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Schlueter — Garlic mustard is an invasive plant

Garlic mustard is considered an invasive plant and was introduced to America by the early settlers for its culinary and apparent medical cures.

It starts growing earlier in the season than the rest of our native plants and overruns them. It also produces a lot of seeds. These are the main reasons why it spreads so rapidly in wooded areas, forming tall, dense stands that smother native wildflowers and native tree and shrub seedlings.

It can overtake a forest in a few years, destroying previously healthy ecosystems, by eliminating many plant species. In addition, animals, birds and insects that rely on different plants for food and shelter can’t live in that area anymore.

This plant is biennial with a two-year cycle. The first year it has a rosette of round, scalloped leaves that stay semi-green through winter. The second year it has a flower stem with triangular-toothed leaves with tiny white flowers with four petals. After the plant produces long, narrow seedpods the plant dies. At maturity, the plant can reach the height of three to four feet and have as many as 500 seeds or more.

Is there any control for garlic mustard?

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Whatever method used should be applied for several years because mustard seeds can survive in the soil for up to seven years. Hand-pull smaller areas, but don’t compost the plants because most compost piles don’t get hot enough to kill the seeds.

Dispose of pulled plants by burying them deeply or burn them while they are still moist — otherwise the seeds will spread. If you use herbicide, spray early in spring or late fall because native plants are dormant at that time. Garlic mustard is still green so that is the best time to spray. A recommended 1 percent to 2 percent solution of a glyphosate containing herbicide is effective. Glyphosate is a nonselective herbicide so avoid getting it near other plants. Read and follow directions on the label. Another good way to control it is to pull it out of the ground as soon as you see one plant and continually search your lawn and wooded areas.

Fruit flies are another nuisance in the homes this time of year. Adult fruit flies can be found around ripe fruit, open beer or soft drink containers, bread, near garbage disposals or garbage cans.

Fruit flies can breed quickly. Eggs are laid near the surface of fermenting and rotting materials.

Bait the flies short term with an old wine bottle that will capture the adults or in a jar that has a funnel at the top so the flies can’t escape.

The only way to eliminate them is to find and eliminate their breeding site. Check to see that your fruits aren’t overly ripe. Check onions, potatoes, squash or other produce where it is stored to make sure they aren’t starting to rot. Don‘t forget to look under furniture, or appliances. Leaky pipes around sinks can also be a problem. The bottom of trash containers, drain pans from refrigerators, any bottles or cans in the recycling bin are other places to look.

Keep those questions and comments coming by sending to Christine Schlueter, 19276 Walden Ave, Hutchinson MN 55350 or email rcschlueter@yahoo.com

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