The Mother Lode

When we purchased our vineyard property in Oregon, one of the stipulations from the Department of Forestry requires us to maintain the forest in areas not planted to vineyard.

Since the property was recently logged (before we purchased it), we had to plant 200 trees (Doug Firs) per acre and we must make sure they successfully grow and flourish.

Do you see all the yellow?  This is a shrub known as Scotch Broom, a real pain in the neck, out of control, invasive plant brought to the area during Gold Mining days.  The miners used the broom-like spiny leaves as a sort of bubble wrap for their whiskey shippers.  Long story short, the plant is now everywhere.

We have to remove all of it as it encroaches on the baby Doug Firs, shadowing them and killing them before they mature.

Do you think we have our work cut out for us?

This is the only time of year it flowers, putting out these beautiful yellow blooms.

Normally it is just green and spiny looking.  See it there behind the boys? 

We are going to be busy this summer.

Want to help?

One Year Ago Today:  An Amazingly Sad but True Story

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  1. We’ve got Japanese Knotweed in the UK which is a vicious plant. It overtakes everything else and stifles every other plant. It’s very bad as it reduces the doversity, but it can also eat through concrete … not a problem so much in the wild, but as it encoraches on houses it’ll just go through the paths until it gets to the houses.
    However I’ve just read that you can eat it! The young stems are edible as a spring vegetable, with a flavor similar to mild rhubarb.
    Well maybe I should try that – and then if it’s nice it can be harvested instead of hated!

  2. ntsc 2

    Actually I think I’ve got a couple of Scotch Brooms as decorative plants in the yard.

  3. My former inlaws in the PNW made the mistake of taking some of that from one of their camping trips, to plant as decorative plants in their yard in So. WA state and now they can’t get rid of it and it’s strangling out other plants in their yard. I’d feel sorry for them, but it’s against my better nature…like I said, they are my FORMER inlaws.

    You on the other hand I have genuine sympathy for! That’s a whole lotta broom you’ve got to deal with. I’ve heard you can sell it though as some people make decorative brooms out of the dried spines.

  4. HoneyB 4

    Reminds me of the horrible smoke weed (bamboo type weed that grows out of control!)we had in our yard that was a pain to get rid of. Actually, we never could get rid of it for good. Sure hope that is not the case with you!

  5. Yuck. Invasive plants are so horrid. We got all excited last year thinking we had water lilies on our lake. Turns out it’s an invasive aquatic plant that kills fish and other plants. It was dormant (and not visible) for the winter, but now it’s back. :-( Must call our POA to see what the latest plan is. I think the best plan is to have a pulling party. That might be a good idea for you guys, too, Cathy. Make some of your fabulous food, serve some wine, and invite a lot of friends with gloves ready to work!


  6. Julia 6

    Actually, I’d love to help! It’s always more fun to weed someone else’s garden.

    Great history of the weed! Fascinating.

  7. Could you do some controlled burning?

  8. What a pain. I feel sorry for you. That is one big job you’ve got on your hands.

  9. annbb 9

    Here in the Northeast, we deal with smothering Virginia creeper and bittersweet. Both pretty at certain times of the year, but they will completely smother and kill trees, bushes, whatever they’re growing over. And there kudzu in the south…and starlings…and sparrows…

    I do feel for you – certainly got your work cut out for you! Good luck!

  10. Ladywalker 10

    It’s Gorse, and it is a pain, but doesn’t it have a lovely coconut smell when it’s in bloom:) ?

  11. Bunny 11

    You’re certainly gonna have your hands full with that project!

  12. T 12

    I just found your blog and it’s wonderful! I will be back often.

    Ugh…..hate these invasive plants. I’m from the south and we are battling the Kudzu vine! Good luck!!!

  13. I’m on the other side of the US from you, so helping is not an option. Although, I would if I could.
    But I will be your cheering section in the southeast. GO, TEAM NOBLE PIG!!!

  14. Marlene 14

    I will help you anytime!!!!

    We have jelly fish…that’s our invasive pest.

