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Permaculture solutions for Scotch Broom  RSS feed

 
raven ranson
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Scotch Broom
is one of the most obvious invasive species where I live.

The local history surrounding this plant is very interesting. It's a tale of lust, homesickness, an absentee husband, two brothers, crop failure and beer. To quote myself from another thread.

The three plants brought to woo the wife of an absentee miner, did not spread as rapidly as most naturalists assume. It wasn't until the local brewery ran out of hops and needed something to bitter their beer. Broom flowers and/or shoots made a good substitute, so they encouraged the plant to grow in as many locations as humanly possible. Thus, the invasive problem of scotch broom was created.


I think broom makes a good example of human mismanagement of imported species.

There is a great deal of noise about the damage broom does, but
1. how much of the current invasiveness is the plant's fault and how much of it is human interaction?
2. Can broom be useful in certain situations?
3. Can permaculture design be used to specifically limit the damage broom does?


My thoughts:

1. I think it's about 50/50. Broom seems to prefer disturbed soil, so it's likely to go hand in hand with human altering of the land. But it is also self-seeding in park areas and undisturbed sites, albeit, more slowly.

2. Broom fixes nitrogen, but it is also my understanding that it alters other important elements in the soil, making the nutrition unavailable to other plants. Party line with local conservationists is that broom kills off all other plants, but that's not obvious from looking at broom habitat. Other plants can cohabit with it. What it does do, is destroy local ecological niches like the oak meadows. What is it doing to the soil that causes so much harm to other plants?

3. I don't know. This is where I would like to focus. We need to understand the first two questions in order to understand how to create a solution. With any luck, we can move through the problem phase of this discussion quickly, and start brainstorming some solutions for how permaculture design can limit the damage that scotch broom appears to cause.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I wanted to know what chemical changes it makes, so I found this: " Soil near C. scoparius shows a lower pH, lower levels of inorganic phosphorous (another nutrient essential for plants), and lower rates of organic decomposition as compared to similar soils without the presence of C. scoparius (Caldwell 2006). As well, Scotch Broom has been shown to release alkaloids that may inhibit the germination and protein synthesis of certain plants native to the Northwest (Haubensak et al. 2004). These traits mean that while C. scoparius may be good at withstanding hostile environments, it is also very good at creating an environment that is hostile for other plants." https://plantecology.wordpress.com/2012/05/21/hero-to-zero-scotch-broom-2/

The main damage it seems to do is change an open meadow habitat to a shrub habitat, but it's a shrub nobody wants to browse.

 
raven ranson
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Interesting about the soil changes. Thanks for posting that.

Broom is one of the favourite fodder for my sheep, goats and llamas. However, too much of it is 'supposed' to be bad for llamas, as it's too rich in nitrogen.

Animals are one method of control, but not, I think, practical for large scale situations like we have here.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Exactly where do people want to remove it? If domestic animals are not the solution, it seems as if the problem is in wild (unmanaged) habitats. Is this the case?
 
raven ranson
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There seems to be two main problems with broom here.

The wild aspect is where the publicity is focused. It invades the oak meadows and kills off the diversity of plants (I'm just parroting the party line, I'm not sure how accurate this is). There is a lot of work in parks to dig out the broom, which disturbs the soil, waking up the dormant broom seeds.

It is also a problem on private land. We see great areas of broom where the ground has been disturbed then abandoned.

On our land, it grows where our goats don't or cannot go (along the roadside for example), so we manually cut it back at least once a year, then feed it to the goats. It's pretty labour intensive as there is a lot of it. We use to dig it each spring, like you're suppose to, but we found it impossible to remove every piece of root and caused the broom to multiply and grow faster than just cutting it back.


So yes, domestic and wild habitat are both troubled by broom here. It's ubiquitous, and by far the most visible invasive plant species on our island, but I don't know how damaging it actually is. It does not seem to be as bad as this kudzu I've read about.



Human uses for broom that I know about:
- livestock fodder (limited use)
- beer (but unpopular)
- textiles (dye and as a bast fibre, but the labour required is not sufficient to justify the result)

That's all I know. None of them put broom in a positive light, nor give us an excuse to 'use it up'.

