Tag Archives: weeding

Guerilla weeding

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This culvert has been one of my patches for a few years now (in this post in 2016 I am not sure I am planting for the first time…), and it is really looking good now.  In fact, today as I weeded, a gentleman in a suit came past and his only comment was “oh, I wondered who had been doing that!”

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Ultimately, my goal is to have native plants out compete weeds, so that no one feels the need for poisoning, and native insects and birds and lizards can have a little more of what they need. In the meantime however, the struggle is on to make sure that effort to poison weeds do not kill my little plants before they can become established. So here is my weeding toolkit and our biggest bucket.

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I filled it to overflowing and at this time of year, a weed the hivemind on this blog identified as a cudweed predominates.  It is probably Gnaphalium affine (Jersey Cudweed) (so far from home!) But look!  The saltbushes (three species here) are really established now.

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There is flax leaf fleabane and prickly lettuce and fourleaf allseed , and even a few fumitory plants have survived past the first heatwave and my best efforts. On the other hand, look at the native plants now.

Even the Ngarrindjeri weaving rushes are looking good at the moment.

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And, here it is afterwards–perhaps you can’t tell iin so small an image.  But hopefully the seed burden is reduced.  Already, the boobialla and saltbushes are crowding out weeds which really can only take root seriously at the edges. I hope the poisoners will leave things be.

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And seedlings for autumn planting are springing up under the regular watering provided by my beloved. Life rises up in its own defence, and so must we rise up for the future of life on earth. Today, with a little local weeding.

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This week in guerilla gardening

As the weather begins to really start to warm, I am increasingly keen to get plants into the ground if I can. I still have weaving rushes (sedges) that need happy homes.  There tubestock pots have become less and less happy.

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Careful observation makes me think the place where they might have enough soil moisture to make it through the summer is in the culvert I have begun planting out.  I added them to edge of the channel, where there is some clay that is still quite wet. Those further up the bank were planted a few weeks ago and have grown quite visibly.  I spent some time trying to increase the water holding shaping of the bank, as you can see water just runs down it despite my efforts.

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Here is the other side of the bank, complete with mystery plants.

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I also planted this scrambling saltbush.  One of them had a stray sheoak seedling in with it.  Fingers crossed!

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A few boobialla up on the top of the banks.

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And here is the bigger picture.  You can barely see my plantings, just the mystery plants, about 30-40 cm high.

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Gnaphalium affine (jersey cudweed)?  Helichrysum luteoalbum? Pseudognaphalium luteoalbum? One source suggests the last two are are the same plant… and that the common name is Jersey cudweed. Thanks for your suggestions! I will keep looking and accepting clues.  Meanwhile, the mystery continues…

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This week in guerilla gardening

This morning there was a little outing.  Planting at a culvert beside the local train station with cyclists whizzing past and runners raising eyebrows.

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It’s interesting working so close to the train line.  I moved into this neighbourhood because of the public transport, and the lucky find of a place we could afford, discovered when I took a wrong turn on my bike coming home from work.  The place was for private sale with a handmade sign and we had given up on finding anything in this spot.  I appreciate the public transport, and rail freight too, a great deal.  But some days I also reflect on the spectacularly ugly way we do these things here. I live in hope that the future will find better ways and that these trains will be powered more sustainably soon.  I put in more weaving rushes on the banks of the channel, and some saltbush above it.  There was a whole purple towel just inside the fence for the railway, but well past the end of the path.  Curious.  It can join the dyeing towels.

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And then there was weeding.  The best way to keep the poisoners at bay!  Several of these plants have come up.  This one is in bud.  Does anyone more knowledgeable know what they are?  I think my parents have them in their garden, where I think they give off a curry (fenugreek, perhaps) kind of scent in midsummer.  Wandering about on the interwebs, Mum and Dad probably have Curry Plant (Helichrysum italicum) and … this may not be the same plant, but I can’t readily identify it as [locally] native or a weed.  Identification is a work in progress. Maybe the recent flooding rains have borne seeds here, as I have seen it nowhere else nearby. The plant growing in this reveg site I am working on also comes up in the older graves on the West Tce cemetery, where they have recently been poisoned along with the sow thistles.  Poison, even in cemeteries.  Friends, let me push up weeds if needs be, when the time comes.  Weeds may be plants growing where they are unwanted but routine and repeated poisoning is not a great alternative.

