my backyard for next year. Instead, we arrived at class, watched a slide show on sustainability (not too bad) and then we were handed graph paper to plot out our yard. Graph paper? A tad low-tech for me.

The class was held by Master Gardeners which was okay but they really didn’t have very many ideas for our property which really seems to have 2 seasons — the leaf season and the snow season.  (laughing)  

But, like a good student, I did as I was told and bought graph paper, tracing paper, a ruler, pencils then proceeded to measure our yard and plot the locations where all the trees are — a tedious task since we live on a wooded lot. But, hey, that’s okay.

My hopes are to either 1) find free software on garden design or 2) see if a nursery has a free design service if we purchase our plants through them. Do you suppose my expectations are too high again?

Only time will tell. This winter, I’ll have to do a lot of exercises for my back in preparation for a LOT of yard work come spring.

 

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