Saturday, April 30, 2011

Garlic Mustard Day!

Pulling garlic mustard always inspires me. 

Today’s inspiration is, on so many levels, brilliant. I propose that we declare a regional garlic mustard holiday! Imagine watching, watching, watching … then, when the flowers begin to flash along the roadsides but the seeds are still a few days away from causing mayhem, everyone shall take the day off to pull the troublemakers out by the roots. And, clip, clip, off with their heads—just for insurance. And spite. Side by side, bankers and second-graders, mechanics and professors, will find satisfaction and community in yanking out the aliens that (with sinister intent, I suspect) alter soil chemistry and produce prodigious numbers of offspring. At the end of the rewarding session garlic mustard carcasses will lie severed and wilting, a generation thwarted. 
And the beauty of it is, the date of the holiday is to be determined by those who have the most to gain from it: school children. They will be the watchers of the roadsides. They will observe the elongation of the second-year rosettes, and the formation of the four-petaled flowers. “Soon, soon,” they will tell each other. “See? The maple leaves are beginning to open … that’s a sign! And look, the dandelions are blooming.” 

Not only will the understory be made safe for bloodroot and Jack-in-the-pulpit, but children will have a good solid reason to observe what’s going on outdoors. Shall we declare an arbitrator? Or just determine that when the peony buds are the size of peas, the time is right, and allow the twitter-vine to determine that this is the day. 


Yes, I realize that success would doom the holiday, but I have faith that children will not let that happen. They’ll figure it out, and “forget” a patch, leaving it to spew out next year’s bounty. 

And there are those, to be sure, who will stand up for the right of garlic mustard to flourish; who will bemoan a world without garlic mustard pesto. I say, let them eat groundhogs! 

And solve another garden problem.


  1. We pull them right and left, but ground ivy is the real pest around here. It's small but vicious.

  2. I pull buckets of ground ivy every year from a garden that features intermittently recirculating water. I agree ... a real pest!
    There's an interesting article on the Iowa State U website about using borax to control it on shady lawn areas. I'll have to try it:

  3. I delineate wetlands, garlic mustard is a scourge and I pull it all the time at my house where it is trying to take over my wetland. it thrives in moist soil.