Friday, January 25, 2013

Ligustrums, escargot and other intrigues

Yesterday afternoon, the sun came out and felt wonderfully warm. So I fetched my gloves and clippers and did a little work in the Wildscape. I concentrated mostly on ATTACKING the wax ligustrum. They are so so so invasive and mean. I cut them back, and they just happily resprout resprout resprout.

Whilst whacking, I came across several large snails. Uh, oh. Invasives, too. At least not native to the Hill Country.  (See my February 20, 2011, post on the topic. They can be eaten as escargot.)

You should kill it, I told myself.  

No, can't, sorry, I retorted.  

Then I threw it as hard as I could....right into a pile of brush as the edge of our yard. Darn.

I came across yet another one. Then an image flashed through my head....a photo a friend on Facebook had shared a photo of a snail infestation in her yard. I sure didn't want THAT! So I grimaced, set the snail on the compost pile, placed a piece of wood on it, and thenWHAM!!stepped on it. (Photo below of my dastard deed. Those are egg shells stuck to the smashed snail).  

I did the same with four more snails. I hate killing things, but sometimes it's got to be done. 

Like with ligustrums. Back to that. This morning, I emailed our Master Naturalist chapter and asked if vinegar poured on a stump will kill it for good. Here's what folks suggested:

* Our extension agent recommended using CLR shower cleaner as a stump killer.

* Our former president suggested I use Green Light Cut Vine & Stump Killer as a low-risk herbicide. 

* Bill L. recommended mixing a gallon of 20 percent vinegar with 2 ounces of orange oil and spray the stumps.

* Claire H. wrote, "We have had luck with cutting them as close to the ground as possible, cutting the roots and then painting  the cut areas with Round Up. You then need to cover the stumps with a black plastic bag and cover that with mulch so it looks good. We have not had our Chinese tallow return since we did this about six months ago and prior to that it kept sending up sprouts after about three weeks and they grew very rapidly. The tree was cut down three years ago, but just refused to die and I do not miss all the seedlings that it planted everywhere."

* George B. offered: "On the ranch we have found Roundup to be useful in controlling grasses (for instance, to control encroachment on our roads) and for some leafy plants but much less effective on woody plants (like poison ivy). Our biggest concern is what the locals call dry land willow, and unfortunately we have too much to ever hope to eradicate it. But we do try to control it in certain areas. We have found that Remedy mixed with three or four parts diesel fuel works very well. Treating woody stems works best when applied to a freshly cut stem or truck. We apply our mixture with a small brush directly to the freshly exposed cambium layer, which greatly reduces damage to nearby desirable vegetation." 

Thanks, everyone! We haven't decided yet what we should do....

During my trimming, I also came across these eggs attached to the dead blue mistflower foliage. That's one reason why I like to wait until later to trim and prune back. Because wildlife often uses the dead vegetation for shelter or other reasons.

Close up of eggs on mistflower.
Speaking of eggs, I was pulling dead stuff and green algae from the stock tank pond the other day when I happened to spot what looks like a bubble filled with eggs. I'm keeping an eye on it to see what happens.

And today, I spotted a caterpillar in the rue! What a lovely sight to see in January!


James said...

Never a dull moment with my sweet, funny, beautiful, wonderful, amazing........ wife!

Sheryl Smith-Rodgers said...

Weird's more like it! :-)

sandy lawrence said...

I don't know what their proper name is, but the long tubular looking snails kill the round 'escargot' ones. The round ones sort of dissolve after an attack. I've seen it with my own eyes and read it on gardening posts and in articles, as well. Hope you have some of those long ones, too!

I try to console myself with the fact that birds love the purple berries on ligustrums. Flocks of robins and cedar waxwings arrive next month here to strip the remaining berries. Someone years ago surrounded my property with a row of ligustrums that are now trees. I just have to live with them, cut out the dead wood when it occurs, and manually pull up about a gazillion seedlings each spring. Ugh.

Wonder if your pond eggs are frogs?

sandy lawrence said...

Perhaps you saw Jenny's timely blog entry on "When Good Snails Go Bad",

Sheryl Smith-Rodgers said...

No, I'll take a look-see, Sandy! And yesterday I looked for the eggs in our stock tank pond. But alas, I couldn't see them. That would be so cool if we did have frog eggs. But I was thinking maybe damselfly eggs. Maybe nuthin' now. Darn.

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