Sometimes I feel like the little Dutch boy who kept his finger in a dike hole to hold back flood waters until help arrived. In my case I want to educate the public about garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) until a greater media power (USDA?) takes on the task. Widespread community awareness and action is the only way to combat the spread of this seriously damaging terrestrial invader.
The previous blog segment, Garlic Mustard – Part 3, discussed control of garlic mustard once it starts blossoming. Due to an unseasonably warm spring, garlic mustard is beginning to bloom NOW in mid-April. Ideally, it is easier to remove your garlic mustard before the seed pods, known as “siliques”, develop from the blossoms. When garlic mustard moves beyond just blossoms and siliques began to develop, proceed as follows:
PULLING GARLIC MUSTARD WITH SILIQUES APPEARING
Once siliques begin to develop from the blossom area, garlic mustard plants contain enough energy to produce seedeven if they have been uprooted. Therefore, it is critical to dispose of garlic mustard in one of the following manners:
1. Bag the garlic mustard and label, “Garlic Mustard – Prohibited Noxious Weed – DO NOT COMPOST”. Place a courtesy call to your garbage hauler advising them this bag must be placed in a landfill and NOT composted. Should your hauler refuse to accept garlic mustard, consider option 2 or 3 below.
2. Pile, dry and burn garlic mustard plants if you have access to a fire pit or other safe burning location. You may need a burn permit depending on the restrictions in your area.
3. Store garlic mustard in black plastic bags or securely between dark-colored plastic tarps to allow it to compost in the sun over time. Heat should destroy seed viability so the plant matter can be dumped into a regular composting pile. On this option, proceed with caution until you are certain that the composting heat was sufficient to destroy seed viability.
Here are two distressing updates I heard on 4/11/2012 during a garlic mustard webinar presented by The Stewardship Network:
– Garlic mustard may produce up to 8000 seeds per plant
– Garlic mustard seeds may persist and remain viable in the soil for up to 12 years
Yikes! More fingers in the dike please! Spread the word and educate others about the importance of garlic mustard control.