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Revitalizing the Landscape:Dealing With Invasive Species

 
Posts: 13
Location: southern Michigan
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Greeting All. I have been utilizing this amazing site as a resource for some time now and have finally decided to take the plunge, maybe even create some interesting discourse in the process.

I understand from some of Sepp's videos that the government enforced planting of lumber pine monoculture acts essentially an invasive species around there, completely transforming what was once the Pannonian mixed forests and higher altitude pine forests. Somewhat similar to that we have an invasive species:buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) in Michigan and 27 other states that is essentially doing the same thing though of their own nature and not necessarily imposed by officials. Buckthorn can do great harm to existing species, it puts out leaves earlier and keeps them well past first frost, much later than any native species besides grasses and some other very low lying species, out competing native wild flowers, tree saplings, and about everything else from my personal observations except mosses and poison ivy, not to mention destroying song bird habitat. From a disturbed area it spreads like wildfire (albeit a very slo-mo wildfire) into pre-existing ecosystems, short term(decades) this plant will take over the understory, long term it will prevent trees such as oak/hickory/maple and everything else around here from returning. Now I understand were not taught to think in this time scale, but why not? At our current rate most of this land will be covered in concrete or stripped bare for monoculture, yet at the same time the sooner its addressed the less resources it will require in the future should we all decide to change our ways. But I digress.

With the high nitrogen and carbon content of the leaves/berries it does bring in the worms, 50% more by biomass and also additional exotic species. This sentence may seal my fate here forever but when you have an ecosystem that's evolved without earthworms and their exotic cousins for at least 10,000 or so years since the recession of the glaciers its reasonable to believe that they may have a lasting impact on native species. Now earthworms did reduce the depth of the forest litter by a meter or more in many areas, churning it all up, creating organic matter at lightning speed comparatively, and making nutrients more readily available to all plants. I got a lot of respect for nightcrawlers and red wigglers, but I'm concerned that having too many species of worms might make trouble for certain native plants that aren't used to all that action in the soil.

The reason I bring this up is because my intentions have rounded yet another bend and I have begun to understand the benefits of utilizing pre-european invasion landscape conditions. Having large nut bearing trees, followed by smaller nut/fruit bearing trees, followed by berries/bushes, followed by edible/medicinal groundcover. Essentially attempting to re-establish the pre-existing environment, a tried and true template for success, but on more of a local scale with some additional species thrown in. I realize that due to the diversity of plant/insect species present at both Krameterhof and in all permaculture/polyculture environments worrying over one or two species seems slightly ridiculous, but I have to ask...

At Krameterhof is it just red wigglers being introduced as I believe I saw in the videos, or is it a worm mix of some sort?

Are there any plants that were introduced at Krameterhof that Sepp regrets planting or really just didn't work out as planned, either invasive or harboring disease/pests?
 
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Posts: 304
Location: Montana
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There are several different kinds of earthworms at the Krameterhof, and Sepp has spend more time than most breeding earthworms, so as to increase their numbers on the landscape. He call's them "natures plow." They have brandling worms (Eisenia foetida), common earthworms (Lumbricus terrestris), and red earthworms (Lumbricus rubellus). The brandling worms work the surface while the red and common reach deeper depths.

Sepp hasn't ever discussed plants or species that he introduced and after became a problem. When something is growing itself and spreading, that is exactly what he wants. He usually sees the opportunity in the resources that nature provides, rather than seeing the potentially negative species.

Nature has no "native" or "invasive" species; all of the species on our planet are in a constant state of dispersal. Species that form more connections with other species often spread further and wider, and disconnectedness is the most important measure of ecosystem productivity. Conditions on the planet are always changing, the range and reach of species changes with it. What has been growing somewhere today may not be the most well adapted for tomorrow's landscape. The anthropomorphic ecological disturbance that is currently underway, and has been rapidly accelerating in frequency and severity over the last century. This anthropomorphic change has given generalists species an adaptive edge, as they can often survive more extreme variables. I believe we need to rapidly work on spreading ecologically productive species around the planet (whether native or invasive) to ensure a productive ecosystem for the future inhabitants of the planet. Vigorous species that thrive in a wide variety of conditions provide secure abundance for a more turbulent climatic future. Vigorous species are not always labeled as "invasive species" but if a vigorous species has thorns, more than likely it is going to make it on the invasive species list. Species only dominate areas like this when there is already an imbalance in the ecosystem. More often than not it moves into the roll of an unfilled niche, that may currently exist because of previous environmental disturbance. If you are having a problem with a particular species it is most often the indicator of some type of in-balance in the ecosystem.

I've heard some Native American Medicine-men hold the belief that nature provides us what we need, when we most need it. Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica and many others) has long been used as a powerful traditional medicine. Most commonly used as a blood purifier, it doesn't taste good, but it's powerful medicine. This particular elder thought that buckthorn is being presented by nature in these times as a remedy cancers.
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