2nd week of April, 2016: clearing brush

When we moved here in 2014, the house had been vacant for a couple of years and some of the fields had not been recently farmed. In particular, the fields farther from the house had been overrun by a variety of different invasive shrubs. This is common in disused agricultural land; invasive plants are able to out-compete many of the native plants to the extent that they can completely dominate the ecosystem. In our case, we are dealing mostly with buckthorn, which is at least not thorny–in some areas, almost every plant above ground level is buckthorn. If it’s just mowed down, buckthorn will grow back (with additional shoots!) instead of dying. In order to bring this land back into cultivation, we need to pull the plants up by the roots, which we mainly do using a Canadian-made hand tool called the Pullerbear–basically a glorified lever with teeth. Last year, we cleared a one-acre field that had been a hay field and planted it with cover crops. One of our projects this spring has been clearing an additional piece of land where we plan to grow flowers.

Various stages of buckthorn eradication: in the background is a buckthorn thicket; in the middle ground is a cluster of buckthorn whose tops have been lopped to facilitate removal; in the foreground is bare ground where buckthorn has been removed.
Buckthorn has been removed from this section, leaving a somewhat desolate appearance. Stay tuned for updates in a couple of months, though– flowers should be blooming here!

We’ll leave you with a view from inside the greenhouse, which is rapidly filling up with seedlings. We started plowing this weekend, and plan to start transplanting out into the field later this week!

swiss chard
Swiss chard seedlings


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