I wonder if the branches would work well in a rocket stove? They are a bit sappy and spark a lot when on a bonfire, so maybe not. Anyone know more about this?
 
raven ranson
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More thoughts on broom:

  • observing it on abandoned land (human disturbed soil, then left untended), I noticed that broom provides a framework for the native blackberries (smaller and tastier than the imported and even more invasive, Himalayan blackberries, which seem to avoid the broom in the few spots I've observed)
  • Talking with a naturalist, he says that broom likes poor soil, rocky areas, that is fairly dry and avoids rich organic matter
  • Broom is more invasive on our island than on the mainland - our island is geologically unique as it wasn't part of the big cluster of continents several million years ago.
  • which makes me think that minerals might have something to do with how invasive broom is

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    Tyler Ludens
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    R Ranson wrote: he says that broom likes poor soil, rocky areas, that is fairly dry and avoids rich organic matter


    This seems typical of many "weeds," who seem often to prefer disturbed sites. This is certainly the case for the few "weeds" here on our place, especially Thistle, which will tell you right away where things have been disturbed (mostly by human or domestic animal activity). Lately I've been spending a lot of time gathering and composting Thistle. I know that in the case of things like Scotch Broom, gathering and composting isn't much of an answer because not enough people are available to do the work. It might have been in another thread about "invasive" plants, someone mentions that if enough people were living in proper relation to the land, there wouldn't be nearly the problem with weeds and invasive plants, because people would be tending the garden.
     
    Troy Rhodes
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    They are doing interesting work in Oregon with a seed weevil that seems to help balance the scotch broom with other competitors and natives:

    http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/shrubs/broom-plants/scotch-broom-control.htm

     
    raven ranson
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    Seeing that we have an author event on right now, I'm going to bump this up to the top.

    Yesterday we removed a lot of broom, far more than my sheep can safely eat at once. They love it, but I don't like to introduce too much new food into their diet at one time.

    There's a local law that requires us to remove invasive species - it's not really enforced, but it's there so we keep up appearances near where the public goes. We usually remove the broom while it's in full flower, with the theory that all the plant's energy is focused on reproduction and it doesn't seem to have many reserves in it's roots this time of year.

    I was thinking what the heck could we do with the rest of this broom?

    It burns hot but is sappy, so if I put it in my woodstove, it creates build-up in my chimney. Maybe a rocket stove would be the answer, with it burning hot enough that the sappy stuff wouldn't be such a problem? I don't know enough about rocket stoves to say if this is true or not.
     
    leila hamaya
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    its possible to make paper out of broom.

    making a paper fiber is a lot easier than making textile fibers, as i understand it, especially if you mix it with a really good fiber, such as flax or cotton, etc...
    you can mix almost any kind of plant into a good fiber, at about 20-30%. but broom is the kind of plant that does lend itself to papermaking anyway, there is a history of it once being used to make paper.

    considering how it is here (i have a very very short list of things that i think are truly invasive, and this is definitely one) i really shouldve tried this already with better information to report, although i have not. i have at least tried to seed the idea into other people s heads, in the hopes someone will attemtp some experiments with it. it is certainly a much better option for paper fiber than any kind of wood.
     
    jacque greenleaf
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    R Ranson wrote:

    It burns hot but is sappy, so if I put it in my woodstove, it creates build-up in my chimney. Maybe a rocket stove would be the answer, with it burning hot enough that the sappy stuff wouldn't be such a problem? I don't know enough about rocket stoves to say if this is true or not.


    And this is a big reason to control it - it can do a great job of supporting wildfires.

    I like a lot of weeds, but there are good reasons to keep this one under strict management. In my area, at least, deer won't eat it, so maybe it's rent-a-goat time? Mowing keeps it down in open areas, but I'm not a bit interested in mowing the nearby forest, and there's a lot of it in there. The local salal does a pretty good job of defending its territory against the broom, but the broom seems to do a pretty good job of defending against salal incursions as well, so it's a standoff.

