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How to incorp/use MASSIVE WISTERIA overtake

 
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Hello! We live in ATL and are in the process of transforming our large urban lot into a food forest. Currently we’re at the unsexy, but very necessary, prep portion Thankfully much of our land is clear-ish, but almost half of our land plot is covered in forest overrun with wisteria- more like choked out with wisteria. Huge, thick, many vines. Wrapped around massive trees and popping out from long underground connections. We have a hard enough time trying to manage the vines that have infiltrated our “clear-ish” space, but in hoping to use the back lot- what do we do??? I’m reading Gaia’s Garden and deep breathing, trying to embrace that this isn’t an invasive species but rather an opportunistic one. So in that vein I’m asking for suggestions of how to #1 get it to a manageable place without damaging the land too much? #2 I know it’s a nitrogen fixer, but it’s hurting more than it’s helping (especially when I can plant other manageable N fixers) so is there a way to inhibit the growth? As in, it has opportunity now because there is a niche, so how do I fulfill it otherwise? I would assume plant other N fixers, but I’ve read that only will stop it from blooming. #3 I’m accepting I will never full eradicate it, how do we live in harmony- or as close to?  Please help<3 Thanks!
 
gardener
Posts: 3757
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
1375
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Welcome to permies, W Scott!

I have 3 suggestions for you: 1. Prune and strip the leaves off as you do as the leaves make great mulch.
2. Prune harder and more often.
3. Prune right back to the main stem and let it regrow from there.

Sorry I can't be more helpful! I have one that was climbing our back deck when we bought the house and I had no idea just how severely the previous owners must have been pruning it. Do watch out for new suckers as I find the plant pretty sneaky and it's much easier to kill small babies. I don't really want to kill it - the flowers are lovely and attract bees. I've never seen it germinate any of the few seeds it makes, and it really will tolerate my son "pruning" it with a machete and simply put out new growth. Most of the leaves I can get for mulching veggie beds are from raking leaves that have fallen on our lawn which is a polyculture with seed heads I'd rather not introduce to my beds. But I can prune the Wisteria at *any* time of the year, strip the leaves and there won't be weed seeds. An attached branch that touches the ground will root, but I've not had chopped branches root, although I usually have chopped them into 3 foot or smaller lengths. If you're willing to burn a few fossil fuels, I'd consider using a chipper/shredder to deal with the first major prune.
 
W Scott
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Good call Jay! I’m def going to try removing the leaves this coming year. And keep on prune, prune, pruning
 
W Scott
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And thanks for the welcome!
 
pollinator
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Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Any branches that touch the ground will readily root. This is likely how it spreads over such a wide area.

As a starting point, consider aggressively cutting back main stems to ground level. This will give you a lot more light and reduce the choking of other plants. Then regular pruning of new growth to keep it from exploding again.

Can you keep goats in that area?
 
pollinator
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Location: Worcestershire, England
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If you hack it right back it will probably reappear anyway. At one of the houses I work at there was a big wisteria taken down a year or two before I started working there, I have been working there for 4 years now. Last summer there was still a new shoot trying to make an appearance.
 
Jay Angler
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Location: Pacific Wet Coast
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I had another thought about dealing with all the biomass the first pruning will generate:

Consider visiting and reading the biochar forum - https://permies.com/f/190/biochar  - building a burner or digging a trench, and ending up with char that will help improve the soil productivity on your property. In our wet winters, I incorporate fresh char into the bedding of our chickens and ducks so it will suck up nutrients and microbes and eventually it will get transferred to areas where I'm building soil. Biochar is carbon and helps to reduce our "carbon footprint" by putting carbon back into a stable/storage form, but I do wear a mask when handling it as the dust isn't good for my lungs.
 
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