Friday October 23 marked Ontario Nature’s annual garlic mustard pull at our Lost Bay Nature Reserve near Gananoque. With the help of several Queen’s University students and volunteers from Willing Workers on Organic Farms, we filled three garbage bags with these stubborn plants that are threatening to invade the reserve.
Garlic mustard is an invasive plant that was introduced to Ontario by European settlers who valued its great taste and medicinal qualities. If this tenacious plant has shown up where you live, consider organizing a garlic mustard pull to keep it from spreading. And be sure to save some of the leaves to add to your favourite recipe, or check out ours for inspiration!
To organize your own pull, you will need:
The Biodiversity Education & Awareness Network’s Garlic Mustard Removal Protocol A group of volunteers Garbage bags Gloves Brushes for cleaning your boots A patch of garlic mustard (reserve 3 cups of small leaves)
Directions: You can identify garlic mustard by its toothed, heart-shaped leaves, growing in basal rosettes in the fall and winter. When in doubt, crush the leaves to release its pungent garlic aroma!
To remove garlic mustard, you can either cut the stems where the lowest leaf attaches, or you can pull the entire plant up, root and all. The best time to remove garlic mustard is in the spring before it goes to seed, and again in the fall. For removal and disposal tips, follow the guidelines in the protocol.
And if all of your hard work makes you hungry, consider whipping up a tasty batch of garlic mustard pesto for lunch.
Dana’s pesto recipe: (Note: recipe is provided for informational purposes only)
¼ c. walnuts or pine nuts (optional) approx. ½ c. olive oil pinch of salt ¼ c. parmesan cheese, grated French baguette sliced thinly on diagonal and toasted a crispy golden-brown.
Crush the clean, towel-dried garlic mustard leaves in a food processor. Add nuts, if using, and blend. Drizzle in olive oil and blend until desired consistency is reached. Mix in cheese and salt to taste. Spread on warm toast or pasta.
Sepi Ghafouri is Ontario Nature’s nature reserve conservation intern. She graduated with a BSc in ecology and environmental science from the University of Toronto, and completed a post-graduate diploma in environmental management at Niagara College. Sepi enjoys travelling and the outdoors, and is always looking for opportunities to combine the two.