By Caroline Larson
Editor’s Note: Active, town-wide campaigns to eradicate Garlic Mustard are underway in neighboring communities.
Garlic Mustard is in bloom and now is the time to pull it out! This invasive weed is rapidly overtaking woodland areas, beside roadways and along pathways in Bedford and other communities in this area. The problem with Garlic Mustard is that as a non-native plant, it crowds out other native varieties that we cherish, such as woodland lady slippers, trillium, trout lily and it even competes with tree seedlings which will become our future forests. Garlic Mustard also produces chemicals in the soil which eventually kill native plants. Some species of butterflies, confused by the lack of their preferred plants, lay their larvae on the Garlic Mustard and the larvae never hatch.
Each plant stalk produces hundreds of tiny seeds which can last for 5 years in the soil. So while the Garlic Mustard is flowering, it’s the right time to PULL IT OUT! Yes, this noxious weed comes up very, very easily, especially when the soil is moist. It is a biennial plant which means the first year it only produces leaves and the second year it flowers in the spring and dies, leaving seed pods to spew out a new crop. Once the pods have formed, it’s is difficult to pull it without sending seeds back into the soil.
So…now is the time. Put on some gardening gloves and take a walk in your own back yard. Pull out all the flowering stalks, dispose of them in a garbage bag, NOT in your compost. Do not leave them to dry out in your yard or you will have one big bed of Garlic Mustard the next year. Take a flowering stalk next door and warn your neighbors. This has to be a group effort.
As you pull it, you will note an odor – a little like garlic, but not quite. Some people use the leaves for salad or pesto! Now that you know what it looks like and have perfected your pulling skills, bring a garbage bag in your car and pull over at the next patch you see. I pulled about 1000 stalks on North Road in just about 15 minutes. Once kids know what it looks like, they can pull as well. If we all work together, we can prevent this weed from competing with our native species and producing an undesirable monoculture.
For more information check out this site https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sl1HFFr89Ao