I’ve started clearing the back part of our property. We’ve neglected it since we bought the place, aside from trimming down a few trees and my husband’s foray back there to dig out some of our wild roses.
As a result, it’s absolutely awful. The poison ivy has spread, but it’s only one of approximately 7 vines that threaten to take over our yard. The others are Virginia Creeper, Bittersweet, Wild Clematis, swamp dewberry, wild grapes, and ground ivy. Did you know Virginia creeper causes a rash in your skin if you’re one of those “sensitive people?” Neither did until I looked it up after getting a huge rash when I decided to pull some up Willy nilly. Wild clematis I originally mistook for poison ivy since poison ivy can also climb, also occasionally looks like a mitten and alternates on the vine. Except poison ivy doesn’t flower and I saw the wild clematis when it was flowering. Since the clematis had grown to cover several sapling, bushes and felled tree trunks, this was a huge relief. Less of a relief is the fact that the variety we have growing here just happens to be the kind that also causes a rash, though more temporary than the other two. Bittersweet, though invasive, wild grape, and swamp dewberry are probably the least distressing of all the vines. No rashes, they have yet to cover everything. They’re fine. I still want to get rid of them, however.
Ground ivy on the other hand…
If anyone knows of a more useless vine, let me know. Nothing eats ground ivy. In fact, it’s toxic to some animals. It grows like 60 cm a year, releases about a billion seeds from its tiny purple flowers, and will utterly and completely take over your yard. Kind of like it’s attempting to do to mine.
Like its name suggests, it covers the ground. Aggressively, choking out anything else that might want to grow there. You could use an herbicide to get rid of it, but me being a hippy, I don’t want to. But there doesn’t seem to be an easy way to get rid of it, other than spraying it or covering it with black plastic (which I’ve done with the poison ivy). The internet suggests that a solution of borax will kill it. However, it also says that if the solution isn’t exactly the correct percentage, it will kill everything and not just the ground ivy. I don’t really want to kill everything. Just the ground ivy. Then again, it’s not like i couldn’t just plant more grass.
In areas thick with it, you can just roll it up like a carpet, which I have done. You find where the vines end and just pull them up and roll, revealing the dirt and bugs underneath. This is weirdly enjoyable, especially for the chickens if they happen to be around. Of course, any plants that happen to be nearby will also be pulled up, but if the area is just ground ivy, not a problem.
It is, however, time consuming. I hate ground ivy.
At least it doesn’t cause any rashes and has no thorns. Unlike the wild blackberries and wild roses that have sprouted up everywhere. The wild roses are particularly bad. You have to dig them out with the roots or else they’re just come back and their thorns are much, much bigger than bramble thorns.
My husband doubts they’re actually wild roses and thinks they’re more of a thistle. I’ve searched the internet and they don’t look much like thistle at all. But unlike the wild roses I see when googling, these never blossom. These wild roses are all thorn and no flower. Could there be a more disheartening plant?
Sometimes I think previous owners must have had a garden back there because along with the wild blackberries, there are quite a few black raspberry plants growing. These too have spread, their long canes bending over and sticking into the ground to start next year’s crop. They’re easy to differentiate from the blackberries with their frosty blue color. The berries also lack the inner seed, which I prefer over black berries. Due to their wild and uncontrollable nature, I’m pulling them, too, although it may be stupid: I’ve ordered more raspberries to plant in the same area in the spring: red, yellow, and black. Why not just keep the free ones? I don’t know. it I’ve heard you’re supposed to rip out the old ones after a few years and plant new ones. I don’t know why, it’s just what I’ve been told. So I’m pulling these up by the roots as well.
All these things I clear, I toss over the steep embankment in the back of the upper part of our property. It falls off quite suddenly into the woods, where I don’t really want to go. My goal is to build up all the cut brush and let it rot, eventually building up the dirt so that we maybe have a nice gentle slope into the woods instead of a sudden drop off. Aside from that, I’ve also decided it’s my low-tech carbon sink. Where previously we would have burned all these things I’ve cut down, I’m now just throwing it there to let it slowly rot. No more carbon suddenly released into the atmosphere! Go me!
Instead, it will slowly be released there except for whatever stays in the soil. I don’t know. But it feels productive and I like seeing any sort of improvement.