by: Mary Lewis, Co-op Member Owner
The most destructive of the invasive plants in this area, garlic mustard prevents the growth of native plants, including tree seedlings. We need your help in preventing this weed from spreading.
Garlic mustard has a two year life cycle. The first year it grows from seed to form a rosette or cluster of leaves that stay close to the ground. At this stage the leaves look like a large creeping charlie, but are distinguished from them by their garlicky fragrance when crushed. In the second year it puts out a spike that grows to a height of one to two feet and produces many small white flowers with four petals. It is the only member of the mustard family in this area that has white leaves, all the others have yellow leaves.
The best time to weed garlic mustard is early in the spring before the rosettes that have overwintered send up the flower stalk that is the second year of growth. Use a hand trowel, or a hoe if you can get whole root up that way. Once flower buds appear (mid-April) the plants must be bagged and sent to the landfill.
It’s important to check areas several times during the season, and for at least five more years, because seeds last in the ground for many years. Look well beyond edges of a patch for isolated plants that can start new patches. Begin with outlying areas first, since that will keep garlic mustard from spreading.