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Garlic Mustard- Can my enemy also be an enemy to my other enemy, and therefore my frienemy?

 
Posts: 63
Location: 5b Ontario
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Apologies if this is in the wrong area. And for the rambling.

Besides my annual hobby of thinking up new ways in which to eat it, I have started wondering if it's worth it to have garlic mustard in some areas of my urban backyard. I am in southern Ontario, and my (old) urban sloping city lot is treed at the back and backs out against a large, partly forested greenspace, which has all it's small brush cut down annually and gets routinely mowed over by the city juuusstt enough times to leave my invasive enemy as the most oppourtunistic producer (along with his other perennial friends, Dandelion and Thistle.) The garlic mustard crops up every year while all my other perennial plants are still sleeping, and likes to try to bunker down and push out the more local or other non-invasive flora I have been trying to grow between the trees.

As a side note, I have neighbours on both sides, one that is friendly and likes plants and animals, and one that hates life and all things in it who prefers to spray his yard with poisons and throw his shoes at the birds in his trees. I'll get back to this in a minute.

The weather is getting nice enough now that I've been out there a little bit the last two weeks, harvesting garlic mustards again from between my trees and bushes,  but I noticed that this year it's managed to plant itself into two of my basement window wells. There's naught but crushed rock and pea gravel in them- I routinely suck up leaf litter or anything else that blows into there. It got me thinking today though, I mean, it demands my respect, that it can grow in nothing! I also know that it emits phytotoxins that inhibit other plant growth, and that really got me thinking into dealing with this invasive weed and whether I could try to use it to my advantage.

Back to the neighbours, the one that's awful has a yard full of stuff that is as bullish and unfriendly as himself. This includes terribly invasive wisteria vines he planted to cover his borer-infected ash tree along the fenceline (Ahh yes, responsible stewarding by leaving his trees infected instead of cutting them down as required. And then covering them with invasive vines that eat trees... and sheds... and houses....)

My fenceline along the curmudgeon-side has a trench of pea gravel and crushed rock that controls and directs water runoff along that side. Arguably nothing can grow there, although I still have routine digging and pruning maintenance over the wisteria suckers that manage to crop up through it. My idea was if it would be worth it to relocate some of the garlic mustard that I pull to the west fenceline, right into the gravel.  I have no idea if the garlic mustard would be able to withstand the wisteria or fight it off, but since it's growing in 3 of my window wells right now, which have nothing in them but rocks, it seems like it might be able to tough it out.

Would the hormones from the garlic mustard roots hold the wisteria roots at bay?
Or alternatively, would I just have given future me a bigger problem of an amplified garlic mustard invasion as it takes over my vegetables?

I've been trying to google search the specifics of the phytotoxins in garlic mustard and how they interact with soils/ plants to inhibit other growth, but I can't seem to find much detailed chemical information to see if it would work against the wisteria.

Has anyone had success with using a miserable weed (or other) to their advantage against yet another terrible plant? I collect black walnuts from an artist whose workshops I attend in the autumn (just to eat some and make black dye from the outer casings) and I often think about how the juglone from the black walnut tree repels most other plants. While I definitely don't have the space for a beautiful black walnut tree along my fenceline, I am awfully curious about the potential uses for allelopathic plants in controlling other unwanted growth. If I thought fennel would survive in my gravel trench, I would give that a go. lol.
 
pollinator
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Ah, got to admire such hearty weeds (I use that word with the utmost respect).

Wysteria runs underground until it finds opportunistic light. 20 feet or more. I don't think garlic will do much except make the wysteria run further faster.

A pot belly pig might be your best bet.
 
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I have done something similar with Russian Comfrey (a sterile cultivar) to block invasive groundcover from my neighbour's yard. Less risky than mustard garlic (which, as you probably know, is endangering our forests ) and it forms a fairly thick root barrier and lots of shade.

Some of the invasive weeds still find a way, but it's a lot more manageable. And the comfrey is useful as a chop and drop mulch and overall nutriment concentrator. (Plus my daughters learned about comfrey being used as medicine in a book about medieval knights and now believe in the instant and absolute healing force of comfrey for the thousand scraps and bumps kids get in summer!)
 
pollinator
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Kena Landry wrote: (Plus my daughters learned about comfrey being used as medicine in a book about medieval knights and now believe in the instant and absolute healing force of comfrey for the thousand scraps and bumps kids get in summer!)


Right, the German name Beinwell means "bone healer", I read that as a teenager but have never experimented with the plant (and I don't think I found it foraging, plenty of other medicinal herbs though).

And interesting for me to learn that garlic mustard is considered invasive in North America. It is a native here and has its own specific butterfly caterpillar that feeds on it.
 
