Woodpile cleanup (or an intro to every unwanted plant around)

My woodpile area is in sad shape right now. It's so weedy and overgrown that I can't even bear to use a current photo of it here.


This is a nice view of part of the woodpile as it was last September. Ah, beautiful.


***
Here it is today. Well, half of it at least:


What a mess. The forsythia on the left is getting too big again. I need to chop it back a bit, but today I'll stay focused: all of these weeds need to be cleared out.

First up, the big weeds right in the middle of the photo: pokeweed. This is actually a pretty nice plant for a "weed". Nice little flowers that turn into attractive clusters of berries:



Beautiful reddish stems, and the plants get quite large -- 6 feet tall or more -- which I really like. (I like large, vigorous plants.)


What I don't like is eventually the berries will ripen to dark purple and the birds (I think) will scatter them everywhere. Did I mention that they're extremely poisonous? Did you also know that you can eat cooked pokeweed leaves? You have to boil them twice though to remove the poison. Whenever I hear this I wonder why people go through the trouble. I also wonder how exactly they figured out that double boiling would make it edible. Anyway, back to the weeds...


Pokeweed develops a taproot, which makes it really hard to get rid of. This one will probably come back since I didn't get all of the root.

What else is growing here that I need to get rid of? There are a few mulberry and other types of saplings:


Lots of virginia creeper vines:


And euonymous -- tons of euonymous:


I like euonymous in small amounts, but the problem is it never stays small -- it spreads like crazy, will climb trees, and just sort of take over.

Don't worry, this isn't poison ivy:


It's a box elder sapling. How do I know it's not poison ivy? It does look a lot like poison ivy... how can I be sure?


I'm sure because there's poison ivy here too, just a few inches away:


It's really important to scope out the area before just diving in and pulling weeds. Nobody likes getting poison ivy. I'm just getting over a case, so I'm pretty cautious right now:


I have no idea how or when I got this, and it's only on this one arm. It's just about healed though -- doesn't itch anymore.

Since I've ID'd the poison ivy, I'll start by removing it. Usually I'll just use a plastic bag as a glove, pull the ivy then invert the bag so the plant is inside. I'm going to play it extra safe this time:


A little poking around and I think I've gotten the whole plant! (Two by two, hands of blue)


With the area cleared of itchy rash hazards, I can start on the saplings, which I've apparently cut at least once before -- you can see the little "stump". Cutting down a healthy tree sapling almost never kills it, and it will grow back pretty quickly. You really need to pull them, and it's pretty simple when they're small.


Oh look, a grapevine.


This one it tiny, but just 15 feet away is a huge monster of a grapevine that keeps getting up into my trees from the common ground behind my yard. I'm going to have to do something about that someday soon. Grapevines are another hated plant around here.

After getting all of the vines pulled, I can see that there is a thick layer of bark sections on the ground that I forgot were here:


They are left over from a couple of years ago when I was splitting a lot of wood. I put them in a pile to clean up "later". I guess it's later now, as these are all partially rotten. Look what I found in them though:



I have no idea how I spotted this, but it's really cool! I wonder what sort of snail created this? I never see snails with shells -- just shell-free slugs.

After removing the bark (there was a lot more than I thought), I'm pretty much finished:


Looks so much better, and I can now pull one or two of my potted bamboo plants over here to get a bit more sunlight! (You'll notice that I didn't remove ALL of the weeds, but I did get most of them. I've given up trying to remove every plant when I'm weeding -- it's nearly impossible and not worth the effort for me. So I get most of them.)

As good as it this area looks now though, it's still only half of the woodpile. The other half (to the right) is even weedier. I am NOT cleaning it up today though. I don't even want to look at it right now. The first half was only an hour of work, but I want to do something more fun with my next hour.

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