Let the sun shine in

I woke up Saturday morning with the land-clearing bug. All this talk of getting a goat to eat down the bushes so we could actually see the property we own got me, well, interested in seeing the property we own. Impossible under the jungled circumstances – the uncleared land was a solidly tangled and imposing green wall. So I went out there – dressed in jeans and long sleeves and blessing the cool 86F day – and started hacking away with a pair of hand loppers. (Yes, I tried a machete. Didn’t work – just bounced off the woody stems. And yes, it was sharp).

Turns out, there are hills on that-thar land! This is only the beginning of the first one, and there are some more further back. There’s a little depression that might be dug out to form a pond, and rolling little hills around it – it’s actually quite pretty in there.

At first I thought maybe the hills were backfill from when they dug the basement, but I scratched around a bit – shallowly, I admit – and it looked like a rich, airy (if root-ridden from all that suckering clethra) light forest loam. Kind of like the soil could be down in the garden if it were actually well-drained. I was starting to think “screw the goats, I want this land for gardening” when I remembered that that was what the goat was there for – to clear the land and kill all those jungly shrubs.

See, this part of our jungle is all made up of a single plant (intertwined with some truly heinous thorn vines): I think it’s called Clethra (sounds like a Greek villain, or maybe a venereal disease). An 8-10′ tall native understory shrub that spreads in colonies by suckering. Which means that the ground  intricately laced with a web-like network of roots ready to send up more shoots at a moment’s notice. You can’t effectively rip out individual plants because more will just come back from an adjacent root, and you can’t roundup it all because all the roots nearby will rejuvenate any plant sprayed (I’ve tried). It’s kind of like floral whack-a-mole. Two acres worth of whack-a-mole.

So our only hope is to put an animal or two in there with it that will ruthlessly eat it down and destroy any new foliage it produces, again and again and again, until it cannot get enough nutrients to support its massive root system and starves to death. That, maybe – we hope – might be enough to get this plant to give up the ghost.

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