River Road Ramblings

Kill it before it spreads! My brother, unfortunately now deceased, used to say that jokingly when some little person was being bothersome.

Now you need to kill this nasty weed, garlic mustard, before it smothers your beautiful spring ephemerals on the hardwood forest floor near you.

I thought I had taken care of the problem on River Road last spring when I pulled six plants from two dirt piles left by the road crew. (I don't know where the dirt came from but it wasn't from our road.) This year one pile seems to be clean, but the other has lots of small plants on the back side of the bank where I did not look. As it is a biennial, this year's leaves will be next year's 3- or 4-foot monster.

A damp ditch along the road was blossoming profusely today with the tiny four-petaled, white flowers and roundish, scalloped leaves getting smaller as they go up the stem. Luckily I had brought two plastic grocery bags (they do come in handy sometimes, though I have trained myself to usually bring enough cloth bags into grocery stores) and I stuffed them full of garlic smelling greens. (Some people eat them, but whether they are good or not is debatable-Google the plant to see what you think.)

This is the critical time to pull them, before the seeds mature. If you pull and leave the plants with the taproot on, the seeds can continue to mature. Do NOT compost them. Send them to the burn plant in plastic bags. Then check your sources another time or two this year, and next spring pull again. If the plants have been there a while, it can take seven years to exhaust the seed bank. Luckily they are easy to pull when the ground is damp (no problem this year).

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