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053 – Toby Hemenway on Native Plants

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Paul Wheaton and Toby Hemenway, author of Gaia's Garden, talk about native plants. Toby shares about preferring native, and then, when the native doesn't do the job, bringing in plants known not to be a problem or take over.

He shares about various exotic plants. Purple loosestrife cleans up pollution, attracts native pollinators--clean the water and it will go away on its own. Kudzu, well-known in the south for taking over, is there to repair the soil, and lets us know there's a problem that needs to be dealt with. Repair the soils, and the kudzu dies back.

Black locust (not honey locust) is a nitrogen fixer and shares its nitrogen with other plants. Paul shares a story of Bill Mollison planting honey locusts in a ghost town and the town coming back to life. The next generation of honey locusts had thorns, however, and the community is now paying $100,000 to get rid of the trees.

Toby discusses managing bamboo--a plant meant to be in relationship with human beings, as well as how native planting in your yard may not be useful compared to growing what you eat, thereby saving native areas from encroaching farmland elsewhere. Scott's broom loves disturbance and sun. It will show up in cleared areas, and especially after you attempt to yank it out! The solution to scott's broom and many other invasives is to plant trees.

Paul brings up knapweed, which is an allelopathic invasive that folks in Missoula have been addressing by spraying. Toby mentions the relationship between herbicide representatives and native plant circles. Paul brings up the misleading title of "noxious weeds," and shares the definition. He finishes by sharing about Allan Savory's recent presentation on reversing desertification, and the importance of grazing.

Relevant Threads

Native Plants in a Forest Garden
All Things Bamboo
Replacing Irrigation With Permaculture

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