Two a Day: revenge of the silverleaf nightshade

Week two of my grand plan to work in the yard for two hours a day, Monday through Friday, was grossly abbreviated. I was visiting my parents in Washington until Wednesday so it was a happy reason but I was still only able to do two days of yard work this week. I tried to think of the thing that would make the most impact in such a short time and what I came up with was drawn from the comments of last week's post; kill the silverleaf nightshade! I already cleared the alley behind my house of the stuff but there was a generous swath of its nastiness in my yard.

Silverleaf Nightshade (Solanum elaegnifolium) is one member of the axis of weedy evil in my yard, the other two are Chinese Elm and Tree of Heaven. It's good to get the nightshade out, I know it will come back but the only way to get rid of it is sheer persistence so...

Thursday:
Pure weeding. I used a shovel to loosen the dirt as far down as I could then pulled the nightshade and picked up as many of the queasy, sickly-looking seeds as I could. Nightshade spreads through seeds, rhizomes and root fragments so I wanted to be as thorough as possible in my removal. I ended the day's yard work lightheaded and happy to see my 11am end time. I went inside and put in a call to New Mexico One Call, they contact the handful of utility companies who come out to mark their underground lines. I plan to put in an area of flagstone soon so I'll need to dig and don't want any untoward accidents or the liability that would go along with them.

Friday:
A far more productive day than I expected. I got the nightshade pulled in the first hour so I dug out a rotten old tree stump, took last years' pomegranates off the tree, and moved the railroad ties that were acting as a border into the alley-which is also where I put the old easel, the kitchen window screens, the random lumber, and the bi fold doors that you might notice in the before photos below (I'm sure my neighbors won't be so pleased about my alleyway storage solution but I'll get rid of it all soon.)

before and after looking at the garage


before and after looking at the fence


here is what my alley looks like now


Notes to self from this week:
DON'T forget to eat breakfast before you spend two hours working in the sun, that dizziness, yeah, that was your own fault.
DO remember to use the neti pot after you work, because ick if you don't.
DON"T move railroad ties on your own. We all know how big and strong you are and so smart because you pivoted and dragged the really big ones but just suck it up and ask a friend for help next time.

Views: 77

Comment by mombat on June 19, 2009 at 11:40am
You go, Spring! The battle of the nightshade is long and hard and yes eat before you work. Yell if we should drop off some muffins so you can kept your strength up. The after pic looks great.
Comment by Mary Schmidt on June 19, 2009 at 12:08pm
I've decided that some of the weeds are "native plants" - and let me know if you need any zucchini!

Dig on!
Comment by Kat on June 19, 2009 at 6:33pm
Tree of Heaven has become the bane of my existence since buying our house last fall. They should have called it Tree of Hell!
Comment by Christie Mc on June 19, 2009 at 9:56pm
I just learned about the Tree of Heaven, and have noticed that I have 3-4 volunteers, each less than 2 feet tall, growing amongst the foxtails in my backyard. From all the talk, sounds like they might be invasive, so I should prob. try to pull the volunteer buggers up.
By the way, Spring: your before & after pics show great progess--keep it up. You've inspired me some to get out back & do some yard work.
Comment by Ben Moffett on June 19, 2009 at 10:35pm
I know Tree of Heaven to be invasive. Less invasive, but of similar characteristics (they spread but can be controlled and have beautiful orange colors in th fall) is staghorn sumac See in on Internet. I can give you a start.. The name comes from the new limbs of the tree which feel like the velvet on a stag's antler). P.S. the photo indicates you have a large nightshade problem. So do we all, I guessI.
Comment by FactWino on June 19, 2009 at 11:49pm
I think trees of heaven wouldn't be quite so bad if they didn't stink. And drop so much seed. And sprout anywhere. And grow back from the roots if you cut down a tree of any size, making them impossible to get rid of if they get established. Other than those things, though...
Comment by Spring Griffin on June 20, 2009 at 1:11pm
Thank you to everyone for the kind words and thanks for the offer Mombat, I never say no to muffins! Ben, I snagged that photo from a web page about silverleaf nightshade. My nightshade problem is bad but not quite as bad as that photo ;-)
Comment by Ben Moffett on June 21, 2009 at 8:56am
Well, you've inspired me to return to the front lines against the nightshade, but with the same weapon -- a hoe. I'm not kidding myself that it's a logical defense but it has a temporary cosmetic effect. Also, the nightshade struck back when I tried to pull one by hand and without gloves, reaching down into the sand below the stickers -- or so I thought.
Comment by Adelita on June 21, 2009 at 10:02am
Tree of Heaven? I've always known them as Go To Hell trees! At least that's what my neighbor calls them. I have a large one in my front yard that I've decided to keep because it provides so much shade. But I battle the sprouts constantly. And yeah, FactWino, they really stink!
Comment by Zoe on June 23, 2009 at 11:41pm
The "Tree of Heaven" is one of the main reasons I finally left my beautiful North Valley adobe. But, I kind of felt nostalgic when I saw the photo...

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