     
    S Bengi
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    Scotch Broom:
    fixes nitrogen
    releases inorganic phosphorous so that other plants can take it up (others see this as a horrible decrease in inorganic phosphorous)
    increases the amount of soil biomass due to increase bio-available nitrogen and phosphorous (others see this increase soil litter as slower decomposition rate)
    increases the carbon capture in living biomass by helping the area to move to the next secession level away from bare soil/herbaceous to more shrub/trees. (Others see this as something horrible and bring out the big guns to deplete the soil and revert the state of secession.
     
    Abel Kloster
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    An important piece of the conversation related to Scotch broom on the West Coast of North America is its successional role in the context of unmanaged or undermanaged oak savannah ecosystems. Its often found in highly disturbed ecoystems (like clearcuts), but is also found in what are often considered "undisturbed" ecosystems like oak savannahs. However, if you look into the work of M. Kat Anderson (in California) and Nancy Turner (in BC), its evident that the oak savannah ecosystem is one that was wholly created and maintained by people for a wide variety of yields - food, fodder, and medicinal crops. Removing indigenous people from their historic lands and land management practices has changed the ecosystems of the Pacific Northwest (and beyond) in profound ways, and I see Scotch broom as part of that unfortunate story. Management of oak savannah ecosystems was based on sophisticated application of directed successional management to achieve yields of different crops (camas management regimes are different from salal, which are different from tarweed, etc.) All of them involved directing succession by introducing moderate disturbance like low-intensity burning or provision of fodder for ruminants (deer and elk mostly). Lack of successional management today means that these ecosystems are moving forward in their successional trajectory, with the understory moving from grasses/forbs to shrubs (in many cases Scotch broom). So, if we want to preserve and/or restore the characteristics of the oak savannah ecosystem, we have to investigate means of reintroducing periodic moderate disturbance that facilitates the type of understory vegetation we'd like to see. Prescribed fire is a good option, though not feasible everywhere. The well-timed application of the digestive "fire" of domestic ruminants can also be helpful. If not, hand management does work, it just takes time. Scotch broom (before it goes to seed) makes great compost, and as other commenters have mentioned, can be fed to livestock either directly through grazing or cutting and feeding. With all invasive species, I like to think about how we can enhance succession by doing what they're doing anyway a little bit faster - we can move along the process that they are there doing anyway. Usually this involves building soil organic matter and mineral/nutrient profile to the point where other types of species proliferate. Scotch broom won't last forever, and eventually the role that its playing in ecosystems will no longer be "needed" by what is coming next. Its up to us to figure out what that next layer is going to be, and move our management regime toward accomplishing that goal. Your management plan is going to be different depending on whether you want the spot currently covered by Scotch broom to be native bunchgrass, multi-species food forest, or annual vegetable garden, but all of these are possible to achieve using sound holistic land management practices.
     
    Tao Orion
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    Hi all,
    I'm still trying to figure out how to navigate this forum, and wanted to let you know that I wrote the comment above, though it appeared that I was logged in as my husband Abel Kloster at the time. I look forward to hearing more of your thoughts/questions about Scotch broom or other invasive species!
     
    Dale Hodgins
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    I will dig around later and try to find some older post that I've written on my success in eliminating broom in a few areas. It's one of the easier invasives to deal with on Vancouver Island. Nothing that I've read in any government report has been helpful. They advocate ripping it out, which causes erosion and causes the perfect conditions for growth of new broom.

    My road is 1.2 kilometres long. I dealt with all of the broom on both sides of that road within two seasons, using far less labor than if I had tried to pull it out. I cut it back with my loppers so that the broom plants looked a bit like Joshua trees. The cut off limbs are used to mulch desired species. This gives the new trees a boost in nitrogen and it shades the soil from the sun. Once trees are eight or ten feet tall, they can fend for themselves and the broom is soon shaded out.

    The idea of gathering up all of the broom to prevent it adding to the seed bank, is a ridiculous notion. Broom seeds persist in the environment for up to 80 years. They are present in every spot where it has a chance of growing. Whenever conditions are suitable it will spring up.

    We have only one nitrogen producing tree, the red alder. Lightning is rare here, so red alder and broom are our two most important nitrogen fixers. Although broom can interfere with reforestation on south-facing slopes and in very dry areas, I'm not convinced that it does much harm in the long run. Areas that are too dry for red alder to thrive, tend to be the favorite location for broom to take root. Thus we have a nitrogen-fixing plant in almost all locations.

