Sunday, 30 October 2016

Himalayan balsam in 2016

10th September 2016

Himalayan balsam is quite a difficult plant to manage and eradicate. We know this very well as al we've been trying to do this since 2009. This year from 15th July to 24th August with the #bagsofhelp funding we've undertaken some 381 volunteer hours tackling its emergence.

It doesn't stop there though. You have to painstakingly go over the same areas getting rid of any that you may have missed, some which were snapped off rather than pulled fully out the ground and have re...grown flowers and finally smaller plants which have germinated after you tackled the area. All of these would re-seed and you'd have more fresh seeds in the seed bank. This is what I've been doing over the last week in the evenings largely with our scythe in 5.5 volunteer hours see map below. The top section took 23 hours for me to initially clear by hand, scythe and brushcutter. It took just 25 minutes on Tuesday to walk that whole patch handpulling each of the 30-40 plants.

Another advantage of hand-pulling is you are selective to balsam and leave other native flowers for pollinators and insects which feed on these plants. In the last week, I've been much less careful as the density of balsam plants is now very low and the other native flowers have seeded (good things for the seed bank) and are dying off. This means I can cover a much bigger area, sweeping at the base of the balsam plants with the scythe. If we hadn't pulled so much already this year, many of those 10,000's of plants would have partially cast seeds down by now, which is the position we have been in for the last 4 years where we've frantically just smashed down as many plants as possible. We are really hopeful that we've made a real big difference this year.

Quick, but critical to go over these patches
Quick, but critical to go over these patches


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