This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Mountain mint

I was able to identify another of the wild flowers in the catch basin in Iroquois Park. This little plant with tiny white flowers on the top is one of the mountain mints, probably Pycnanthemum virginianum but perhaps Pycnanthemum tenuifolium. It has a minty aroma when it is crushed and it is cultivated in flower and herb gardens.
 Below is a closer look at the flower heads.
 Judging from the base of the flower, I think the blazing star is Liatris spicata, which is either called Dense Blazing Star of Marsh Blazing Star.

 One of the invaders of the little area is the cottonwood tree. It likes damp conditions, and if it is not pulled, it may eventually overgrow the area, as small trees are overgrowing the wild flower area north of the high school.
If the trees grow for a few years, a weed wrench may be needed to remove them. My daughter-in-law got one this year and let me use it. It has a clamp on the bottom which you fit around the tree. Then as you pull back on the handle, the clamp tightens. When it is tight, all the effort pulling back is directed to pulling out the tree. It works best when the ground is wet as it is in the spring and it works pretty well on tress up to about two inches in diameter. Walnuts and ash have long tap roots and pull out pretty well. I had a hard time with hickories. Their roots seem to spread more. As you can see below, I was able to get out some trees that in the past I had just cut off, and they regrew the next year.
I pulled out dozens of trees that had grown up around the house and in the shrubs, but enough are left that I probably should borrow it again next year. (It is not a cheap tool.)

On a largely unrelated note, the folks at Fair Oaks Farms were hesitant to tell me details of their future plans, but they apparently are not so closed-lipped with others. My Illinois son sent me a clipping from the Northwestern Illinois Farmer, which does not have a web page. In a column called "Across the Fence" from August 28, the Stephenson County Farm Bureau manager told of his seventh visit to Fair Oaks Farms and detailed plans for the future. Fair Oaks Farms is planning to add one more dairy farm and not go beyond 40,000 cows. However, they also plan to add as part of the visitor experience a one million hen poultry layer operation, an aquaculture/hydroponics operation, and a beef operation. Also, plans are in place for a 18,000 square foot restaurant scheduled for May next year, Further in the future are plans for a 120 room hotel and water park with conference facilities. Finally, there will be a market selling fruit from 8000 fruit frees. They also want to treat their waste water in a way that will reduce the need for commercial fertilizers.

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