    It has been shown that Douglas fir stands that grew up quickly without having red Alder in the succession, run out of nitrogen before the 80 year mark. After this, they grow extremely slowly due to an acute nitrogen shortage. Rotting broom can help with this.

    I have no desire to completely eliminate broom on my land. I have it under complete control, and most of my land is south facing slope, the type of area where it is most commonly problematic.

    One more positive item. It is an excellent fire starter.
     
    raven ranson
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    jacque greenleaf wrote:
    R Ranson wrote:

    It burns hot but is sappy, so if I put it in my woodstove, it creates build-up in my chimney. Maybe a rocket stove would be the answer, with it burning hot enough that the sappy stuff wouldn't be such a problem? I don't know enough about rocket stoves to say if this is true or not.


    And this is a big reason to control it - it can do a great job of supporting wildfires.



    I didn't even think about this. Considering we've just about had our last rain until mid-October (if this year is 'normal'), wildfires are a big concern. Even more motivation to find ways to limit the amount of broom.
     
    Jenny Barnes
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    In Suffolk, on the East coast of the UK, broom is a native plant. It doesn't appear to be invasive here, and in fact is sold in garden centres. The soil there is about as sandy as you can get, with scarcely any topsoil. I came across this website which details ancient botanical uses. I love the description "And is a shrub that growyth in a place that is forsaken, stony and untylthed. Presence thereof is witnesse that the ground is bareyne and drye that it groweth in. And hath many braunches knotty and hard."

    I think there having something which thrives despite the poor soil is considered to be an advantage. I would imagine that the only way to control it would be to improve the soil.

    Further, the website gives these uses:
    "The Broom has been put to many uses. When planted on the sides of steep banks, its roots serve to hold the earth together. On some parts of our coast, it is one of the first plants that grow on the sand-dunes after they have been somewhat consolidated on the surface by the interlacing stems of the mat grasses and other sand-binding plants. It will flourish within reach of sea spray, and, like gorse, is a good sheltering plant for sea-side growth.

    Broom is grown extensively as a shelter for game, and also in fresh plantations among more important species of shrubs, to protect them from the wind till fully established.

    The shrub seldom grows large enough to furnish useful wood, but when its stem acquires sufficient size, it is beautifully veined, and being very hard, furnishes the cabinetmaker with most valuable material for veneering.

    The twigs and branches are serviceable not only for making brooms, but are also used for basket-work, especially in the island of Madeira. They are sometimes used in the north of England and Scotland for thatching cottages and cornricks, and as substitutes for reeds in making fences or screens.

    The bark of the Common Broom yields an excellent fibre, finer but not so strong as that of the Spanish Broom, which has been employed from very ancient times- it is easily separated by macerating the twigs in water like flax. From the large quantity of fibrous matter contained, the shoots have been used in the manufacture of paper and cloth.

    Tannin exists in considerable amount in the bark, which has been used in former times for tanning leather.

    Before the introduction of Hops, the tender Freen tops were often used to communicate a bitter flavour to beer, and to render it more intoxicating.

    Gerard says of the Broom:
    'The common Broom groweth almost everywhere in dry pastures and low woods. It flowers at the end of April or May, and then the young buds of the flowers are to be gathered and laid in pickle or salt, which afterwards being washed or boiled are used for sallads as capers be and be eaten with no less delight.'

    Broom buds were evidently a favourite delicacy, for they appeared on three separate tables at the Coronation feast of James II."
     
    Chris MacCarlson
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    Tao brings up a great point about origins of diversity and ecological change in North American ecosystems.
    Removing indigenous people from their historic lands and land management practices has changed the ecosystems of the Pacific Northwest (and beyond) in profound ways, and I see Scotch broom as part of that unfortunate story


    Humans have been the primary force of change in the environment for millennia. Original Americans shaped their ecosystems in ways that created and maintained much of the habitat diversity, sometimes with precision and success, sometimes with blunt tools that could have unintended consequences. They didn't do it because natural living was their preferred lifestyle, they did it to survive, and did so using the tools, plants, and cultural understanding of the world prevalent at the time.

