Terrible taro and other invasives

The taro removed from the bulkhead garden.

Removing invasives, sooner rather than later

Just this last April, we redid this weird bulkhead space to fix a slumping problem. At the time, I thought I'd removed all the taro roots and corms (Colocasia esculenta) and the soil we used to fill in the space was from another area of the property with no taros. So in just these few months, they've rebounded. I pulled this whole bouquet from this space which is approximately 4' x 4'.  I'll have to check for new growth more often. I also pulled out some native elderberry  (Sambucus nigra subsp. canadensis) volunteers, which are small trees.

Note on taro (aka dasheen): it was brought from Africa by slaves and then again in 1910 by the US Dept. of Agriculture as a potato substitute for the south. Big mistake. Several people suggested that we include it as a crop in "Organic Methods for Vegetable Gardening in Florida," but I refused. If it's invasive, we should not be encouraging people to grow it. Another interesting feature of this plant as a crop, is that every part contains calcium oxalate crystals, which can irritate your mouth and other tissues. To prepare the corms to eat, you have to boil it in at least three waters and then grind it to a powder.

While I was working on the taro removal, my husband was cleaning out the area between the intake pipe for the irrigation system and the bulkhead. A nice stand of ferns had colonized the area. I decided to replant them along the bulkhead where the turf grass didn't grow well. After standing back to look at the reconfigured space, we decided to remove the turf from the whole area for easier mowing. And here I thought we got to scratch a small item from the giant gardening to-do list, but no, it became a bigger task. Has that ever happened to you?

After my husband cleared out the ferns and other plants that were growing between the intake pipe of the irrigation system and the bulkhead, he cleaned out as much of the built up soil to make this space less attractive for new plants to set up camp there. You can see the pump in the background.A few of the removed ferns with their squished roots and rhizomes.
After looking critically at this space, my husband and I
decided to remove this ridiculous chunk of lawn between our boat-lift bulkhead and the neighbor's concrete pad.
The sticky clay soil under the grass made this job much more difficult.
I had some tropical sage (Salvia coccinea) that needed to be removed from the edible gardens where I will be turning them under with marigolds in a couple of weeks. (See below.) So I added them in front of the previous garden space to make this more of a butterfly garden. There is no gutter for the boat lift bay roof, so we placed a board along the drip line for easy access to the bed and to protect the soil. We mulched the whole area with about three inches of arborists' wood chips. We've had them since September, so they are well-composted.
Testing the placement of the drip board with a hose attached to the irrigation pump.The finished product—for now. Yay!

A couple of side adventures from the bulkhead task...

Whenever we see these invasive snails in the lake, we smash them with a shovel and add them to the compost pile. Just think of all that nice calcium.Treasures found in the chip pile.

In the edible beds

Our come again cabbage is still going strong after 7 months of harvests. I first wrote about this stub of a store bought cabbage in January. I harvested four medium-sized heads and an untold number of leaves. While it looks a little moth-eaten now, the leaves are still sweet!A volunteer tropical sage amongst the okra. I allow these pollinator-attracting plants to grow pretty much where they sprout in our edible gardens. I transplanted a bunch of volunteers from a bed that's ready to be turned to the new bulkhead garden space.

Even though it's been shown to be invasive,
nandina is still for sale and widely planted.

Are you harboring this invasive in your yard? 

Get rid of it now, not only is it displacing native plants in natural habitats, it's also poisoning birds like the cedar waxwings. It's also poisonous to your pets.

I posted this photo on Facebook and it was shared by more than 100 people and seen by more than 5,000 people. There were many comments including people who said that their nandina had never hurt anything and birds even make their nests in it.

The thing is that if a plant has been determined to be invasive, it has already done damage in natural ecosystems. It's not someone's idealistic whim, but a rigorous procedure. See the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Counsel's (FLEPPC) website for more information.

As homeowners we can do our part by keeping them out of our yards so that our birds don't carry their seeds to nearby wild areas. Invasives, both plant and animal, have cost billions of dollars (both pubic and private monies) annually. Don't be part of the problem: don't buy invasive plants, and remove them ASAP from your property.

Beautiful Florida natives!

A beautiful flatwoods sunflower planted itself in my
wildflower garden.
The first beautiful scarlet rosemallow of the season at the edge of our front pond.

Summer skies in Florida!

A hazy beginning to the day after a heavy rain. This is a color photo, but you'd hardly guess that.

After a hazy sunrise (see above) the sunset over the lake was beautiful.

Summer clouds before the storms

Summer clouds on the same day...

A sepia-toned sunrise preceded a day of rain. No gardening took place on this day.
I hope to see you soon at my presentation at the Fleming Island Library in Clay County on August 12th at 10am. the Fleming Island Garden Club coordinated this event, but it's open to all.

Garden early in the day during the summer!

Green Gardening Matters,
Ginny Stibolt

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