Upper Valley Girl Scouts Pull 900 Pounds of Garlic Mustard

Published: May 26, 2015

The 2015 Garlic Mustard Challenge

The invasive garlic mustard is a biennial plant that is flowering now and about to go to seed. During May, people across New England, the Midwest, and beyond have been gathering to pull garlic mustard out of natural areas, helping to restore native wildflowers and tree seedlings as part of the Garlic Mustard Challenge. These events are fun, effective, and build awareness of local conservation areas.

There is still time to pull garlic mustard before it goes to seed. If you have a patch, consider inviting friends or colleagues over for a lunchtime pull. Planning a staff meeting? A garlic mustard pull is a great team-building exercise and it gets people outdoors for some fresh air. If you do pull garlic mustard, be sure to post your results here. Also, bags of garlic mustard must be disposed of at a landfill or transfer station as waste. Composting will only cause it to spread. Best to work with your local public works folks to have a disposal strategy in place before pulling.

Several weeks ago, girl scouts joined forces with the Upper Valley Land Trust to pull 30 large bags—or 900 pounds—of garlic mustard from the Mink Brook Nature Preserve. Here is their story, provided by the Land Trust’s Stewardship Director, Jason Berard.

Upper Valley Girl Scouts Pull 900 Pounds of Garlic Mustard - by Jason Berard, Upper Valley Land Trust

Upper Valley Girl Scouts pulled off a successful botanical intervention when they rallied with UVLT staff and volunteers, the Hanover Conservancy, and the Hanover Biodiversity Committee to remove 30 large trash bags of garlic mustard from Buck Road and the Mink Brook Nature Preserve last weekend.

Doug Brown asking the group why we're pulling garlic mustard. The Girl Scouts really had a great understanding of how invasive species can change ecosystems!

Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) is an invasive herb that has spread throughout much of the United States that has become one of the worst invaders of northeastern forests. Garlic mustard can grow almost anywhere, but is most aggressive in rich, moist, shady locations where it forms dense stands. Garlic mustard is one of very few non-native plants to be able to successfully invade forest understories. Researchers have found that garlic mustard releases chemicals that hinder the growth of other plant species. Thus the plant’s spread will profoundly disrupt forest health and biodiversity.

A reminder of why we're doing this. Our goal is to make sure that the invasive plants are kept to a level where there is still room for the native plants species to grow and thrive. Here's a very lightly colored wake robin, or purple trillium that we came across in one patch that we were pulling.

For seven years, UVLT has been working with others to remove garlic mustard from our property on Buck Road and within the Mink Brook corridor. The May 9th gathering mobilized more volunteers on site than ever before, and sets the stage for ongoing youth engagement and intervention on behalf of healthy forests.

Thirty full contractor-sized trash bags of garlic mustard!

Thanks to the area Girl Scouts for lending a hand at the Mink Brook Nature Preserve's 7th annual garlic mustard pull !

Learn more about garlic mustard here.