The Problem with Privet (everything)

Just over a year on the farm and our usual weekend activity is battling invasive plants. Chinese wisteria, this is an endless problem but it’s getting somewhat under control. Brambles, getting better. Bradford pear/callery pear, we’ve made a huge dent. Another difficult plant is the Chinese privet (Ligustrum sinense). It’s everywhere. Privet can be planted as an ornamental plant, sheared into lovely hedges but left unchecked it takes over. We have many areas where privet has been growing for some time…

Privet appears to be a favorite of our local hornets. They strip a little bark and feed on sap and fibers to create their paper nests. Too bad they can’t do enough stripping to destroy these plants…

So we move around clearing random privet areas on different weekends. We cleared a significant amount for our bamboo area but still have some more to do. The bamboo area is looking good and we’re excited to see it grow. The bamboo we planted could be invasive but we did not plant any of the “golden bamboo” which is considered one of the most aggressive varieties.

So back to privet clearing. We worked this weekend on a corner of our smallest pasture. There used to be a barn here and all that’s left are some foundations, liquor bottles and some found objects. We’re pretty sure that as we clear, we’ll find some more interesting items. The old barn area is covered with privets and was well hidden by a large Bradford pear. Pond builder took down the huge tree and we moved our fire pit over the stumps. Now we are slowly clearing areas near the old barn and around the pasture’s tree line. It will take us a few months to clear everything but the evergreens we uncover should start to grow much better.

the lower photo was taken this spring when he started on the beastly tree
the barn goes back further into the undergrowth

I have a new agricultural experiment starting on the farm – camellia sinensis v. sinensis ‘small leaf’ – tea plants. Co-located with the bamboo nursery in Chapel Hill is Camellia Forest Nursery. They have several camellia greenhouses, offer tea growing workshops, tea tasting and support many local tea growers. I was too tired the day we purchased bamboo so I did a little research and ordered five plants online. Green tea, white tea, oolong tea and black tea all come from the same tea plant. (I thought there were different tea plants for each.) The difference occurs in how the tea leaves and buds are processed. I’m reading through a guide about growing tea and we’ll see how these first plants fare. They may not be in the most ideal spot but we’ll see. I have some other spots around the farm in mind. I’m thinking these five little plants might offer me two or three cups of tea next spring. They are supposed to like living under evergreens in a well drained area. There seems to be a lot of complicated pruning directions as well. Pond builder is worried that he might accidentally brush mow them down. I’ll have to stay on top of weeding around these plants.

Aside from gardening, there are always chores…

splitting and stacking wood
Getting tires fixed – these holes were caused by the Bradford pear progeny – callery pears super sharp spikes
counting turkeys
Making sure the koi are all happy. Pond builder brought the grow lights down on his last trip and installed over the pool. I love grow lights because it makes the water look better and the koi seem much more active. It will also help the koi keep their coloring.
Avoiding the falling black walnuts. They are quite large and once on the ground they are an ever present opportunity to twist an ankle.
I also purchased a kid size mountain bike to ride through our forest trails. 😂

I think we are getting closer to groundbreaking for the real koi pond. Maybe late October. We have to do a few annoying things like getting a quote, ordering the material and finding a contractor. Meanwhile we’ll continue to stay busy with the endless groundskeeping tasks.