Saturday, April 26, 2014

A Garlic Mustard Pull

I spent three hours this cold, rainy morning with 20 other volunteers pulling garlic mustard at a local nature preserve. It was fun. Our group was a mix of girl scouts, UNH sorority women, local town folk, grad and undergrads, a few high school students, including one from a town two hours away.

Garlic mustard is a weed you should know. Here in the U.S. it is an aggressive, invasive plant. As its name suggests, it smells like garlic when you crush the leaves. You can make garlic mustard pesto with it. Otherwise when you pull it don't put it in with your yard waste or compost. Keep it for a year in the sun in black plastic bags or leave it in a separate pile to compost, or put it in the trash, otherwise it will just keep spreading.

Right now garlic mustard--a biennial, which means it takes two years to complete its cycle--looks like this....
Within a week or two it will flower and look like this....
And if left unchecked, it will spread farther and farther along roads, into natural woodlands, like this...
Garlic mustard gives off chemicals that prevent other (native) plants from growing and also messes with the soil microorganisms including fungi that native plants need to grow. So, groups and people across the region--in New England, New York, the Great Lakes, probably elsewhere, gather on spring days to pull garlic mustard together. This collective effort is fun, inspiring, and makes a difference in our natural areas. For more on garlic mustard check out the resources at The Stewardship Network: New England.

Here are a few pictures from this morning of the hardy, enthusiast volunteers at Lubberland Creek in Newmarket, New Hampshire pulling garlic mustard.

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