Garlic Mustard: Invasively delicious

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No, I am not sure what the phrase “invasively delicious” actually means, but it sounded like “magically delicious” from the cereal with a rabbit mascot.

I digress…, Garlic Mustard season is here (March – April). Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) is native to Europe and Asia and was brought to the America’s as a spice much like lemon balm. I think it tastes lovely, but I also am paid to kill acres upon acres of it each year. What can I say, we have a weird relationship.

Garlic Mustard lives its plant life in an unusual way. For it’s entire first year, it just has some nice vegetative leaves and doesn’t flower. It invests its time in collecting lots of energy from the sun, creating a nice root system and prepares for its second year of life. The way GM sees it, the more energy they get in the first year, the more seeds it can produce in the second year. This is reason #1 it is so invasive: LOTS OF SEEDS.

Aside from the lots of babies, GM produces some chemicals in it’s roots that act as an herbicide to all other seeds except GM. It’s only an issue for other plants, not humans. Talk about parental care for your babies! That’s reason number #2 it is so invasive: parental care.

The last reason it is so invasive, as if it needed yet another reason, is because deer find it completely unpalatable. Even the goats of the wild game world (deer) don’t even want to eat it. So deer will select to eat the native plants instead of the garlic mustard. So that gives the garlic mustard more space to grow and throw down seed. So reason #3: nothing eats it except….US.

So that’s where you and I come in. I have a special ebook for you! It is the comprehensive garlic mustard guide that you can print and take with you to the field. It is filled with pictures and not *too* science-y. I did throw a few terms in there to help out. And it’s completely free. Fill out the info below to get your copy!

 

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Foraging verses Gardening

Each year, I sit down with my big list of plants and quickly realize how overwhelming it is. I have my long gardening list, my foraging list, and my “flowers to see” list. Three lists with an overwhelming amount of plants on them. Every plant on that list fights for my time. Foraging verses gardening verses botanizing.

It’s exhausting, isn’t it? Do you ever feel like your lists (chores, to dos, calendared items) are constantly vying for your time? My plant lists make me want to take a nap and sage away that negative energy.

So when I started pouring through seed catalogues, I started seeing mushroom kits EVERYWHERE. This is where I said I am not a pure forager. I love aspects of both gardening and foraging. So the mushroom kits really peaked my interest. I could grow them along with my regular garden and I could cross them off my foraging list. BOOM 

Here’s the thing, while I am all about that two-birds-with-one-stone simplicity, something about this venture didn’t settle well with me. Yes, I bought the kit. Yes, I got excited when I clicked “purchase now.” But something happened when I opened the kit.

Mushrooms are hard work, just in case you didn’t know. The pH must be absolutely perfect, the watering just so, and the sunlight has to be exquisite. The amount of time I would have to invest just so I could be, well, lazy. And the last thing this overwhelmed, and by and large, lazy person wants is to add more work to my already long to-do list. While I am always up for a challenge, I don’t want to set myself up for failure either.

Aside from all of the hard work, something else just didn’t feel right. It was almost a cheating feeling. Like I am cheating on the foraging. In the back of my mind I kept saying I love gardening, but not this type of gardening. Do you ever think something and then wonder “what in the hell am I even talking about?” Well, that was me wondering about what was my type of gardening. Am I a forager or a gardener? While I am sure you didn’t pop by the blog to learn about my identity crisis, but heeeeyyyy here we are.

After a month of thinking about this crisis, I have learned a few things:

  1. Moderation. Moderation. Moderation.
  2. Choose the things that fill you with joy.

That’s it. If it doesn’t make me happy, screw that. And if it is “too much work,” I won’t do it. So no mushroom kits, but I will grow an amazing salad garden. I will go forage for the things I love: morels, garlic mustard, black locust blooms, ramps but I am not going to forage every. single. thing.

just like mother nature, there is a delicate balance to everything.

 

 

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