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There will be members and park users who recall how we asked for help to eradicate this weed Balsroot.opt.400x400from our park, initially during the summer of 2013 with our apt named activity 'Balsam Bashing'. We uprooted and crushed all trace of the balsam [that we could see] over several weekends of intense 'pulling and bashing' [and fun] during that wonderfully hot summer and congratulated ourselves on a job well done at the end of it. We were somewhat perplexed when in mid-July of the following year the weed was back in such volume that it appeared as though the previous summer's work had never happened.

Five years later we are still 'Bashing Balsam' during the early summer months as we have in each of the intervening years. Admittedly, our efforts have not gone entirely unrewarded; it is visibly obvious that there has been a lot less Himalayan balsam in our park over recent years, meaning that at least we have it under some kind of control. Unfortunately, to keep it under control we have to spend at least 3 full activity days 'bashing' the weed into submission in June and early July.

Both our Conservation Day and WatersideCare Day on Saturday the 8th and Sunday the 23rd of June respectively will be devoted to removing as much of this weed from our park as possible. It is expected that the Conservation Day on the 6th of July will be spent similarly.

In theory, uprooting the weed is easy, one must reach down to the base of the stem, grip it just above reddish root cluster then pull gently but firmly upwards; it may be necessary to wiggle back and forth a little to help loosen the root system which is not at all deep or well spread out. Once free the whole plant should be taken at least two yards from the water or the wetland area, piled up and then thoroughly crushed by stamping on it.

This is always a part of the treatment that children love; the main stem is hollow and gives a satisfying squelchy-crackling sound as they jump up and down on top of the pile. The weed is then incapable of producing any seeds, each of which could have potentially grown into a single plant able to spread up to 800 seeds the following the year. Just to be absolutely certain the plant is really neutralized the crushed piles can be moved on to a nearby footpath, further away from the point of initial extraction and left for people to walk upon and crush it even further: it also helps if the footpath is out in the sunshine.

In reality, of course, it is not that simple, at least within our beautiful park. Our balsam seems to love areas that are overgrown and choked with nettles and brambles as though the plant itself makes it as difficult as possible for us to get to the base of its stem. Nevertheless, 'Balsam Bashing' is always great fun and we are hoping that, as well as coming along on the above mentioned days to help, you will take it upon yourselves to pull out and crush any Himalayan balsam weeds you come across in future - that are easily accessible, naturally.

D A B-P [04/06/2019]

updated: 6th; 10th & 12th June 2019









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