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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Gardening: Medb vs. Japanese Knotweed ...

Round 1, fight!

Oh my goodness, suddenly I understand what my Mother used to mean when she'd talk about her startlement at finding that moving the chesterfield was suddenly harder than she remembered ... without taking into account, of course, that it had been a decade since the last time she'd tried.

Two days ago, you couldn't see the tops of the Knotweed above
the line of the retaining wall.

So, I went out today armed with a sharp pair of telescoping cutting shears with the intention of doing battle with the invader which has suddenly sprung up above the level of the retaining wall. This stuff grows horribly fast and, as the only way to really get rid of it is to dig up every last bit of the rhizomes (root system) this will likely not be the last time I will do battle with it.

The North-facing group already towering over my
Rosemary and Uva Ursi.
The East-facing group which also gives you a brief look at the slope
of the cliff going down beside the retaining wall to the truckyard below.

I started with the East-facing group as it was actually the harder of the two to get two ... requiring me to sit on the edge of the retaining wall and drop approximately 2.5 feet to the slope. That's about the point where I started to realize this would be harder than I'd initially thought as there is a 50% angle to the slope and very little solid purchase. It took a while to hack through the stems and I had to balance myself so I could stand in a crouch, leaning forward and reaching with my arms to reach to the back of the grouping ... all without toppling myself down the cliff. Once that was done, I then had to haul myself back up the retaining wall and over into the yard (harder than it sounds when one is out of shape :-p )

I then approached the North-facing group warily, getting down there seemed at first to be a much simpler prospect than what I had just accomplished. I quickly discovered, as I made my way down the grassy slope  of the yard along the retaining wall, that the fact that the damp grass extended in large patches a fair way down the cliff was going to make things tougher, not easier. Like standing on ice, it was ... but I persevered doing yet another insane balancing act and refusing steadfastedly to allow my thoughts to wander in the direction of what I would do if I lost my balance and fell. I stubbornly hacked my way through that grouping.

Shot of the same scene as the first picture after the
invasive plant battling has been accomplished.

By the time I finished and slip-crawled my way back up to the yard, I was trembling like a leaf from the combination of adrenaline and exertion but the job is done. Suffice it to say, the next time I undertake this task (and I know there WILL be an next time), I'm going to avail myself if some climbing rope and approach it a bit more safely/intelligently

4 comments:

  1. You may want to invest in some spiked climbing shoes for better foot hold in what soil there is as well. Clearing a hill is generally tough, japanese knot weed will make it tougher. Beware the spikes created by the dried stalks from what you cut back this time. They can be jagged and razor sharp.

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    1. The spiked climbing shoes actually sounds like a really good idea when combined with a properly secured climbing rope. Thanks!

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  2. I wouldn't try digging it up, yoou're best best is probably to use a glyphosate weed killer and inject it into the stems. Remember as well, all of the clippings from knotweed are controlled waste in the UK, so you cant dispose of it normally or you just help it spread (another reason weedkiller is a good option). Otherwise you could always contact a japanese knotweed specialist :)

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    1. I have had the suggestion of a weedkiller made to me by a kinsman who doesn't want to see me hurt myself over this. Trust me, I am taking it seriously ... the difficulty for me is gaining access to the assorted stands on the cliff at the back of the property.

      If this were _MY_ property, and not one that I am renting a basement suite in and trying to make use of a tiny patch of gravel to scratch my gardening itch with a small container set, I would definitely be looking into a specialist for removal. I have recommended such to my landlords since you posted that link, but it is up to them whether they will make use of it or not.

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