Another spring and a new crop of garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) is setting up camp for the season. We found a few small plants in the street garden cleanup last week and several at the community garden, many that were already much larger and lusher than any of the other cold hardy perennials growing there. And all of that despite the fact that this is my third year diligently removing every plant I find!
Now is the time to remove this highly invasive plant while it is still small and easy to pull. We learned the hard way last year that by May the roots are already enormous and deeply set. I took the above photo of an entire plant just a few days ago and the roots were already substantial.
Here’s what the plant looks like right now. In the early stages it looks more like a common violet, but the distinctive garlic smell is unmistakable. Here are some photos of later stage plants for identification.
When removing the plant, be sure to pull up as much of the root system as possible. Pull when the soil is moist and loose and use a weeding tool if you have to. Destroy the plant, roots and all — do not put it into the compost bin! Or better yet, eat it. As I’ve mentioned before, that distinctive garlicy smell and flavor lends itself to all kinds of uses.
A jar of garlic mustard root “horseradish” that we made last spring.
My favorite way to eat it is lightly sautÃƒÂ©ed with some butter; however, we have tried making it into pesto by simply whizzing the leaves up in a food processor with a splash of olive oil and salt, and grating the roots into a horseradish substitute. The pesto is a bit bitter raw, I prefer it cooked. I’m thinking of using this year’s harvest to make “garlicy” mashed potatoes. The fake horseradish was okay, but since it took us several hours work washing and grating thin roots, I wouldn’t recommend it.
I’m a bit of a closet African violet fan. More than any other plant, African violets seem to have a demographic, and I am very much not it. My interest began with the success I had with a couple of plants while living in a dorm room in my first year of university. I already had the plants and didn’t think much of them until I discovered that they loved the hot and humid environment in my room. From that point on I have always had at least one. I currently have six, which is all the space I can afford to dedicate to them.
If I had more space you can bet I’d have lots more. I’m addicted to the variegated varieties with frilly leaves. I can’t resist the African Violet Society tables at events like the CNE. The society sells leaf cuttings of all sorts of interesting varieties for easy propagation — only 2 bucks a pop. All but one of my current plants were acquired in this way. These days I just repeat the mantra, “Walk away, don’t even look at those cuttings.” and buy another bulb I don’t have space to plant at the bulb booth instead.
I took this photo of what looks like a Kalanchoe daigremontiana aka Mother-of-thousands about a month ago in Austin, Texas.
I have one of these growing indoors in a pot. This warm climate native would never survive our cold Toronto winters. Or rather, I should say that I have thousands growing indoors in a pot since anyone who has grown this extremely drought-resilient succulent plant knows how apt the common name really is. Each serrated leaf is lined in several tiny plantlets, which eventually drop off and take root wherever they can. I’ve found them trying to grow into the carpet!
Don’t onion seedlings make you think of tiny little alien tentacles or periscopes rising up from the soil?
p.s. If you sow too much, the sprouts are edible, too.
The other day, I bought a Venus Fly Trap (Dionaea muscipula) for the greenhouse. There is an issue with whitefly and I figured perhaps a carnivorous plant will act as a botanical guard dog and keep them away from our part of the greenhouse.
Well, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it. By that logic I should have bought one for every shelf. At least I’ll have an excuse if I happen upon any sundews for sale. Unfortunately, that almost never happens. I love sundews most of all.
I had to take the fly trap home with me tonight because there wasn’t any distilled water at the greenhouse, but I found a bottle on the way home and will be returning the plant next week. Until then she is sitting on my desk and needs a name.