    We modern Americans do exactly the same, but in an entirely different context of the tools, plants, and cultural tradition. One of the biggest change in culture between these two traditions, is that we no longer (with exceptions) depend on native plants for food, medicine, or fiber. Instead, native plants are somehow seen as special, or even sacred, which should be looked at but not touched, rather than useful parts of the human economy. Ironic result of the environmental movement.

    Is it really any wonder many people don't care about the potential negative impacts of newly introduced species, and focus instead on 'how useful this strange plant from Eurasia could be'?
     
    Mark Blackburn
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    Hello Tao - Can you share some ideas about controlling Scotch Broom from a permaculture perspective?

    I'd heard that the seed pods can be brined similar to capers. I think I might try them this Summer, but I need a few more ideas.

    Thank you for joining us on permies.com and sharing your ideas.
     
    Mark Blackburn
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    Thank you it does help. And just in the nick of time. It looks like the flower buds are what I should be picking and not the seed pods. There are lots of pretty yellow flowers all about. I am behind the curve, but maybe there is still time.
     
    Julia Winter
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    Dale Hodgins wrote:I will dig around later and try to find some older post that I've written on my success in eliminating broom in a few areas. It's one of the easier invasives to deal with on Vancouver Island. Nothing that I've read in any government report has been helpful. They advocate ripping it out, which causes erosion and causes the perfect conditions for growth of new broom.

    My road is 1.2 kilometres long. I dealt with all of the broom on both sides of that road within two seasons, using far less labor than if I had tried to pull it out. I cut it back with my loppers so that the broom plants looked a bit like Joshua trees. The cut off limbs are used to mulch desired species. This gives the new trees a boost in nitrogen and it shades the soil from the sun. Once trees are eight or ten feet tall, they can fend for themselves and the broom is soon shaded out.


    This sounds like an excellent permaculture solution to too much broom. So, you plant in trees that you want, and "chop and drop" the greens from the broom shrubs, laying the decapitated branches on the ground next to your (favored) baby trees to mulch them and feed them. The broom will make more branches, which you will go back in and remove and again lay down at the trunks of your preferred trees. Or, I suppose you don't have to plant the preferred trees, you might have them there already. You're just giving them a helping hand. *This* is how to deal with broom.

    In my experience, the best way to control an over-exuberant species is to set it up with competition, and keep leaning on the plant you don't like. Nature abhors a vacuum so it's a bad idea to try to "clear out" an area, you're just creating the conditions for more hardy pioneer species.
     
    raven ranson
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    I like that chop and drop idea. I've noticed if we can get the broom just before it flowers, then it is less likely to grow back.

    Is there a way to reduce the wildfire risk with broom? Spread it out over more area, or keep it confined?
     
    Tyler Ludens
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    R Ranson wrote:
    Is there a way to reduce the wildfire risk with broom? Spread it out over more area, or keep it confined?


    As I understand it, in general, clumps or heaps of flammables provide less fire danger than spread out flammables. For instance a dense pile of dead trees is much less fire danger than standing dead trees dotted about. Mollison goes into fire prevention quite a bit in the Designers Manual.

     
    Nova Lewis
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    jacque greenleaf wrote:
    R Ranson wrote:

    It burns hot but is sappy, so if I put it in my woodstove, it creates build-up in my chimney. Maybe a rocket stove would be the answer, with it burning hot enough that the sappy stuff wouldn't be such a problem? I don't know enough about rocket stoves to say if this is true or not.


    And this is a big reason to control it - it can do a great job of supporting wildfires.



    Don't burn scotch broom. It contains nicotine. My husband and his stepfather once burned a slash pile of it and when to the hospital with nicotine poisoning. You might be able to get away with burning a small amount, but why risk it?
     
    M.K. Dorje Jr.
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    sepp holzer uses broom as a companion plant for chestnut trees. He actually plants broom seeds next to his chestnuts! However, in the Pacific Northwest, I would not recommend planting broom for any reason! On my farm, I cut the broom in the late winter and early spring, then use it to mulch my chestnuts, filberts and pawpaw trees. Pawpaws seem to love it and my seedling pawpaws began flowering and fruiting after a few years of mulching with Scotch broom.
    I would like to hear more about the seed weevil and if they actually help control the spread of this plant in the Northwest. (Also, does the broom weevil eat pea seeds?- I have a terrible problem with weevils in my pea seeds when I try saving them.) Anyone out there have experience with "Broom weevils" as a beneficial insect?
     
