Thanks again for following our adventures at The Springs!
The Scuppernong Springs Nature Preserve, which encompasses the nature trail, is overrun with invasive species including: buckthorn, garlic mustard, spotted knapweed, phragmites and many others. We have made some progress over the past 2.5 years and take heart in that, but there is a long way to go. This past summer I made a commitment to stop using toxic foliar sprays to control invasive species and the challenge remains to come up with effective and efficient alternatives.
Garlic mustard is a biennial weed and the first year growth is lush throughout the nature preserve, especially in areas where we have cleared buckthorn, girdled black locust or otherwise increased the amount of light reaching the ground. Here are a few images of garlic mustard on the south end of the loop trail.
In the old days, I would have sprayed this with glyphosate, aka RoundUp. Now, what to do? I have been working with the DNR to try a non-toxic herbicide and it has taken some time to acquire a sample since the product was new for the DNR. Don Dane navigated the procurement process for me and got 1 gallon of EcoExempt HC, which has the active ingredients: 2-Phenethyl Propionate (extracted from peanuts) and Eugenol (clove oil). There seems to be a lack of research available on 2-Phenethyl Propionate as reflected on this site as indicated by it’s “no available weight-of-the-evidence summary assessment” for key toxicity indicators. This herbicide is less effective in cool weather, and, given the cost, I’m hesitant to use more this fall unless I see excellent results in the area I sprayed yesterday. Speaking of the costs to fight invasive species, I thought this piece from Dow AgroSciences made some valid points contrasting the various options available e.g. what uses more energy and produces more environmental harm: spraying with an herbicide like glyphosate, or transporting 10 volunteers to pull weeds?
It looks like I may be too late this year to attack the first year garlic mustard and we can expect carpets of this weed to flower everywhere throughout the nature preserve next spring. We’ll have to decide whether to continue using EcoExempt, try an acetic acid based herbicide, mow with a brush cutter, or pull the weeds before they set seed.
This past Thursday and Friday (Nov. 7-8) I spent some time stacking buckthorn at The Springs and at Ottawa Lake campground site 335. I’ve been working on the northeast side of the trail in the area around signpost #1 and #2 and recently laid down the buckthorn that surrounded the brush piles I had started. On Thursday I added all the newly cut buckthorn to the existing piles and they are ready now to burn.
It was a cool day and the wood was wet to handle but the sun finally came out revealing fall splendor.
A parting shot.
I spent 3 days clearing brush and thinning the trees around Ottawa Lake campsites 335 and 334 and this wood needs to be piled. Yesterday, under beautiful skies…
… I started, and I’m putting the big pieces that would make good firewood into separate piles.
Sunset at Ottawa Lake.
See you at The Springs!