Gardening,  Sustainable Community

Garlic Mustard Invasion!

Earlier this spring I noticed a large patch of pretty white flower on top of long leafy stalks. I thought “Wow, look at them all! Aren’t they pretty?” I hadn’t noticed them last year, there had only been a few. Also, where has the poke weed gone? Not that I want it back. I was trying pretty hard to get rid of it…

By not so random coincidence, our local National Public Radio station posted about Garlic Mustard, a noxious weed that produces allelochemicals which are toxic to most plants in North America. Luckily, the toxicity is reduced over timeGarlic Mustard is invasive and as it turns out in Massachusetts it is PROHIBITED (as if you could keep it out?).  Maybe the authorities will come pull it up for me…

My patch is fresh, this is maybe it’s second or third year in my yard. As you can see there isn’t a single other plant growing in the patch (aside from long established trees), not even a knot weed or a maple sapling. I thought long and hard about which I would rather have, knot weed or garlic mustard. After an extensive internet research mission I decided I would rather have the knot weed because:

  1. Garlic Mustard is highly invasive and difficult to get rid of once established
  2. Eradication can take 3-10 years of dedicated pulling
  3. A single plant can disperse over 100 seeds
  4. It stunts and kills other plants (this could negatively impact my more desirable edibles)
  5. Although it is edible, it may contain trace amounts of arsenic (don’t eat it all in one day)
  6. Even though I just pulled it all up, I will have more soon
  7. If I ever manage to get rid of it, I can easily find it somewhere else and if anyone tries to stop me from pulling it up I’ll say, “It is a noxious weed and it’s prohibited in Massachusetts.”

So I thanked the Garlic Mustard for killing the knot weed and promptly pulled it all up by the roots. Though it had not yet gone to seed, I didn’t want to by chance spread it around the yard, so I laid the dead plants on top of the spot where I had pulled them up. I was thinking this might smother any seeds hanging out waiting to germinate.  It also might help smother any surviving knot weed.

I did save a few cups worth of leaves, to possibly try out this pesto recipe

Steve was not a fan, but I liked the pesto. I did add a little salt, pepper and parmesan cheese. The garlic mustard has a sort of tangy aftertaste, sort of like cilantro, metallic almost, but it does not taste like cilantro.

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