Permaculture 101: Reframe “Losing the battle with a pokeweed forest” to “Aha! What have we here? And how does it work with everything else? And how to “get a yield?””

Below: prolific commentary on facebook inspired by what I imagine is a bevy of young permies eagerly responding to one woman’s question about her tangle of “invasives.” I can relate, since we are experimenting with the practice of allowing a more than usual “overgrowth” of strange plants in the GANG garden this year. Believe it or not, it’s still growing “food” (i.e., the kind we plant, not the kind that just shows up). We eat both kinds.

Here’s one shot of the GANG this afternoon.


And here’s a shot of the pond. Geez! Are the fish and frogs okay? I do see a bright orange flash once in a while. What is causing such rampant growth? Chem trails? Fukushima radiation? Just kidding. Or am I . . .


Here’s the promised facebook post and comments:

Anyone have a resource for renovating lots overgrown with “invasives”? I am losing the battle with a pokeweed forest combined with wild blackberries, various dock, wild grape vine, honeysuckle vine, poison ivy and winter creeper all growing densely TOGETHER. I’m not sure sheet mulching will work with the monstrous root system of many of these. Especially when I start planting fruit trees and such. After trying bush hogging, only to end up with a worse mess I want to find a real solution.

  • Nathan Carlos Rupley Sounds like nature has gifted you with a ton of biomass and some good wild edibles. You could try “chop and drop”, but I would mostly try to work with succession not against it.
  • Tom Peifer or put pigs and goats on it, or a ton of nitrogen “under” the cardboard as you build up the sheet mulch….
  • Killian O’Brien The problem is the solution: your own invasives-based mulch and compost?
  • Trish Wright I’m in a city, so pigs and goats sadly aren’t an option – though I’ve considered renting a goat for a few days to see how long before someone complained. The problem is they keep coming back. I chop and drop all of it and the ground is amazing there. Let me post a photo.
  • Killian O’Brien It does seem a thick barriier and heavy mulch would work, though – certainly enough to greatly reduce their number. I dlike the first two responses, tho.
  • Killian O’Brien Well, gives you a reason to be out in the garden… and getting exercise….
  • Michael Lipko Definitely Round-Up! LOL….no I think the goats suggestion as a first pass. Any woody stuff that isn’t eaten cut down to base and keep cutting to exhaust the root systems. Then heavy sheet mulch. Invasives are probably there because they are the only plants that would grow on a compromised soil.
  • Kathleen McCann I agree with Killian – why are these ‘invasives’ there in the first place, observe what is happening above and below the soilscape…..some big digging out of the worst offenders may have to happen….and using chickens as a tractor effect would work too…..vinegar is a great herbicide on hot dry days… applying when necessary till it works…..keep at it you will get what to do for the best….
  • Nathan Carlos Rupley Careful with vinegar it can make your soil acidic.
  • Killian O’Brien though works great for nightshades… and acidity doesn’t last too long and can be fixed later.
  • Trish Wright Killian, I also have a 2,000 sf garden area, chickens, dogs, cats and a full-time job as a single woman. Time is very limited and I’d rather it could be spent making progress rather than the futile battle that it’s been. There was a tangle of blackberries and most of these weeds in this back half of the yard when I bought the house 17 years ago. 3 years ago I had it bush hogged to start a food forest. Instead, nature just gave me a forest of vines and briars that I have to cut my way thru. lol
  • Kathleen McCann Yes – a good quality vinegar, not a cheap kind and only applied to the cut stems and root area – any acidity is easily fixed with nitrogen fixing plants like nettle – which is already growing there you say…..
  • Trish Wright I have one stinging nettle plant that I put in last year.
  • Killian O’Brien Seems the problem was in the delay between the knocking down and implementation. Life is like that!
  • Trish Wright Oh, there wasn’t much delay, everything started growing right away. . . .and FAST! This area was cleared to the ground again in mid April of this year. 3 months of almost daily rain and poof instant jungle. I need more cardboard. A lot more cardboard.
  • Wyche Robinson You don’t have an invasive problem, you have a pig shortage.
  • Wyche Robinson I see you are in Virginia, I am too, you should go to the ABC store to get your boxes.
  • Leanna Garcia-Barone Seems to me the only undesireables are the creeper and poison ivy. Everything has its place in permaculture. Honeysuckle attracts pollinators. Dock, pokeweed, blackberries, and wild grapes are all edibles. Unwanted or inedible by human fruits will attract birds who will act as pest control.
  • Killian O’Brien Agreed, Leanna Garcia-Barone. I’d try to look more at supplanting most of them rather than getting rid of all of them.
  • Leanna Garcia-Barone The grapevine and creeper also are great materials for basket and wreath making.
  • Wyche Robinson A scythe with a brush cutting blade would be nice to have also.
  • P.S. If you haven’t taken the Permaculture Design course yet, you might think about it. Check the permacultureactivist magazine for lots of listings.
This entry was posted in 2013, new economy, permaculture principles, unity consciousness, Uranus square Pluto, visions of the future, waking up, wild new ideas, zone zero zero. Bookmark the permalink.

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