Volunteer Dave Raworth shovelling dirt on to an Oak Bay News “lasagna mulch” that is used to minimize regrowth of invasive plants such as prickly gorse on Anderson Hill. (Photo by Christina Johnson-Dean)

Old newspapers used in fight against invasive plants

Past editions of Oak Bay News make for great ‘lasagna mulching’

A group of local volunteers found an innovative way to recycle old editions of the Oak Bay News, putting it to good use in the fight against invasive plants.

Christina Johnson-Dean and Dave Raworth are volunteers who have been using old Oak Bay News editions for “lasagna mulching” on Anderson Hill Park since 2012 to “minimize regrowth of invasive plants like prickly gorse,” Johnson-Dean said.

“First the plant is cut back, then newspaper is laid on top, next goes a layer of soil (provided thanks to Oak Bay Parks), and finally, repeat two more times.”

READ MORE: Greater Victoria Green Team invade Anderson Hill Park

Lasagna mulching was first tried on Anderson Hill in 2012 by Monterey middle school’s Ecokeepers, led by teacher Mark Brown and assisted by Anderson Hill volunteer coordinator Johnson-Dean as well as Friends of Uplands Park steward Margaret Lidkea.

Now, Raworth is on a campaign to curtail the regrowth of gorse, said Johnson-Dean.

“Many people with dogs and children use the park so the decision was made to put in more effort to physically reduce invasive plants, rather than resort to chemical herbicides,” Johnson-Dean said. “Broom and gorse like sunlight, so by covering the plants with newspaper and soil, a shaded environment is created.”

READ ALSO: Visitors to Anderson Hill encouraged to play pick up sticks

Saturday morning volunteers, including Harry Hirsch, Jackie Bird and Gail Miller, have been cutting back the ivy along the Centennial Trail while there is also work to remove and reduce the spread of gorse is at the crest of Anderson Hill.

The Greater Victoria Green Team and students from Monterey, Oak Bay High, Glenlyon Norfolk School and St. Michaels University School have all contributed in removing thick ivy from the Garry oak branches over the past year. It’s also removed from the ground to discourage it from growing back. Blackberry and spurge (or daphne) are also removed.

“The result is beautiful fields of granite rock, shrubs [such as Oregon grape, Saskatoon berry and Indian Plum, which bears blue berry], giving the hill its colloquial name ‘Blueberry Hill,’” Johnson-Dean said.

It’s been a late season but the Indian Plum was the first to flower and is now followed by Satin flowers and fawn lilies. Beds of edible miner’s lettuce cover sections of the forest floor.

reporter@oakbaynews.com

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