Monthly Archives: August 2011

Carla lent me her big bed truck with a tail gate that doesn’t open. If you want a driving experience that makes the ’84 Saab seem like it a race car, this would be it.

With a bit of help from two of Patrick Merner’s River Stone Development crew (they arrived to work on the shed chimneys as I was loading the truck), I moved¬† 380 pounds mostly of bittersweet root and stems without leaves from the meadow to my driveway to the dump. The receipt shows that the dumping and waiting to pay took 17 minutes.

I paid the yard waste rate of $70/ton but dumped the material in the regular transfer station not the area marked for yard waste. Invasive material should not be mixed with other yard waste for fear of spreading it. No one stopped me but I will have to explain to the weigh master and hope that he does not tell me I must put the invasives with the yard waste

Before I loose track, here’s an imprecise list of summer animal sitings.

Red fox: Adult foxes have been out in the meadow all summer. In fact, one has come very close to the house on several occasions. Dorie saw 3 kits from the guest house in late June. Ellie and Henning had good views of the family while they were visiting in late July. The kits have grown so that it is hard for me to tell whose who, but four foxes regularly used the paths to get around the meadow. For the past two weeks, I have not seen any foxes however.

Wild turkey: While the Turks were visiting, two female turkeys and five poults were regularly in the meadow. Are they eating up the grasshoppers? They left within a few days of the Turks, about mid August.

White-tailed deer: One day earlier in August, a doe and two fawns appeared on the southern edge of the meadow. Another early morning in August, a single deer wondered around the center of the meadow nibbling on grasses.

Great blue heron: I looked up from lunch one day in mid August to see the Great blue heron who frequents the Bailey pond taking a stroll at the meadow’s edge.

I toured the meadow late this afternoon with my gardening gloves on but no work clothes. That was a memo to self not to pull much bittersweet and an admission that I would not be able to completely refrain.

I tugged on some short withered branches at the top (western) of the meadow. Not much came out of the ground but the stems snapped off the roots easily. It was slow going, however, and everywhere I saw small pieces of plants I had not sprayed. Most of the new growth was on stems that had been cut down to a few inches when the paths were mowed a couple of weeks ago. In the next application of herbicide, I will spray these stems in the paths.

In a patch near the southern boarder of the field where the bittersweet has been mowed only once a year for the past few years, the branches of the plants are tough and long. Although the plants are about 2 feet apart, they make a thatch that blocks the growth of anything else.

The herbicide has made these plants a breeze to pull. And the roots, coated in that tell-tale herbicide white stuff, come up in lengths of a yard. In short order, I had cleared a square of about 6 feet on a side. This was vastly more satisfying than the other section. I wished I had my work clothes on but I am worried about aggravating carpel tunnel pain with too much pulling.

Moving down the field, I see that the areas that have been cut several times a growing season have more varied plants: Queen Anne’s lace, Black-eyed Susans, primoses, ferns, thyme, moss, peas. The bittersweet grows in short, dense patches intertwined with these plants. I have sprayed some bittersweet where it grows sufficiently alone that the herbicide will not hurt those plants I want. But further treatment of these areas is needed and is going to be difficult. I’ll need to talk to someone more experienced than I am about how to handle this. Maybe I have to wait til next spring to treat here to catch the bittersweet before the other plants start growing.

Meanwhile, the meadow beyond the bee hives, where the bittersweet has only been cut annually, may be easier to treat and pull than I feared, if the southern border experience holds here.

The task is enormous. I will need to hire help with the pulling, especially now that my left wrist is handicapped.

With 2 to 4 hours worth of pulling most days, the mound of bittersweet roots is growing. Some of the roots have white mold (?) on them.

Next stop the dump!

Bittersweet roots after herbicide

Still, sunny, not too warm and no house guests. It was a day to spray more herbicide on the meadow.

The Black swallow-wort does not seem to have responded as well (meaning that its leaves have not shriveled) as the bittersweet, although large patches are now dying. It seems some of the bittersweet, maybe where  I did not cover enough of the leaves, is growing again. The sprayed poison ivy is dead.

I went back over a few parts of the front of the meadow, especially where I had missed BSW, knot weed and bittersweet. In 4.5 hours, I sprayed 16 gallons of herbicide getting me almost the the very back of the meadow.

It is hard to believe but the Triclopyr does not seem to bother the insects. Monarchs, white and black butterflies were visiting plants. I saw at least 3 different dragon flies and the grass is hoping with grass hoppers.

Herbicide impact

The bittersweet on east-facing rises where the strength of the sunlight is diminished in the hottest part of the day by aspect and shade from an evergreen hedgerow has successfully outgrown meadow grasses. The soil in this western-most portion of the meadow holds some moisture that the mint and the plant with leaves pierced by its stem also seem to like.

The bittersweet vegetation is about a foot deep in this area. Its leaves are large and deeply green. Its stems are an 1/8 to a 1/4 of an inch thick and 4 to 6 feet long. Each outcropping may have half a dozen stems. This year’s growth lies on the debris of previous seasons’ growth.

I sprayed this section of the meadow with the herbicide in the first application in July and then touched up places I had missed earlier this week. While the sprayed Bittersweet seems not to be growing anymore, its leaves have not yellowed and shriveled the way they have in other parts of the meadow. Read More