May is Garlic Mustard Awareness Month and we are well aware of the problem. Garlic mustard seems to be everywhere, even next to our native woodland plants.
Jack-in-the-Pulpit with garlic mustard trying to intrude on the left
But what can be done about this invasive species? Some commercial products such as Round-up have been suggested to help curb the problem but we don’t really support chemical spraying. For our 1/4 acre preserve we just go out each year and pull up the stinking weed. This is a tedious, time-consuming task but the results are worth it. After several sessions of pulling, the area looks well and the natives are able to grow much better.
We put all the garlic mustard into yard waste bags and leave them in there for a few days to a week before it is hauled away. Unfortunately, some of our neighbors do not seem to notice they have a whole field of garlic mustard so the problem keeps returning. But in a way, weeding garlic mustard is easier than dealing with other weeds. You can’t really mistake the plant.
However, at our local parks and preserves the problem appears much greater. There are often acres of the stinking mess growing under beautiful trees, choking out all the native plants and ruining the understory. We suggest school and scout groups go out and pick for a morning. It would be a good way for children to learn about nature and do an excellent service to our ecosystem.
A more extreme solution could be to have prisoners or people doing community service go out and pick the weeds. We wouldn’t want to be involved in the logistics of that, but it has potential to help in many ways. Hiring people to pick would be costly, but might be necessary. This invasive species is wreaking havoc on what little great habitat is left.
The Invasive Species Weblog is an excellent source for garlic mustard info and other invasives. We hate dealing with garlic mustard!
4 thoughts on “Garlic Mustard Stinks (and it Smells Too!)”
I’d never heard of garlic mustard. I’ll have to see if we have it in our yard (Maryland), but I don’t think so. We *do* have far too much ivy.
We had an entire tiny yard full of garlic mustard in Brooklyn. (Tiny meaning our “yard” was 10×20 feet.) I spent an entire summer digging it out, but it would not be deterred, even in our highly polluted industrial neighborhood. Talk about hardy!