Kena Landry
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Anita Martin wrote:

Kena Landry wrote: (Plus my daughters learned about comfrey being used as medicine in a book about medieval knights and now believe in the instant and absolute healing force of comfrey for the thousand scraps and bumps kids get in summer!)


Right, the German name Beinwell means "bone healer", I read that as a teenager but have never experimented with the plant (and I don't think I found it foraging, plenty of other medicinal herbs though).

And interesting for me to learn that garlic mustard is considered invasive in North America. It is a native here and has its own specific butterfly caterpillar that feeds on it.




In French, Comfrey is "Consoude", from "qui soude" meaning "that which welds". And it's been scientifically proven to have some healing properties.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3580139/

And yes, garlic mustard is a new invasive for us. In maple forests, specifically, it is pushing out other species. And since deer don't like to graze for it, it has a clear competitive advantage. There are campaigns to identify it in forests and have volunteers tear it out before it gains too much traction in Quebec (Southern Ontario has given up already, I think)
 
Sionainn Cailís
Posts: 63
Location: 5b Ontario
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Kena Landry wrote:I have done something similar with Russian Comfrey (a sterile cultivar) to block invasive groundcover from my neighbour's yard. Less risky than mustard garlic (which, as you probably know, is endangering our forests ) and it forms a fairly thick root barrier and lots of shade.

Some of the invasive weeds still find a way, but it's a lot more manageable. And the comfrey is useful as a chop and drop mulch and overall nutriment concentrator. (Plus my daughters learned about comfrey being used as medicine in a book about medieval knights and now believe in the instant and absolute healing force of comfrey for the thousand scraps and bumps kids get in summer!)



That is very interesting, Kena! I haven't seen comfrey for sale (in any form) but I see a lot of reference to it on this site. Would probably be worth my while to get it. Lol. I am really a bleeder, so leaves with vitamin K would be quite useful to staunch cuts.

I wonder if it does well in full shade/heavy clay soil. Although we are still planning to move so  if I find seeds I might keep them for the next place. (We were supposed to relocate this year, but with stuff it was pushed again. In theory will be next year lol. Lets see how that pans out now that this pandemic was thrown onto the mix.)
 
Sionainn Cailís
Posts: 63
Location: 5b Ontario
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Kena Landry wrote:

In French, Comfrey is "Consoude", from "qui soude" meaning "that which welds". And it's been scientifically proven to have some healing properties.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3580139/

And yes, garlic mustard is a new invasive for us. In maple forests, specifically, it is pushing out other species. And since deer don't like to graze for it, it has a clear competitive advantage. There are campaigns to identify it in forests and have volunteers tear it out before it gains too much traction in Quebec (Southern Ontario has given up already, I think)



I must disagree, we here in Ontario have not entirely given up, yet, lol. I hope my original post does not give that full impression! There are normally campaigns run every year for volunteers to go pull from the forested areas. The pandemic closed many of these this spring, which is a terrible shame.

For my own situation, it is a bit different. Being part of the massive sprawl of the GTA - Hamilton area means that all parks and forests suffer terribly from sheer volume of people. Theres seven million people in this area. I am near to the northwestern edge of that most extreme urban sprawl, but I still live quite in the centre of this particular city.

Plus most city people cannot identify even a handful of trees ( or apparently even what a tomato plant looks like when they dont have a label at the garden centre), and do not understand even how modern plumbing or water treatment works, only the magic that water comes out a shiny tap and vanishes down the hole. Lol.  These people do not know there is such a thing as parks and crown land maintenance, and most would likely be distraught at the thought of getting dirty to pull plants. Or would touch poisonous things instead of the mustards. Like my beautiful cursed crowfoots ( Renoncule scélérate)
 
Kena Landry
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Comfrey is somewhat hard to find in Canada. Russian comfrey is a sterile cultivar  but it can be spread through root cuttings. The non-sterile kind is an invasive weed, so unless you are confident that you will never let it flower, you're really better off with the sterile kind. And I'm not even sure it's legal to sell it.

In Canada, I've found that prairietough.ca sells Russian comfrey root cuttings online. They have a waiting list right now, but they open pre-orders frequently. I've also found some locally from a fantastic permaculture nursery.

Once you have a few plants, you can easily unroot them, cut the root in sections and plant again. You'll soon have a lot of them. It is a very sturdy plant which will tolerate a wide range of lighting (I think it prefers shade/semi-shade, but mine is in nearly full sun and it does great). Just keep in mind that it's difficult to unroot completely once it's in place, because every little bit of root left behind will eventually turn into a full plant.

It is a fantastic soil accumulator (it can make a very potent fertilizing tea), it can feed livestock, and I find it beautiful as well (large lush leaves that come up early in the season, and delicate purple or white bell flowers ).
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