Death to Ragweed!

Posted by Karen in Day to Day, Work.
Wednesday, July 12th, 2006 at 8:20 pm

So I thought I would share a little bit about what I’ve been up to at work. For anyone who doesn’t know, I am working at a company that does ecological restoration as a field crew member. We go out to all of the sites and actually do the work that the company has been contracted to do. There are sites in various stages of restoration – some are brand spankin new, so we are tilling, seeding, mulching, planting, etc. Others are established and we are doing maintenance, like mowing, burning, or managing invasive species. And some sites require some kind of repair or improvement, like ravine repair to prevent gully formation or erosion control.

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve worked mostly at a site we call Empire (because it is in Empire Township). It’s a parcel of land that was restored from a farm field to a wet/mesic prairie, wet meadow and wetland as a water quality improvement measure. It is in it’s third year, and it is absolutely gorgeous. There are some amazing plants that are mature and well-established. However, as I’ve come to realize is the case everywhere, even though the plants we have put there are native, site-appropriate, hardy plants, they are fighting a tough battle against the bajillions of invasive species. The list of ones we’ve got out there includes canada thistle, bull thistle, red clover, sweet clover, common vetch, reed canary grass, and – dun dun dun… my own personal enemy – RAGWEED!

On a side note, I’ve known for a few years that I am massively allergic to ragweed pollen. Most people who suffer from allergies during late August are. But I’ve only recently learned what it looks like. And now that I know, I’ve made it my own personal mission to leave a trail of ragweed carnage everywhere I go. But I’ve discovered to my horror that it is really truly EVERYWHERE!!! When I walk Bruno around my very own neighborhood, I have to suppress panic attacks from all of the ragweed I see! And I’m not just talking little guys – we’ve got some knee-high stuff only two blocks away! So, as a service to the suffering masses, if you see either of the following plants, common ragweed or giant ragweed, pull it out, break it off, burn it, just kill it. Do it. 

Now. Moving on. So our tasks at Empire were to mow ragweed (some of which is as tall as me – ahhhhh!!!), cut and remove sweet clover, and herbicide canada thistle, bull thistle and red clover. I’m not big on chemicals in general, so I wasn’t very psyched about that part, but I do get that that is the best control method right now, and that it ensures the success and survival of the native species.

Anyway, when you herbicide you have to wear this attractive get-up: My coworker Andy and I are rocking a Tyvek suit, rubber gloves, rubber boots, and protective eyewear. So fashionable, and so comfortable on a blazing hot 90+ degree day like today. Sweat literally pours out of your gloves when you are done. Pours. Then you strap on a chemical pack that has a wand/gun thingy and go to town, spot spraying the bad guys. Sweet. This work allowed for plenty of quality alone time, during which I sang songs, day-dreamed about the north shore and about ice water, and best of all, learned a ton about plants. Check it out:

Ok, so the picture totally doesn’t do it justice, but there is the wet prairie in all its mid-summer glory. There’s tons of swamp milkweed, false sunflower, cup plants, blue vervain, canada wild rye, black-eyed susans, coneflowers, and a million more things that I still have to learn. I’ve been trying to learn two new plants a day. Oh wait, hold the phone, what’s that big thing front and center next to the pretty swamp milkweed? GIANT RAGWEED! DESTROY!!!

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4 Responses to “Death to Ragweed!”

  1. MJ Says:

    You really are developing that killer instinct, aren’t you? I thought only centipedes brought that out in you.

  2. m Says:

    How cool! thanks so much for filling us in on what you do. It was very interestng, and I can imagine that it’s very rewarding work. It also sounds difficult, hot, and sweaty! The wet prairie picture was beautiful(despite the ragweed).

    I wonder if ragweed (the enemy) is as common in Colorado as in Minnesota??

  3. m Says:

    I just got back from walking Regan, and there was ragweed all over the place. So I guess I’ve answered my own question about it being in Colorado.

  4. TeknoFunk Says:

    Death to ragweed !! I suffer the same allergies and this year’s ragweed in Colorado 2006 is horrible. I told it to meet me in the alley at 2am to settle this once and for all, but it didn’t show, instead it decided to jump me all month long ! I’ll do the same as you and kick it’s ass where ever I see it and yes it’s everywhere. Anyway, just wanted to let you know, you’re not alone.

    Denver, CO