    Camille Peterson
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    M.K. Dorje Jr. wrote: I would like to hear more about the seed weevil and if they actually help control the spread of this plant in the Northwest. (Also, does the broom weevil eat pea seeds?- I have a terrible problem with weevils in my pea seeds when I try saving them.) Anyone out there have experience with "Broom weevils" as a beneficial insect?


    I recently began working in the office of my local noxious weeds board in Washington state. We just released another set of broom weevils today. They have been employing this tactic for at least five years. Technically it is expected that the weevils will do in the plant, however, this has not been the norm as of yet. While they are over-wintering well it is suspected we simply haven't reached a high enough ratio of weevils to plants. Apparently they have been effective in slowing, if not eliminating, the spread of scotch broom. A step in the right direction for these parts. The weevil babies eat the seeds and I was told they are specific to brooms and only brooms.

    Helped a friend clear their ditches of these last year. Made the mistake of burning them. They went up as fast and hot as tumbleweeds.Thank goodness it wasn't a huge pile!

    Hope that helps. If you have specific questions, I can make it a point to get them answered for you. I'll pick the bosses brain about the peas this weekend.
     
    M.K. Dorje Jr.
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    Thank you Camille. I'm interested in hearing more about these weevils, and just how effective they might be as a long-term control solution for these plants. But I also want to make sure these beneficial insects (weevils) don't wind up causing a whole new set of problems.
     
    Rita Vail
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    Reading about the history of the fire in Bandon on the Oregon coast has affected my opinion of broom: http://www.offbeatoregon.com/H1011d-bandon-founder-favorite-plant-destroyed-his-town.html

    You must read this if you ever think of planting or encouraging it.
     
    Dale Hodgins
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    The environment at my place is wet enough that even gravely south facing slopes, will eventually grow trees. Trees are the natural enemy of Scotch broom, since it likes to have full sun.

    Today I'm working at a house on the edge of a gravel pit. The extremely well drained nature of this site and the lack of soil nutrient, makes it an ideal location for broom. 20 feet into the forest that surrounds this pit, there is no broom at all. It can be much more problematic in areas that would naturally be grassland or meadow, because without large trees in the succession, there is nothing to break a cycle of continuous broom growth.
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    20160428_175026.jpg
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    Dale Hodgins
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    Just beyond the pit, on the other side of the house, there is enough soil moisture to support dogwood and other full grown trees. Broom has no chance amongst these trees.
    20160428_143712.jpg
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    Hans Quistorff
    pollinator
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    Location: Longbranch, WA
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    I will repeat some previous comments then go take some pictures of my observation of succession.
    Goats never bothered mature scotch broom probably because it was less desirable than other abundant browse. I think the sheep always ate all the newly sprouted plants because it never invaded their fields even though it was on the other side of the fence throwing seed. It seems to be medicinal for coccidiosis in rabbit livers. Mowing grass and feeding it in mangers I began to get bad livers; when I added scotch broom the livers cleared in just a few weeks.
    In my habitat it gets 8 to 10 feet tall at maturity and about 3 inches in diameter; after that it begins to die back and for a while the dying canopy makes a deep shade where nothing grows then trees begin to emerge in open spots. To remove a mature stand and return it to pasture I have been cutting the tops off with loppers and using it as mulch to shade out other undesirable plants then coming back later with larger loppers to remove the large trunks for fire wood. I don't have a rocket stove yet but the way it burns when dry should be very good in a rocket stove. For fire starting it is the second wood I put on after the cedar kindling.
     