  15. Oh that is a big job you got there. I think I am washing my hair that day or I would help!! We have our own Virginia Creeper to keep up with over here. It completely takes over if we are not careful. I hope you get lots of help!

  16. And here we buy Scotch Broom in the nursery to plant in our landscapes! I have a pink one in my front garden…it’s so pretty!

  17. Jacqueline 17

    Would love to help ya with that Scotch Broom, but I have a root canal that day.

  18. dawn 18

    if you cook for me I will help, yes ma’am!
    good luck with that…

  19. I’ll make ya a deal: I’ll come and help you clean out all of that brush if you come here and help me clean up after the next hurricane! Deal?!!?!

  20. I always think Scotch broom looks pretty from a distance. We have it growing in the wetlands across from our house. I’m grateful not to be alergic to it, it’s so prevelent in the Northwest.
    But you totally have a mother lode. Amazing.

  21. Marjie 21

    At least it isn’t kudzu, which grows upward and strangles everything. That was brought to Copper Hill, TN to hold the soil in place after the miners created sulfuric acid rain (really!) and killed everything. Now the kudzu kills everything. You just can’t win.

  22. Yes–you definitely have a lot of work ahead–but it will all be SO worth it!!

  23. Trisha 23

    Yikes! That seems like you have your work cut out for you! Hopefully you will have some power tools to help you out! Once you get rid of it – is there any way to keep it out?

  24. Mary 24

    It is invasive, Cathy and , yes, you do have your work cut out for you. BUT we were at King Estates this weekend and that flaming gold against the green in the far hills of the Lorane Valley was just gorgeous. Monet would have loved it.

  25. Lisa 25

    What fun! It is pretty when it flowers but it does look like a lot of work to remove it. The boys look ready to help!

  26. elra 26

    Would love to help for real. Always love to see the boys here Cathy.

    That’s very invasive, I hope that is not one of those shrubs that the roots go deep into the soil. It’ll be very challenging to pull out. Good luck, k!

  27. Marcy 27

    I’m not close enough to help, but if I were, I sure would come help!

  28. Cathy I feel your pain, in the lower part of my back to be specific. The property next to me was once the most beautiful tall grass meadows dotted with orchard trees and tall firs. Once the horses were removed from the pasture, the scotch broom took over–fields of gold indeed. I battle the stuff daily, just to keep it on the other side of the fence. Good luck, the good news is it does fix nitrogen to the soil I’m told (and you can still use it smuggle hooch from the Oregon territory).

  29. Bob 29

    Heh, I’d love to help! Just fly me out and give me a machete, a shovel and some wine. :)

  30. Oh dear, you’ve got your work cut out for you. That stuff has a nasty way of coming back relentlessly. Sorry

  31. LilSis 31

    Wow! Being from the South, I’m not familiar with those plants, but it does look like ‘back breaking’ work. I hope you end up getting some help!

  32. Oh wow, you have your work cut out for you for sure. Good luck and keep your mind on the end result. It’s going to be gorgeous when all is settled!

  33. Barbie with a T 33

    The Scotch broom is really pretty, but I know what a nuisance it can be. We have similar stuff down here in the South in some areas. They sure play havoc with other trees and shrubs.

    We made the banana oatmeal bake from your blog yesterday. It was scrumptuous. Definitely a winner. Thanks for that one.

    Your boys are adorable.

  34. Laurie 34

    Oh my! You do have your work cut out for you. Funny, I never thought of Scotch Broom as an invasive plant. People around here plant them on purpose as a garden shrub. But I have never seen so many in one place! Your land is so beautiful…

  35. Wow … you are going to be busy. If I lived a little closer, I’d bring Cathy and her crew along with mine to help tackle a piece of that project with you. Maybe I should send you gloves, band aids and some neosporin.

  36. KathyB. 36

    You DO have your work cut out for you! We too had to rid our property of the dreaded bushes when we started building. I paid my kids a nickel a piece for every bush but the bill for that work got steep!Then it became an assigned job with a set fee. Tiresome after a while, isn’t it?

