A Weed To Avoid!


Wild Parsnip

In my recreated one-acre meadow, wildflowers grow. Unfortunately among them are a few wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) plants. Wild Parsnip is a non-native invasive plant, spreading in ditches now in Minnesota. It has clusters of small yellow flowers and grows between 4’ – 6’ tall.

It looks pretty from a distance but… According to the Ohio State University Extension Service; “Severe blistering can occur if chemicals in the plant juices (furanocoumarins (= furocoumarins)) come in contact with skin and the skin is then exposed to sunlight; specifically ultraviolet light. The effect is called phytophotodermatitis (a.k.a. Berloque dermatitis) and burn-like symptoms as well as skin discoloration may last for several months. Always wear gloves and protective clothing if you find yourself working around this weed!” Two years ago I had a friend that tangled with this plant and a day later blistering 3rd-degree burns spread up and down his arms.

I dispatched the weed with my nuclear weapon equivalent, a liberal application of Liberty Herbicide. Liberty is a fast action contact killer that, once dry, does not travel to other areas. It works best in the dry heat of July and August.

While I can tolerate some Water Hemp, Thistles, and even some Stinging Nettle, Wild Parsnip will not be welcome in my garden.

Spring Projects

Spring has arrived in Minnesota and spring planting has begun. This morning my wife and I planted 25 Lilac and 25 Dogwood bare rooted bushes along our tree line. In a few years, they will make a nice wind break for the yard. Yesterday we planted two varieties of Rhubarb. We also purchased 10 bunches of Asparagus that we will plant in another week.

Lilacs planted in tree line.

Last winter we hired a gardener to bring in his tractor to till up two gardens for us. (One for vegetables and one for flowers.) We will have to re-till them before we plant. That will allow us to amend the soil with peat moss and manure.

Backyard Vegetable Garden

Side-yard Flower Garden

It is exciting to sit back and dream about these gardens. A lot of design will be based on whimsy as I scour the neighborhood and surrounding farms for flower being thinned out of friend’s gardens. Some of the plants I brought from our old house have already started to sprout again in the gardens we started last summer. I was worried because we had to move in the height of the summer heat and the plants were under a lot of stress.

I noticed many of the tulips we planted last fall have been nibbled on. I suspect we have a healthy population of hungry bunnies. Now that the weather is warmer, our two outside tom cats need to earn their keep and began patrolling. Unfortunately Charlie and Pete seem to be content to just sleep in the sun. Perhaps I will have to do an Elmer Fudd imitation and declare war on these rascally rabbits myself.

Bunny Lunch

Decoy Garden Bunny

Last week, when one of my daughters was home, I was able to start trimming up some of the over grown foundation bushes. They apparently have grown untrimmed for the last five years. After I was done clipping we hauled two truckloads over to our burn pile.

Front Yard Bushes

Side yard bushes

Backyard pile waiting for a calm day to burn.

I received a phone call from my Nursery that the apple trees and pear trees that I ordered last fall will arrive in three weeks. I will be planting ten of the dwarf fruit trees in my new orchard I’ve laid out. On the other side of the property I will be planting Red and Black currents, Blueberries, Raspberries, Currants, Gooseberries and Chokecherry. I discovered two red mulberry trees and trimmed them up last fall, looking forward to competing with the birds for the fruit.

For a quick project, we will be redoing the garden shed into covered party shed. I’ve ordered hardware to make an eight foot sliding door on the front of the building, replacing three windows and a door right in the middle. There is already a concrete pad there for a patio set and we will be adding a fire pit in front of that. A couple of ornamental bushes and some pot flowers and it should make an inviting place to entertain outdoor guests.

Garden Shed

It’s going to be a busy summer.