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Controling Invasive Species  RSS feed

 
Brandis Roush
Posts: 37
Location: Central Minnesota
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I did a quick search and couldn't find any answers pertaining to my situation (but it was quick, so I appologize if I missed my answer). I have a few questions about some of invasive volunteers I have around my yard.

First, and most perniciously annoying, is wild grape. The previous owners let about an acre of our 3 acre property go wild. We have mowed back some of it and plan to leave the rest "wild" (although there isn't much cover now, there is a lot of tall grass and shrubby things and some bush that has berries... plant identification is NOT my strong point!... but there's a lot there to attract birds and other small animals), except that the wild grape vines are taking over a lot- challenging some even established plants, like a good sized conifer (blue spruce I believe). AND it is challenging my (admittedly not permie) garden and the hugelkultur beds I am working on. I don't want to erradicate it, and I think if I can hold it back for a few years and let other things get bigger/catch up it will be kept in it's place... but where do you draw the line with something like this? I know it's a opportunist, taking over land that was overkept lawn and then ignored lawn. But I feel like if I let it go I'll have an acre of extremely well established wild grape. What would you do? We've been removing it manually, pulling out all the vines and roots that have grown along the ground under the grass, on top of the grass, up shrubs and trees, just under the soil... not a fun job (although it is kind of cathartic). I've dug out a few of the bigger, more established roots. Should I just leave it for now and see what happens? We did pull out one of the biggest patches for the hugelkulture, so maybe that will be enough?

Also- wild violets. No complaint about them, I would LOVE if they would crowd out the entire lawn, and I have never understood why people complain about them. I want to encourage MORE of them, but my husband isn't sold on this whole "no/less lawn" thing, and I could never convince him to stop mowing, and I think mowing is what keeps the violets in check. We haven't mowed yet this spring and I can tell they have really spread. Also, I've been harvesting the blossoms every morning to make violet jelly (it takes a lot of them). Should I leave some blossoms, or stop after a few days? I know with domesticated flowers you pick flowers to encourage more flowering, but will I wear out a wild species? That sounds like a dumb question now that I've said it out loud.... and the same for creeping charlie- not the blossom picking but I want to encourage it, but it mostly grows intermingled with the grass.

Lastly- what do you do about pernicious thistles? I was raised on a farm and one of our jobs as kids was spraying and/or digging musk thistles because they would crowd out pasture and cows wouldn't eat them, and they reproduce like crazy. But I'm afraid that since I was raised that way my view of them may be skewed. Is there a place for these plants? Should I allow a few to grow, perhaps plucking the flowers before they go to seed, or should I erradicate them (as my husband wants me to)?

And just generally what is your view on or what have you done about invasive species of plants?

Thanks in advance!
 
Shawn Harper
Posts: 360
Location: Portlandia, Oregon
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Well if you don't want all the free grapes my guess is a goat or pigs.
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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I try to think of all plants as hardy pioneers, hard working immigrants and other friendly terms. But I also battle the influence of people desperately trying to get rid of plant X when I was a kid. Dock for example: it can mine minerals to it's heart's content, but not at my place!
I think some plants are just too full-on, whatever we choose to call them. Many vines fit in this category for me. Jasmine, honeysuckle, wisteria....
number one nasty is bindweed. Eeeek! It's in the neighbours' place and I fear the time it makes it under the fence.
I'm unfamiliar with grapes in 'invasive' mode; they get coddled round here! If they act like a 'normal' grape I'd cut them lowish down the vine and leave the vines to dry in the trees, but it looks like they're not 'normal' and that's just maintanence...
I assume they fruit on last year's wood like domestic grapes, so to get fruit there must be a certain amount of older wood.
It looks important to make sure there's plenty of mulch/litter to prevent too much self-seeding.
I think picking all the violet flowers will only encourage them! I try to keep them away from edible gardens or they form a dense mat.
Maybe there could be a lawn compromise and your husband will agree to mow high enough so that low-growing plants don't always get their heads chopped off.
Where are the thistles? Disturbed ground? I also come from a thistle-killing backgound and I'd want to deal to them out of habit, even though I know that they're an indicator and accumulator. Maybe I'd go for another compromise and cut the flowers to stop seeding.
I'd say 'chop'n'drop' mulching will be your friend, but it's also vital to 'sell' the permie vision and many people find permaculture gardening systems look 'messy'.
I'd compromise on some stuff, but I wouldn't compromise on mulch!
 
Brandis Roush
Posts: 37
Location: Central Minnesota
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Thanks! If I got free grapes off of these vines, it would be one thing, BUT since they're growing almost exclusively on the ground (other than the one tree) I don't get any grapes, the animals get them long before I do. And the grapes it produces are small, mostly seed, and bitter. Probably could make wine from then, but not good to eat.

If I can figure out how to control them I would like to take a cutting and start a vine or two under my walnut guild.

My husband and I have talked many a time about getting a few goats to clear the brush out in that part of the yard. My concern was that the fencing required would cost too much. I did think about tethering...

I'm actually glad to hear the thistles are bio-accumulators. It's not exactly disturbed land, although the bulk of them are growing on an spot that used to be a junk heap that we just cleaned up (and that has a pile of ash on it, so I'm assuming that has altered the soil pH). Then there are several in the part of the yard we just "tamed" last summer. Are all thistles bio-accumulators? Because the ones in my yard aren't musk thistles, I just used them as an example of my and my husband's established attitude towards thistles in general.

