GROVE: Prediction for 2010 - More weeding to take place...

The still intense competition for survival that continued between the original non-native Japanese Knotweed and the native swamp white oaks that we planted in the spring of 2008 continued in 2009. The rain during the growing season was a welcome relief from the drought conditions the trees faced in 2008 but it rained on the plants we didn’t want as well as the ones we did. Tending the GROVE in 2009 consisted of repeatedly pulling the copious growth of the non-native plants such as ivy, knotweed, garlic mustard, mile-a minute (eek!), lady’s thumb, etc. Removing the non-natives repeatedly also helps to support the more prolific native volunteers such as poke weed, jewel weed and trumpet vine. If given a fighting chance these plants seem to be able to successfully compete with the non-native plants.

Of the five oaks we planted one has died. Two others lost their top foliage but still had healthy scrubby growth at the bottom. We altered those to shrubs in the hopes that they will survive as such. And surprisingly two more oaks seem to be surviving as single trunk trees. We have also found multiple young oak and tulip volunteers. (Protecting these and other tender young plants remains the reason for limiting foot traffic to the inner planting area.)

We have applied two simple strategies in our efforts to establish a diverse array of native plants to replace the previous monoculture of Japanese Knotweed. The first strategy was the intensive planting of natives in 2008 and the second is the repeated pulling of non-natives while protecting native volunteers. And as reported earlier this year, we are having some success, but it is an uphill battle. One must return to weed the invasives over and over again, while limiting foot traffic. More weeds, fewer hands!

My goal is to replace the original monoculture of Knotweed with a more biodiverse GROVE full of native trees and plants that tends itself. However, since that day is not here yet and may not be here for a while, in 2010 I plan to continue to travel to Carpenter’s Woods multiple times during the growing season to do battle with the invasives, just as I did in 2009. Look for me occasionally in the woods from April to September where you will find me muddy and tired from weeding but happy to continue to support the trees, insects, and wildlife in Carpenter’s Woods through the project GROVE.

Happy New Year to all, from West Island, MA, fondly, treemaker9