    Hans Quistorff
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    Here I the quick synopsis of the succession I am making on the edges of my scotch broom. Sorry I reversed the names on the files from the thumbnails they looked the same.
    broom blackberry.JPG
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    The himalayan blackberries will over top the scotch broom eventualy
    broom hymalaya.JPG
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    This is what Ranson described native or imported by the Salish?
    broom forest interior.JPG
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    If I lop these off without disturbing the soil the grass regrows
     
    Hans Quistorff
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    Just a quick contrast between a scotch broom root after it has been cut off and later pulled out verses a Himalayan blackberry crown that has been cut back three times and then pried up with my broadfork. any small pieces of this root that break off when I pull it out will grow back.
    broom root.JPG
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    may look strange but it is weighing down a fruit branch to horizontal
    Hymalaya root.JPG
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    Capable of sending up 1"diamiter vine after being cut to ground
     
    Camille Peterson
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    Location: Woodland, United States
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    M.K. Dorje Jr. wrote:Thank you Camille. I'm interested in hearing more about these weevils, and just how effective they might be as a long-term control solution for these plants. But I also want to make sure these beneficial insects (weevils) don't wind up causing a whole new set of problems.


    Picked my bosses brain at length today. You are right to proceed with caution. However, there are some beneficial insect options which have been tested by the USDA to ensure that they are indeed solving problems without causing others. It is entirely too easy to order something that would bring regret into play later on. We have been releasing bruchidius villosus. These feed on brooms and only brooms. Your peas would be just fine. I have no idea how they would do in another area. Her suggestion was that you touch base with your local noxious weed office and see what they might be utilizing. As I mentioned before, at this point we are seeing an elimination of spread, or at the very least a great reduction in spread, of scotch broom. In theory these weevils will do in the plants but we have not experienced that yet. With as much broom as we have, I suspect it would take a much larger weevil population to bring that about. Hope that helps at least some.
     
    Ed Mulhern
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    This is being a very helpful thread. We recently acquired acreage, in Oregon’s Williamette valley area, that has large patches of broom. We are considering using broom that we cut as fill material in a hugelkultur. At question is how deep to bury it to minimize risk of introducing broom in pasture areas where the hugelkultur will be located. Does anyone have experience with this.? P.S. we would be cutting prior to seed production, but I notice that there are seed pods from previous years that is still attached or otherwise tangled in the branches of the broom stands - hence my concern.
     
    Susan Lenore Stanley
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    Location: SW Washington State; Latitude 47; elevation about 475'
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    Got some use ideas, but first here’s how “head high” Scotch Broom looks after years of maturity, being worked by an impressive herd of goats for more than 2 years, then enduring a serious wild fire. Mound garden idea is interesting, I can't speak to that, glad for that opening for more people to respond with thoughts there.

    My short YouTube documents botanical structure, sturdiness, and burn-ability. It stands. No re-sprout from base. Sharing of link appreciated:
    Scotch Broom and Fire courtesy Stanley Documents on YouTube

    I too have been puzzling on what Scotch Broom is good for (many years green side Washington State). It has had its moments, but does choke out lesser plants, even sturdy lesser plants [such as Salal -–florist foliage].

    At botanical.com (Mrs. Grieve’s Herbal gone digital) you can learn a lot about Scotch Broom’s cultural preferences and uses. The author’s research agrees with what has been said about site selection. Apologies if duplicates, but here is an easy link if you want to learn more at this time. Descriptive and Nifty Drawing of our subject, Scotch Broom: Botanical.com on Scotch Broom

    Latitude 47 Notes: Folks are apt to call it Scotch Bloom. Flowers cover the shrubs followed by equally huge number of pods which “pop” when dry, dispersing an exponentially multiplied amount of seeds. Seedlings are kind of wiry; not succulent browse. Pulling smaller ones works when the soil conditions cooperate, moisture content and so on. Variations noted personally: 1) light yellow bloom 2) dotted-as-with-freckles otherwise
    normal flowers.





     
    Burra Maluca
    Mother Tree
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    Thanks for sharing that. I've embedded the video below.

     
    Ivan Weiss
    Posts: 176
    Location: Vashon WA, near Seattle and Tacoma
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    I burn the mature shrubs (the woody stems/trunks) in the wood stove all the time, and make biochar out of it. So in that sense I regard it as somewhat of a resource. I whack away at it with the billhook, chop and drop the tops, and let the hogs root up the rest. In the cow pastures, I yank it out by the roots with an Extractigator. I don't want it around.
     
    2017 Permaculture Design Course at Wheaton Labs
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