Hello all! We are working on a portion of our 4 acres, which is located on the south facing slope near the Great Smoky Mountains. We are turning this portion, which is probably about 2 acres, into a forest garden. The remaining bit will stay wild.
But we are at square one. Kinda.
We are currently utilizing chickens to help scratch and fertilize the soil, and we are bringing in trailer load after trailer load of mulch. We've had goats in this area as well to help with brush removal and fertilization but no longer have them. Our next critter purchase will be American Guinea Hogs (maybe this spring).
Sooo getting down to the point of the post: There are a great deal of vines that grow along the ground on this portion of the property. It had been somewhat cleared of trees but the former owners didn't do any landscaping so it is essentially wild as well. So what The heck are these vines? Or rather, more importantly, how do I go about reducing them down so that I can grow more helpful plants?
(I've included photos of the area I'm referring to as well as a closeup of the vines.)
Maybe Japanese honeysuckle? The leaves look different, but that might be due to younger growth.
http://weeds.brisbane.qld.gov.au/weeds/japanese-honeysuckle When it flowers you will know for sure if this is it. The referenced site claims year round blooming. Ahem. They must not have a winter. Mine bloom late spring and early fall, with occasional blooms in between. It seems to be a good ground cover, here... if it gets mowed occasionaly, and you aren't ready to plant something else yet. It WILL climb and smother anything in it's way.
Yep, that is sure Japanese Honeysuckle. It is a plant my father hated above all others and it certainly does take over the world. On our new property there are trees that have been strangled to death by the honeysuckle. It is not useless as it can be used to make baskets and rope. I pull up what seems like miles of it and coil it up into a wreath shape. After it dries, it can be used for decorations or mulch or you can sell the dried coils to basket crafters . If the soil is covered by it, there is some protection from erosion but I don't think anything eats it. When I am ready to cover crop and plant an area is when I begin the assault on the honeysuckle and you must get every single crumb of it. It will return with a vengeance without vigilance. It can be chopped up and fermented into a nice ground soak.
Sheep will eat any honeysuckle leaves they can find. They cleared all of the honeysuckle off the parts of my property they can access. For large vines climbing up into the trees, cut them off at ground level and the sheep will eat all of the regrowth.
Thank you all for your help! I'm going to keep it in place until I need the land for something else. I am working in sections to fill my pine and oak covered mountainside property with perennials and other edible/beneficial layer-makers.
Love the idea to use the vines for basketry and cordage, by the way!
Yep, honeysuckle. Native and grows very well in the SE USA. Deer love it. The vines can be used in a multitude of crafts etc. If you want completely rid of it fence it in and turn some cows or pigs in on it.
Diego Footer on Permaculture Based Homesteads - from the Eat Your Dirt Summit