Friday, June 21, 2013
June 21, 2013: Hayden Park News #3 & #4
Hayden Park News #3
Thanks to the eight people who worked hard last Saturday morning under threatening skies trying to eradicated musk thistle on the northern bank of the west arm of the south lake. We worked for about 1.5 hours before it began to rain. We were only able to cut about a fourth of the plants that are there. This is a very bad infestation.
The procedure we used was to pull off all pink flowering heads and bag them for removal and composting. The headless plant was then chopped off at the ground level or dug out with a shovel and let lay.
If you have a chance to help on this during the next week or so before the flowers begin to go to seed it will help to control this invasive plant. Some of the areas we worked on last year are looking better this year.
Hayden Park News #4
Fritz Franzen, who has been helping chop musk thistles, asked me to pass on this information about musk thistles.
“While taking out thistles I noted that on the order of 6-8 "plants" arose from the same root and, in at least one case, I could discern that the root remained from last season. I went on- line and found what seemed to be an authoritative video. There I learned that the plant can grow from old root fragments (they said do not rototill), that the seeds will survive composting, and that the wind-blown seeds remain viable for up to twenty years. The video says that there are two ways to get rid of thistles: 1. cut them back (as we have been doing) repeatedly until the roots lose vitality or, 2. chemical treatment of the root after cutting. What a horrible invasive! This morning Ida (Johnson) told me that she had read that each flower can yield up to 20,000 seeds. It seems to me we Friends will have to continue nipping the plants in the bud and cutting them back to the root for a number of years. Today I was, to the best of my ability, digging out the root systems, but the video implies that unless I got all of the root I might just as well have cut them off at the bottom of the stem. I will be going out again tomorrow and Saturday and it appears to me that we will have most of the flowering plants deflowered and cut back before I leave on Tuesday. All who enjoy the park owe a great deal to Jon Hunstock, Al and Ida Johnson!. Cordially, Fritz”
Al and Ida have been bagging the flowering heads and I have been composting them in my compost bin, contrary to what is recommend by the video that Fritz cited. I think composting will work on the flowers because I have been covering them immediately with dry leaves and old composted leaves. I don’t think these flowers will make seed with this treatment. I use this compost on my own garden, so if I get thistles growing out of it, I should be able to control them. But, what should we do with flowering heads that are starting to make seed? It probably would be good to bag them separately and I’ll find a way to burn them or treat them chemically. I will be out of town Friday through Sunday this week. You can still drop the bags of
flowering heads off in front of my garage and I’ll take care of them when I return.
If anyone can join the thistle corps, you help would be very much appreciated. Wear heavy gloves and cover you bare skin. These thistles are growing in among a dense stand of wild parsnip and the sap from any part of the plant will cause burns on bare skin that can be painful and last a long time. Next, we’ll have to figure out how to manage the parsnips.
I want to add my thanks to the thistle corps. They have been working very hard. Al has a weed hook that seems the best tool I have seen for this purpose. I have ordered one from Amazon.com. Let me know if anyone has ideas to share. By the way, I noticed that there is a stand of thistles in bloom on the hill in the southwest corner of the park where we cut thistles last year. We’ll get them next year.