Red Bucket Farm is an urban farm on a quarter acre property in an average residential neighborhood. We are located in Wisconsin, USDA Zone 5. We focus on chickens, bees, orchard fruit, and raised garden beds for fruits and veggies. We hope to reduce our footprint on the planet by growing some of our food, reducing our use of fossil fuels, and gardening with sustainable practices. Thanks for visiting!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Warning: Garlic Mustard

In the photo above, can you see the little white flower in the foreground? It looks pretty harmless, doesn't it? It's called garlic mustard and it came to the New World with our European ancestors who grew it like any other herb. In Europe, garlic mustard has natural predators to keep it in check, but on this side of the pond the stuff goes crazy.
The woods immediately behind my house are overrun with garlic mustard. In the photo above, you can see that literally nothing else grows in the understory. I've hand weeded that very plot only to find it overgrown again the following spring. One teeny garlic mustard flower produced gazillions of seeds. This wicked invasive is crowding out our native wildflowers and so far there is no solution to the problem.

At this point, it's my goal to keep garlic mustard out of my yard and garden beds, but it's not easy. I'm even pulling the stuff out of the raised bed in my greenhouse! Garlic mustard can't be composted because its seeds won't cook properly in the heat of the compost pile. Garlic mustard must be sent to the landfilled in sealed bags. It comes up quickly in the spring. I find it green beneath the snow in February. It's blooming now and will reach it's peak in the next month or so. At about three feet tall, you simply can't miss it. By the end of June, it all dies down and allows us to foget about it for a while, but it will be back next year with a vengeance.

I try to not let it get me down. Controlling it seems hopeless, but I can't give up hope. If you see the nasty stuff, pull it out by its roots and throw it in your garbage can. Perhaps someday there will be a better solution. Meanwhile, we need to protect our native wildflowers by hand.


  1. Amazing... too bad there isn't a use for the stuff. Would goats eat it up? Our goats ate poison ivy.


    Check out this page. They are using goats to eat garlic mustard.

  2. Garlic mustard is edible if you like strongly flavored herbs, there are pesto recipes for the stuff. Goats are supposed to like it -- mine like actual garlic, but it ruins the milk