Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Removing Chinese Tallows

We have a pretty, fast growing tree in our backyard

                               - and I want it dead!

                               No, I'm not an evil tree hater, it's just my protective instinct coming out.

When I saw its beautiful fall colors last year, I gave in to my husband's wish to keep this tree in our year. But, this year, I have done some research and now am armed with a shovel to save our backyard ecology!!

Chinese Tallow tree also known as the Popcorn tree, Triadica sebifera and Sapium sebiferum; native to Asia.
  Don't let it's light, happy, heart shaped leaves fool you, this tree is a killer.  
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These are beautiful, sweet smelling and look at how fast they grow! Beautiful fall colors, lite happy heart shaped leaves.  Well, that’s the danger. it is a real danger to our small woods and beyond. It grows faster that most native trees and it now about 25% of the local tree population.

There is this one that just started a couple years ago – getting as tall as the pines this year.

Then look how quick its little minions are spreading around the yard. 
This one I just noticed last year, and now its taller than me.

Chinese Tallows were first introduced on South Carolina in 1776 for ornamental purposes and seed oil production. (some uses are candle wax and bio diesel). They were introduced in Central Texas as a landscape plant to add fall color since fall color is rare in Texas.

These trees are a serious threat to the native vegetation. Most plant eating animals do not consume the leaves. The leaves have a high quality of acidic tannins. They can be difficult to control since it can regrow from its roots as well as seeds. Birds will consume and distribute their seeds as far as they travel. There is no biological control, only chemical options. So for now, we will pull up and chop down.

Introducing exotic plants causes problems, changing the ecology for generations, causing a drain on the native plants. Texas and other states have a list of noxious plants which makes it illegal to sell these plants. Chinese tallow is considered noxious in the lower 48 states. As of January 6, 2005, it is unlawful to sell, distribute, or import any live form of this plant into the State of Texas! We need to tell this to the birds distributing their seeds.

It's not just our backyard, our new church property is covered with these guys, accounting for what seems to be 50% of tree population. Our local nature center had a work day to pull as many of these little invaders out as we could. We pulled and pulled but still only were able to work in a small area.   

I grew up in the south, where we saw the vine we called "the plant that ate Georgia": Kudzu. I remember driving through that state feeling bad for the forests completely covered by this enormous vine on top of their formerly diversified beautiful forests. I don't want Chinese tallow to take over our local forests and be the only tree we can see. An article warning that it could eat Houston...here.

So here's my slogan:


Support biodiversity - dig up a Chinese Tallow!



Sunday, March 18, 2012

Garden: ready, set, GROW!!

We have been working on making the garden secure from deer and safer from snakes, hidden spiders and ants. Craig built an electric fence, the kids and I mulched around a border. We can add a screen across the top to soften the strong Texas sun in summer. 
We planted everything already established yesterday and Little Miss and I planted the rest of the seeds today. She ensured we had plenty of seeds per section of dirt. We have a little herb garden next to the house with cilantro, mint, basil and rosemary.
I can't wait for fresh vegetables from our garden! We had such disappointment last year with the drought and the deer so desperate for anything green, we weren't able to get but a few tomatoes and cabbage. A new spring garden always lifts the spirit with hope.

Our garden is green: solar panel for the electric fence.
 No one is getting in unless they have hands.
Peppers starting - usually a deer favorite. 
squash 
a cabbage is almost ready...
 a future tomato
  The kids play area is fairly close to the garden and the electric fence. The older kids know how to turn it off so no one gets a shock.
 Now, we've done our part,  no pressure - but GROW!!!
 Bean plants poking up...
Onions and we'll be adding carrots soon. 
 Stay out deer!!


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Pope Benedict on Education











As you know, the task of a teacher is not simply to impart information or to provide training in skills intended to deliver some economic benefit to society; education is not and must never be considered as purely utilitarian. It is about forming the human person, equipping him or her to live life to the full – in short it is about imparting wisdom. And true wisdom is inseparable from knowledge of the Creator, for “both we and our words are in his hand, as are all understanding and skill in crafts” (Wis 7:16).


http://www.thepapalvisit.org.uk/Replay-the-Visit/Speeches/Speeches-17-September/Pope-Benedict-addresses-Teachers-and-Religious

Monday, March 5, 2012

"Don't Give Up"


If you've tried and have not won,
Never stop for crying;
All that's great and good is done
Just by patient trying.

If by easy work you beat,
Who the more will prize you?
Gaining victory from defeat,
That's the test that tries you.

--Phoebe Cary