Ground ivy has been taking over our back pasture. Also known as creeping charlie, gill-over-the-ground, or run-away-robin, Glechoma hederacea is dreaded by lawn lovers. It is aggressive, invasive, and spreads rapidly wherever it can find a bit of ground to send its stolons over. It gets so thick that it chokes out everything else.
All things considered, I think it's an attractive little plant. Personally I wouldn't mind if it did take over our front yard "lawn", so that we wouldn't have to waste our time every couple of weeks knocking the seed heads off the weeds with the lawn mower. It would make a lovely, easy care ground cover. The suburban crowd hates it, however, and apparently the best of their weed poisons can't get rid of this stuff.
It was brought to my country as a medicinal plant by early settlers from Europe. Medicinally it has been used as a diuretic, astringent, tonic, and mild stimulant; traditionally used in kidney diseases and for indigestion. Nutritionally it is said to be a source of vitamin C. It's culinary uses include cheese making (as a vegetable rennet, which I'll have to try), in tea, soups, salads, as a pot herb, and in beer making.
The problem is that livestock won't eat it and, as we're experiencing, it can totally take over and destroy good forage. We did, in fact, try to eliminate it with a front end loader two and a half years ago, when we prepared the area for pasture. The grasses and forage were doing fairly well until we had a long dry spell during the summer. Those began to die back and the ground ivy took advantage of the opportunity. It's discouraging to see it come back with a vengeance like it has.
I had been contemplating what to do. Herbicides are out, but there has been some promising research on using boron (i.e. borax) to kill it. My hesitation about that (as with vinegar for weed control) is #1, pH. Natural substances which kill by pH change can also kill things we want growing. #2 is not wanting to put too much boron into the soil because that can kill plants as well. (Both of these are considerations when using laundry greywater for irrigation.) So, what to do? Hand pulling difficult and nominal at best; likely a waste of time.
Enter the pigs. This is what I found in the pasture just the other day.
|I could see ground in the ground ivy!|
The Waldo and Polly had been rooting there and uncovered a whole lot of soil. They'd gotten their snouts under the ground ivy's shallow roots and rolled it up so that it looked like bunting to hang on a balcony as a parade decoration.
It was easy to pick up and remove.
Since it's time to plant winter pasture, I'd better get busy. I know the ground ivy will be back, but hopefully I can get some good winter forage growing for now.