Back Forty

Races with Mosquitoes, or Nature abhors a vacuum

I’ve decided that my Indian name would be Races with Mosquitoes. The heat has arrived. I didn’t get as much done in the Back Forty during the winter months as usual due to my hip problems.

I’ve spent the morning ripping out ground ivy, my mortal enemy. I’ve noticed a few things about this pretty ground cover that I hate so much. One, it attracts bees at a time of year when I have little else in flower. Two, earthworms seem to adore it. I have seen some of the biggest earthworms ever coming out from where I just ripped out some ground ivy roots. If it wasn’t for high school biology, I might have mistaken some for small snakes. And as far as I know, it might just be better for my plants to leave it. I don’t know how many nutrients it takes from the soil and it is shallow-rooted.

As far as I’m concerned, however, one overriding reason fuels my hatred of this stuff. Mosquitoes love it. They breed in the moisture beneath those lovely leaves and flowers.

In permaculture, you observe the relationships between plants and other plants and animals, and you try to enhance the relationships that work. And you have to remember that if you remove a part of the natural landscape, something will come in to fill that niche.

For the Back Forty, it was ground ivy. We got rid of the grass, and mulched the permaculture way, with newspaper and cardboard. Turns out that ground ivy LOVES this way of mulching. It thrives on the old logs and wood chips I use in my paths. It will survive having cardboard layering over it by running, white and pale as a cave creature, under the cardboard under it finds a hole or edge. Then it rises gasping to the surface, and takes nourishment from all that mulch, and runs rampant over all my hard work.

God, how I hate this beautiful plant. I saw my first mosquito today. My race is coming to an end soon, and the ground ivy will have its victory, partnered with those nasty West Nile virus-carrying Asian Tiger mosquitoes. I will have fought the good fight though, and there will be less of them than there would have been if I had let the ground ivy have its way.

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