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It’s one of the things I love about guerilla gardening, and thinking of it as caring for Kaurna land in some small way, that I understand more and more of the small ways of the place around me.  Both its suffering under trash and poison and the way plants grow and spread and long to live and small creatures find ways to get by or thrive.  The previous round of plantings have survived and begun to grow.

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I weeded out the things I recognise to be weeds (less fumitory, more prickly lettuce and flax-leaf fleabane this time).  I left the unnamed plant.  It may be native and is a handsome, hardy, silver leaved plant in any case.

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On the weekend I weeded on my way home from the train station and there was a broken bucket to pick up and use, into the bargain. Chicken happiness, neighbourhood weeding, and trash turned into recycling, surely the trifecta of the guerilla weeder.

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Then there were weedy poppies alongside the railway line. Beautiful.

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And shirley poppies at home in abundance.

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With bee revelry into the bargain.

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One landed on my thumbnail to inspect me.  I am not allergic but even so it gave me a start, then I blew gently on it, and off it went.  Blessed are the bees and those of us lucky enough to be able to appreciate them.

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Woman on a (caltrop elimination) mission

Today my running mate and I were on our way back toward home when I noticed this plant cascading down the side of a concrete retaining wall.  I must have passed it many times without noticing what plant it is, exactly.  Perhaps I was pleased to see something green in this industrial landscape if I noticed it at all.

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Today I looked up and saw that it was, in fact, caltrop (or bindii), (tribulus terrestris).

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This is not a plant I want in my neighbourhood.  But more particularly, this is not a plant I want on a bike route.  This plant is the source of the infamous bindiis or three corner jacks.  The seed capsules have huge thorns and they are cunningly constructed so that when ripe, they come apart and sit on the ground with the thorn uppermost, ready to hitch a painful ride on any passing creature.  Ouch!  This is the stuff of which bike punctures are made.  I am still thinking about how we are all part of one another.  I finished up a chapter of a new book on Indigenous Australians and colonisation with plenty more to think about, in relation to my responsibilities as a non Indigenous person.  Some of my feral kin cause more damage than others–and I am thinking that we need more biking and more cyclist-loving and not less if we are hoping to keep fossil fuels in the ground.  So this was a priority weeding task for me. or, a small act of love for the earth.  I put air in the tyres of my well worn bike trailer, packed gloves and secateurs and a milk crate, and off I went.

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It was worse than I thought.  Too late to stop three corner jacks falling onto the path.  I am sure that those devices you see TV police throw onto the road to stop vehicles by puncturing their tyres must have been modelled on caltrop.  Haha!  I just went to Wikipedia which confirmed that spike strips are a development of caltrop!

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Bindiis at many stages of development…  I gathered up all the fallen bindiis.  Then climbed onto my trusty milk crate and yanked as much of the plant out as I could without being able to reach the main stem.  I had already tried to get access from above but it’s fenced off and I would need more than a milk crate to get over that fence.  Soon I had showered myself with more bindiis but removed most of it.  I swept up bindiis again.  Note to self.  Next time, bring a brush and a tarpaulin.

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Meanwhile I had disturbed a local resident.  In Australia, small children are taught not to put their fingers in places they can’t see into.  Partly because of redback spiders.  They are beautiful and poisonous.  But mostly they hide out of the way in dark spaces, bothering no one human.  I must have inadvertently pulled this one out of a join in the concrete in my efforts to collect the bindiis and hope I didn’t hurt her too much.  Need I say I was wearing my thickest gloves?

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Soon this was all that was left.  My bike trailer was half full.  My bag of bindiis contained hundreds of punctures waiting to happen, with hundreds more still on the plant. In the matter of my responsibilities to those who litter, I found a plastic bag to collect the fallen in and remembered that sometimes litter comes in handy.  But–one less plastic bag in the parklands still sounds preferable to me.  I checked all round my tyres and all over the path before moving.  Only about a dozen bindiis collected this time!  Then I checked my tyres.  All good to go.

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En route home, I collected a bit more rubbish from the path.  Then carefully placed the caltrop in our bins and checked for fallen three corner jacks.  You can never be too careful! Just a couple.

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On the way home I checked my mental sound track and found ‘Willie’s song’ by Dana Lyons (you know, ‘Cows with Guns’?) playing in my mind.  Perfect for the task.  The mind is an amazing place.  I do love it when the grumpiness recedes and something glorious enters in.  Thanks on this occasion to my running buddy and to the writer of the book I’m reading and perhaps also to remembering to regard the earth and trees and myself and caltrop as all part of one another.

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