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.