Thursday, March 26, 2009

Wrenching Experience

Last weekend the ground thawed enough that Cadence began tackling the buckthorn in our woods. Buckthorn is supposedly the most invasive plant in Minnesota. It produces gazillions of black berries that birds love to eat, and then excrete the seeds all over tarnation to start new stands which choke out native species.

We are interested in restoring the prairie on the west half of our property, so last fall we invited Kyle Herring to do a site visit. Our prairie has some enormous clumps of buckthorns- the mother plants. Kyle said that in the 1930's farmers were encouraged to plant buckthorn hedges for windbreak and animal habitat - that's probably how it got introduced here. Now huge swaths of the woodland (where the birds like to perch) are carpeted in dense buckthorn brush. We want to remove it before the female plants start bearing seeds.

We'll have to chainsaw down the dozen or so large buckthorn tree clumps and will probably resort to brushing those stumps with herbicide. But for the buckthorn up to 2 inches in diameter, our friend Phil introduced us to the most ingenious tool--the Weed Wrench and kindly lent us his Weed Wrench to use.
The Weed Wrench (here's a better illustration from their website)has a jaw at the bottom that clamps onto the base of the trunk, then you just pull the handle down, and, like a cork coming out of a wine bottle, the tree releases easily out of the soft ground, roots intact. It is a very satisfying feeling.

Working an hour or so a day for the past four days, Cadence has already cleared about 20% of our main buckthorn problem! What once was brushy undergrowth under huge spruce and hackberry trees is now passable, almost park-like. Maybe some wildflowers will have a chance this spring.

1 comment:

Susan Tomlinson said...

Oh, I have got to get me one of those for some invasive turk's cap I want to remove out of my dad's garden.