    Ft. Lewis has to get rid of it en masse once a year as it grows on the training fields, etc., The fort hires a guy with a brush hog and it does the job pretty quick.

  37. I don’t envy you!

  38. I love the way it smells though. Sorry.

  39. Josie 39

    Who knew that was an invasive plant?! My mom has it planted as a decorate shrub in her garden here in Ohio. I was just admiring it yesterday :) Send some to Ohio!!

  40. Strangely, a lot of the invasive plants are not only edible, but healthy. Japanese Knotweed as you mentioned is what supplement makers use to create resveratrol supplements. Resveratrol is the antioxidant in red wine that’s linked to longevity.

  41. Sorry you have to get rid of all of that. You do indeed have your work cut out. I’d feel bad if it bloomed all year. It certainly does look pretty in bloom. It reminds me of the abundant gorse bushes in Ireland.

  42. Sara 42

    Wow, you will be busy. This takes gardening to a whole new level!

  43. Such pretty plants but a pest is a pest. If it’s gotta go!

    Why is it the ones we want to grow don’t propogate like that?

  44. Pam 44

    I love seeing it when driving around in the spring but I have so many friends who are terribly allergic to it. No fun.

  45. Biz 45

    Wow, that is a lot of work! If I lived near you I would help! :D

  46. Back when I lived in the greenest of greenie areas (Santa Cruz) we actually had a rip-out-broom-and-burn celebration. It is nasty stuff! I have a few bushes on my land here in the gold country, but most has already been done away with. Whoa! You’ve got your work cut out for you.

  47. Carol 47

    I live in Utah, and there is lots of sagebrush. I grew up in Silverdale, Washington and we had scotch broom. It’s kind of the greener version of sage brush. It’s only pretty when it flowers! You have your work cut out for you! Good Luck!

  48. Liz C. 48

    Hey, I’d definitely be up for a working vacation & just knowing I had a hand in the development and compliance of your vineyard! Will any bugs and/or insects be in attendance? ;-)

  49. Kate 49

    If I lived within driving distance, I would definitely help you! I’m serious, too.

  50. When I was on the ranch in Wyoming many moons ago, we had a weed called leafy Spurge, that would literally take over the river bank, if it wasn’t sprayed all the time. I wish you much success on your challenge!

  51. Okay, now I’m going to stop complaining about the little bit of weeding to do in my garden!

  52. Laura 52

    No. But I will clap when you are done.

  53. Going to be one busy summer!

  54. I told you before you needed a lot more sons! Get busy woman the clock is tickin!

    Scotch broom sucks. We have kudzu. Everywhere you live there is some kind of invasive something that environmentalists are legislating about. Not that they don’t have their point! However it can make people like you who are trying to make something wonderful like wine, happen, go broke with all the extra expenses.

    Burn it.

    Use Round Up and bulldozers.

    Find an old time farmer out there that knows what to do and do exactly what he says, even if it’s weird like have your boys pee on them.

    You know what I mean.

  55. V. cute boys. Are they good helpers?

  56. Dear Cathy,

    I love your blog; your recipes sound tasty, and what wonderful, informative, and beautiful photographs accompany the directions! Your kids are very cute, and I appreciate how you share your thoughts and life with us. Reading your blog is like getting a letter from an old friend, and I thank you for all of the attention you put into your writing.

    As far as the Scotch Broom goes, it’s a beautiful flower but unfortunately also an invasive weed. I found a PDF file that you might find informative. (Google search: eradicate Scotch Broom – first listing). From what I read there, here’s a condensed version of what I think your best course of action might be:

    1. Brush cut or mow down as much of it as you can while it’s blooming, either by hand or preferably (judging by the amount shown in the pictures) with large equipment.

