First of all I'd just like to say thank you to everyone on here; I've been cruising these forums for a long while now, and the knowledge I've found has been absolutely amazing. Problem (if you can call it that!) is the more I learn, the more questions I get, and since I've just moved, I have even more. So here's a long story short:
I grew up in the northern Missouri Ozarks and, after spending many years in the high desert, have moved only a hop skip and a jump from my family's place, as they are getting on in years. I've not been back in ages, and of all the things they need help with, the first and foremost is their property! I mean... whoa Nelly. It's turned into a jungle. A jungle that's eating the house. Think Jumangi.
The combination of rampant honeysuckle and poison ivy, tornado debris and general lack of physical ability & know-how means it's totally gotten away from them. Big time. Big problems. And as I've spent my last decade or so gardening in a high desert, and didn't garden much when I was out here (well, I did, but I basically did everything OH SO WRONG I feel like it doesn't count), I'm flabbergasted. So.
Okay, honeysuckle. It's pulling the forest literally into and onto the house, and it's got to go before it starts tearing the roof off the house. It's eaten a number of wrought iron trellises Mom has as well. Now, when I was still living there and I planted my first rosebush (more on that later) I found honeysuckle roots underground which were at least 10 inches in diameter. I hacked through them with a sharp shovel. That was...twenty-plus years ago??? I can only assume there are not only more roots this size, but that there are probably roots much larger. Can't burn the honeysuckle back, because it's tangled with both the house and the forest surrounding. Now, I can hack stuff back from the house, and hack a walkable swatch around the house (there really isn't much of one right now), and I have a friend of the family who has goats, which I was hoping to, ahem, borrow for a while so they can graze all that back. But I worry that this will basically just "prune" the honeysuckle so that it comes back even stronger. Don't want that. Is that likely to happen? Is there a something I can plant that will outdo it in its biological role (that won't in turn also go crazy)? Or, uhm, a soil additive? A particular mulch? Cool and fancy tools that can really take care of business? Or...? Anyone know what I can do?
Next, poison. *sigh* My parents are both allergic to poison ivy, which was all wound up in a shade tree in the front yard (elm, I believe). So Mama "poured a box of poison" down the roots, which of course killed the poison ivy abut also killed the tree. Turns out it was the mother tree, and she's lost a maple, redbud and a mimosa just since spring, and there are a few more looking ill. I asked her what poison, and she said "the sprinkle one that says 'poison poison' on the side" so I've no idea what she had her hands on. Any suggestions for regenerative plantings? Any idea how far unknown poison spreads? Regenerative planting or no, any idea how long unknown poisons stay in the ecosystem? (They have apples, peaches, morels, wild onion, asparagus, black raspberries and it makes my stomach churn to think of them eating them now, even though all those things are delicious. Plus they have pets and lots of wildlife.) And as far as poison ivy (also, poison sumac) goes, again, is there something I can introduce to the system to take over its biological role successfully so the family won't be tempted to just poison the earth again? Additionally, will it be harmful (air quality) to burn the tree, once sawed and removed?
Then there's that rose I mentioned earlier. It's a hybrid tea and has gone a bit wild now, as it's been totally neglected. I'm surprised it made it at all. Can't remember the name anymore, but it's mauve with a deeper tone to the edges of the leaves, with a heavenly sugared lemon/rose scent. The plant is still small, perhaps 2-1/2 ft tall by 2 ft wide and what I saw (it was getting ready to storm so I didn't get a good look) seemed as if the rose bush has now moved itself to the suckers growing immediately east of the original plant, with little to no growth on the original if I remember correctly. It too is about to be eaten by honeysuckle. Any guild/pruning/training suggestions would be most welcome, as its a beautiful color and lovely smell but I don't want to go the way of typical rose care.
There's so much to do it's overwhelming, and I want to get it under control but I want to do it in a earth/animal/pollinator/food friendly permaculture way. And as far as the honeysuckle goes, I absolutely must, must, must get it under control by the next growing season. Any and all suggestions welcome. Zone 5b, hill site but flat-ish in the front yard, very soggy ground this year, surrounded by semi-mature deciduous woodland, in case that matters.
I worry about that poison. Could you send a soil sampke for analysis? Maybe a local university would send a student or two in to take sampkes at disstances away from the original tree for testing.
I would suggest getting workawayers (www.workaway.com) to come and clear the site so you can see what you actalky have. The rose I can't help with but if you love it that much, take cuttings so that you have a backup in case something goes amiss.
Will be following with interest!
To lead a tranquil life, mind your own business and work with your hands.
Sort of inexpensive at gardening here, but following as I have a dream at least of someday moving down towards the Springfield/Ozarks area. Good luck to you, and I do think contacting a college sounds like a good idea.
Hi JJ; Welcome to Permies!
You said it and Anne said it … GOATS. They will take care of your over growth. Sadly your rose will get munched as well.... take cuttings.
Now the poison your mom dumped.. well, what will be will be. Lots of water and no more poison and eventually it will all leach away.
Is it bad for them and the animals ? Well it could be, but as long as its not being reapplied the level's will decrease. Lets face it , in the 1950-60's, dumping poison on undesirable things was the normal.
Remember DDT? or agent orange ? And of course the most modern of poison's Roundup... Yes it was and sort of still is (for the non permies) socially acceptable to kill anything we don't like with whatever nasty poison that the chemists can concoct!
We as Permies KNOW there is a better way!
JJ: Welcome to Permies! :D
A thought for finding out what poison your mom used. Take her to a few stores, get her to show you what she used. See if she can say "this one!" Might help you figure out how much you should worry about it.
I'm in Southern MO too, and the local Dept of Agriculture does soil testing, not sure if they can check for toxins (beware, they recommend toxins!) but might be worth asking.
I'm watching this thread with interest, as I have honeysuckle that is not that rampant yet, but I am going to be attempting to knock it back a bit soon.
Smart, smart. I'll get a soil sample the next time I'm there and send off, and to taking her to stores; there are only a few she actually uses. And I do have access to goats via a friend of the family but like I said, i was worried that the growth would come back even stronger next year, but either way, better them tackling the bulk of it than me. Good point about the rose also getting munched on--I have these concrete arrange-able garden pieces that I can use to block it, which I would have completely forgotten to do had it not been mentioned here. Thanks for suggestions, and keep 'em coming!
Jj, when you take soil samples use a grid and write on each sample where it came from, ask for a complete soil test with toxicology, do tell them the reason you need to know the contaminates.
Mycelium are probably going to be your best friend when it comes to remediation of the toxins (that poison will almost certainly have more than one toxin in it), I would recommend oyster spawn and perhaps some wine cap spawn, just buy plugs and stick them in the ground (go back and pull them after a month or two).
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