A focused cleanup

Cooler fall weather always invigorates me, making the horrible, put-off garden tasks look almost fun. The shorter days probably help too, as I know I can only get an hour or so of work in out there after my day job, and an hour isn't so bad, right?


Yesterday I tackled my pokeweed forest. Phytolacca americana if you're unfamiliar. Above you see the view from the bedroom window -- almost anything large and leafy you see (with purple berries if you look closely) is pokeweed. I let too much of this grow this year.

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So I got out there last evening and removed it from the prairie beds.


It looked better with the pokeweed screen, which is why I left it for so long.

These are tap-rooted plants and I have enough experience to know that the big ones will not pull out, so I just lopped most of them off.


Heavy heaps of it got dragged back to the compost pile.

Here's another view further down the hill. Before:


And after:


I really shouldn't have let these grow so large, but when they start coming in their big leaves just work so well with the grasses and other plants. Once they get to 6' (1.8m) tall though, they're shading out most of the others.

Did I mention the berries?


This is just incidental contact -- I have more stains on my shirt and pants (probably -- I didn't bother checking).

When removing so many branches heavy with berries I first thought: what will the birds eat? but then realized that I still have half-a-dozen large pokeweed plants in other parts of the garden that they can feast upon. I dropped lots of berries too:


Not sure where all of these came from...


...but I was picking them off my shirt for quite a while after I finished clearing pokeweed.

I'll be battling this plant again next year, as most of the roots are still in there -- unless I get ambitious later and dig them up. I left some stem sticking out of the ground as markers just in case.


It was fun working in the garden again, even if it was just "weeding"!

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Mark and Gaz  – (October 8, 2014 at 8:07 AM)  

Poke weeding :) Despite its vigour it is a lovely plant and tempted to plant one here too.

sandy lawrence –   – (October 8, 2014 at 10:41 AM)  

I have heard that pokeweed leaves are edible and that some people in the deep south make a pokeweed salad. Don't know about the berries. Curious as to whether or not you have a taste report on these?

Maywyn Studio  – (October 8, 2014 at 11:02 AM)  

What's an autumn without sticky burrs in your clothes!

Alan  – (October 8, 2014 at 12:48 PM)  

Sandy: Mature plants are quite poisonous, but I've read that if you triple-boil the leaves they're quite good. Even double-boiling would be too much effort for me I think. :)

Diana at Garden on the Edge  – (October 10, 2014 at 12:15 PM)  

I've always loved how poke weed looks but it's too big for my tiny garden. I wish I had the room!

Alan  – (October 10, 2014 at 1:17 PM)  

Diana: cut it back (to the ground) every 6 weeks or so (just a guess) once it gets too big -- it will quickly grow back. Repeat as needed. I will probably do this next year. There's a variegated form that stays a bit smaller too if I remember correctly.

Laura Z.  – (November 22, 2014 at 6:13 AM)  

I too, had a banner pokeweed year. They are everywhere because of our ideal growing conditions this summer in Maryland. I'm curious what your plans are for removing these roots. I have found that it isn't really possibly to get rid of them, even if I dig out the root. Some always breaks off and stays in the ground and grows back when I'm not looking. I have some in my perennial garden that I've been trying to eradicate for years. I have not been successful.

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