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GREENFOLKS GARDEN JULY 08

WEB ONLY CONTENT • Greenfolks Garden Notes by Sarah Moore “In memory of Walter Kmet, a proud Riverwest resident since 1962 whose passion for gardening brought him much joy. His hope would be that this garden also bring you joy.” These are the words on a memorial stone that has been added to the Greenfolks Garden. In Walter’s honor his son Ken Kmet, of KWK Electric, made a generous contribution for purchasing the plots from the city last year. Already Walter’s hope and spirit have come true for me and my family – the joy the garden has brought us is immeasurable. I am sure I speak for many in the community when I say, “Thank you, Walter and Ken.” And now on to more serious matters, I am going to admit here in this public forum that I break the law and trespass on other peoples’ property…to weed. And worse yet, bad mother that I am, I have also taught my son to do this. Our enemy is garlic mustard. When we walk across Riverwest and we see a yard with just a plant or two we run up and yank them out – with or without permission. Sometimes we ring doorbells of yards that look cared for and tell the people what a nasty, invasive weed they have. More than one new gardener had been letting it grow because they didn’t know what it was and thought its green leaves were attractive or that it might be a nice perennial. However, we don’t always take the time to ring bells, and for this we apologize. We are obsessed and despise the future we imagine of garlic mustard around every bush and tree and beside all the houses except for the few homes where gardeners spray poisons or are fanatic weeders. Three years ago at the Greenfolks Garden we had a number of garlic mustard plants show up near the back of our plot. I walked around our neighbors’ fence and – sure enough – there were quite a few plants. The neighboring plot is owned by an absentee landlord who had been supportive of the garden so I felt very comfortable stepping among the forgotten day lilies and pulling the dreaded pest of a plant. I got to it before it went to seed and have been very diligent weeding up any stragglers for the last few years. This year I only found two plants in our whole plot, and none in the neighbors’. Garlic mustard is spreading through Riverwest and Milwaukee. There may come a day when we look back fondly on weedy yards of dandelions, plantains, violets and creeping Charlie. But until then it would be great to have more people join the fight, If you don’t have a yard and think weeding such a fun foe might be something you enjoy, the river trails are full of it and a battle is currently being waged by many volunteers and nature lovers. If you have kids get them involved, since fighting this weed is a great way to channel their natural destructive urges! Every child I have ever taught to recognize this plant has continued weeding it with glee.  Although garlic mustard is fun to hate I also have come to have an odd affinity for it since I heard someone call humans the mammalian weed. Garlic mustard and people have a lot in common. Like us, garlic mustard spreads wherever it can and takes over, ruthlessly pushing out almost every other species. So I will hate it and I will forgive it as I hope others will forgive me, for being an invasive weeding neighbor. For more info contact me or join the Urban Ecology Center’s “burdock brigade.” There is also plenty of information on line. As of print time there is still room in our July kids activities in the garden: Yoga Kids and Story Time. Contact or call 975-2521.