So I can just chop and drop them before they flower, right?
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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If the grapes aren't good I wouldn't propagate them. There's so many controllable, tasty grapes out there. I'm not saying kill the grape, but it doesn't sound like the kind of thing I'd want to encourage.
Do you think it's a native grape? They appear to be valuable for wildlife. Ah, I see, wild grapes are juglone-tolerant.
Is there one main plant, or are there so many suckers that you can't even tell?
From what I know of thistles, they're very adaptable ph-wise. The taproot's a major pointer to the soil being quite compacted and the plant enjoying low fertility. As the soil's health increases, the thistles should die out. In the meantime, I'd chop'n'drop the heads (quite early as they seem to ripen seed if cut after the flowers have opened).
I'm not familiar with goats, but I did recently hear people discussing goats' uncanny ability to find ways to die...
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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wild grapes have taken over the hedgerows around here as well..might try keeping them cut back (but pruning grapes makes more grapes)..

as for the wild violets..violets are so good to eat ..i use them in salads..that I agree with keeping them..also..they will not compete with much larger plants.

as for the thistles..I'd use a weedhog on most of them to keep them under control..but make sure there are some allowed to go to seed in a hedgerow, as they are the primary food of some songbirds and some birds wait for their seed heads in order to line their nests and won't reproduce until the thistle blooms.
 
Brandis Roush
Posts: 37
Location: Central Minnesota
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There are so many runners I can't tell where the main plant is, or if there are several. I did dig out one very large root yesterday. But I think I'll leave them in the "wild" portion for the birds and just keep them from encroaching on my hugelkultur beds and garden...

Thanks for the bit about the birds- yet another reason thistles aren't 'that' bad. Do you happen to know what type of bird? We have an amazing population of birds here- I'm about as good with identifying birds as trees, but from what i know we have Cardinals, woodpeckers, yellow and red finches, the fat little black and white chickadees (honestly don't know if that's what they really are, that's just what I call them), bluebirds, robins... and of course sparrows and crows.
 
gani et se
Posts: 215
Location: Douglas County OR
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Wonder if you could graft an edible grape on to selected wild grape vines, then trellis or encourage them into trees....
Gani
 
Pamela Melcher
Posts: 299
Location: Portland, Oregon Maritime, temperate, zone 7-8.
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Thistles in smoothies are very tasty - a little like cucumbers. The prickers are liquified.

There are no poisonous thistles.

All thistles are good for the liver, and with all the pollutants, all our livers need all the help they can get.

Pamela Melcher
 
Morgan Morrigan
Posts: 1400
Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
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MN ? there are some folks up there renting out sheep and goats for clearing.

poke around, and call some feed stores. They will bring temp fence, and graze for a few days, then pack it all back up. Out here it is for fire control !

would try the grafting trick, to get some up off the ground, and obviously, the root stock is strong.
 
Rich Pasto
Posts: 100
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just a note that if you are able to cut back the leaves of any plant enough times, the root will eventually run out of energy. The best plan Ive found to eliminate an undesirable is to have it be replaced by something you want. It's a lot more work than spraying chemicals, but hey, you're not spraying chemicals on your property.
 
Max Kennedy
Posts: 483
Location: Englehart, Ontario, Canada
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In all this I don't see an overall goal for the property. If the grapes are wanted train them to a scaffold.if not chop off at the roots and compost. Violets have edible flowers for colourful salads. Thistle indeed pulls up deep minerals but is unpleasant to walk through. If you have good soil allow some growth then green mulch it before it flowers. If you have kids playing football etc then a grass lawn is OK but otherwise a wilder mix is better. What you want out of the land will determine how you approach this.
 
Varina Lakewood
Posts: 116
Location: Colorado
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Brandis Roush wrote:Also- wild violets. No complaint about them, I would LOVE if they would crowd out the entire lawn, and I have never understood why people complain about them. I want to encourage MORE of them, but my husband isn't sold on this whole "no/less lawn" thing, and I could never convince him to stop mowing, and I think mowing is what keeps the violets in check. We haven't mowed yet this spring and I can tell they have really spread. Also, I've been harvesting the blossoms every morning to make violet jelly (it takes a lot of them). Should I leave some blossoms, or stop after a few days? I know with domesticated flowers you pick flowers to encourage more flowering, but will I wear out a wild species? That sounds like a dumb question now that I've said it out loud.... and the same for creeping charlie- not the blossom picking but I want to encourage it, but it mostly grows intermingled with the grass.


If you have some violets not in the lawn, collect the seed and sprinkle it where you want them to grow. Though they will actually 'throw' seed about three feet if not mowed. They have taken over our front flowerbed by this method and are creeping into the lawn. Violas do this too! I actually need to dig out some violets and violas where they are invading the lawn before my dad notices and gets upset.
Though, <laugh>, I'd be just as happy to let the violets and mint take over the lawn. The violets crowd out weeds like nobody's business. It's great. Where we have violets, we barely have to weed. The longer they've been there, the fewer weeds. And of course, mint smells wonderful when mowed.
 
Pamela Melcher
Posts: 299
Location: Portland, Oregon Maritime, temperate, zone 7-8.
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Varina and others plagued by bindweed.

Paul Wheatpn just sent out an email with a podcast about how he beat bindweed. He got rid of a big patch in 3 weeks just by staying on it every day. It is podcast #163. Nice to know. I can do that. Good luck. I was getting massively discouraged by hearing how folks could not get rid of it.

I wonder if Paul keeps tabs on what folks are posting? That would be nice. Anyway, I was happy to hear his story

Pamela Melcher
 
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