    2. Get goats to eat as much of it as they can as well.

    3. Get chickens (and maybe guinea hens?) to eat the fallen seeds.

    4. Cut again in late summer to break up the root system.

    5. Consider controlled burning if the weather cooperates.

    6. Prevent plants from spreading by washing animals, boots, “hooligans,” or equipment that has been in infested areas.

    7. Herbicides may be considered if necessary.

    8. Or leave it there until it is dormant again (September – May) and harvest to sell to floral companies which use the green shoots in arrangements.

    Please make sure any animals or children don’t eat or suck on any of the flowers or other parts as they are toxic! ( link to ). On the other hand, maybe you can find a buyer who wants to use your harvested plants for medicine or floral arrangements? (Google: scotch brooms shoots – first listing).

    Anyway, good luck with those “weeds,” and keep up the great job on your blog! :)

    PS. Maybe make some “Scotch” food to take your mind off of it – shortbread, maybe? :) Mmmmm.

  57. Good golly. Welcome to our personal hell here in the PNW :) Good times :)

  58. Linda 58

    Well you’ll think I’m a total moron, but I actually planted Scotch Broom in my yard. On purpose! It was a part of a landscape design a friend of mine did … all these plants that attract bees and butterflies. It was very pretty in bloom. But come winter I pulled it out because it was getting to woody.

    Wish I could take a summer break and come and help you on the OR property! But most likely I’ll wait until you’re a producing winery … that’s when I’ll show up! LOL

  59. Kayola 59

    It looks beautiful in the pictures…but WOW…it looks pretty overwhelming! If I lived closer I would absolutely sign up to come and help….have I told you before…your boys are flipping adorable!

  60. imom 60

    Gah! That stuff is nasty and so many people are allergic. I don’t envy you that job at all!

  61. I’m used to weeding but not on that kind of scale. Good luck! (I’d be happy to help if I lived nearby.)

  62. Paula 62

    Oh my gosh, I’ve heard about that invader! It sure throws pretty color when in bloom, though. I think this may be beyond my boiling water to kill weeds method! You need a community service crew! Good luck!

  63. pam 63

    Good Grief! You definitely have a job to do!

  64. Flea 64

    I wish I could help! I love that kind of work. Have fun for me! :)

  65. Hilary 65

    Hi Cathy .. sounds like you have a very big (forever)job on your hands .. at least it’s broom .. not gorse (similar genus) .. but it’s much spinier.

    Weeds that have got out of hand as invasive species are terrible .. and we’re now “reaping the rewards” from past days .. no wonder we’re not allowed to take plants in and out ..

    Good luck is all I can say ..
    Hilary Melton-Butcher
    Positive Letters

  66. Annette 66

    Much as I’d love to lend a hand, we’ve got dog fennel making a major comeback, even though I ripped out tons of it last year. Not to mention the milky thistle, which for some reason this year in the gathering spot of choice of the squash bugs.

  67. I will have my husband come visit. I had 2 small patches of Scotch broom in my yard when I moved in.
    I liked the pretty little flowers, I had some pinkish ones & yellow ones.
    I don’t what happened, but scotch broom is one of the plants that died after my husband moved in. I can’t explain it. This man who had 20 years of gardening experience over my 2 killed my indestructible unkillable Scotch Broom. And my columbine. and something else, that I can’t think of right now.

    The upside is now, 5 years later I have a little bitty kitchen garden with tons of fresh herbs, tomatoes, hot peppers and lettuces.

  68. iris 68

    ohhhhh, I know those spiney broom plants. Yikes already, they were all over the island where I grew up.

  69. Tipper 69

    Wow-yes you have a job! Makes weeding my garden look like a breeze : )

  70. Laura 70

    Oy! And I feel like I have big gardening projects this summer!

  71. Katie 71

    I live across the valley from you, close to Silver Creek Falls. Our 17 acres used to look alot like that. When the kids were little I used to make them cut down 25 Scotch Broom every time they left the light on in their bedroom. That helped quite a bit, and saved electricity! Now we have goats, and they do a good job, however you will have to wait until your baby trees are bigger, or they will ravage them totally. Once you have your patch knocked down it is important to go out every May and cut down any yellow you see so they don’t go to seed. Good luck, and welcome!


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