On a warm, sunny day before Christmas, I started pulling out a large bed of English ivy (Hedera helix) that had taken over the ground under several small, native pawpaw and sassafras trees. I wrote about our English ivy woes a few years ago. Someone planted the vine, and it escaped and spread. We have been fighting it for years, mostly by hand, since we don’t use chemicals. Glyphosate would take care of the ivy, but we don’t want to be responsible for the environmental consequences.
As I worked, I remembered a recent conversation with a friend. “Never leave bare ground,” she said, and she was correct. Bare ground erodes and the soil washes away. The American prairies once were covered with tall grasses, but years of plowing destroyed them, allowing the topsoil to blow away. All that was left was the giant Dust Bowl of the 1930s.
My removal of a 40-square-foot patch of English ivy wasn’t likely to cause a Dust Bowl, but my actions nonetheless had consequences. I destroyed a food ...
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