Weeding around Broome
Part of the work that SKIPA members do is weeding, as weeds are an increasing problem around Broome and in the Kimberley generally. If we can get everybody involved, then weeding would be a lot easier – the more the merrier!
The dry season is the time to get onto those weeds and take advantage of them while they are dormant.
Weeds like Caltrop, Passiflora, Hyptis and Siratro can be removed but make sure to get the root out with the plant.
One way is to wet the soil around the plant, let the water soak in for ten minutes, then come back and pull it out. The pindan soil is dry and compacted without rain, but with a little moisture it quickly loosens up, allowing you to extract weeds.
Weeding in the Wet
(January to March 2016)
This wet season has been a particularly dry one, with long gaps between rainy periods.
As a result it has taken the weeds a while to get growing vigorously and abundantly, but they are now greening up.
When the ground is moist after rain it is a good time to remove weeds by hand pulling.
If everyone does a little bit of weeding every day (especially after rain), we can make a dent in the numbers, and control some of the weeds around Broome.
The focus in the Wet is on weed species that germinate and grow fast. It is important to get onto them before they grow too big and start setting seed.
This herb has yellow flowers and spreads out across the ground in a radial pattern.
It grows nasty burrs with spines that get in bike tyres and thongs.
Hence, it tends to be common along the edge of paths and wherever people walk.
Generally caltrop is easy to pull out, but you might need gloves if the burrs have started to form.
This vine from South America grows fast and climbs up and through trees and shrubs.
The leaves have a distinctive smell and it has tendrils that wrap around objects as it climbs.
The round orange fruit contain seeds that are spread by birds and fruit-bats.
After the rain Coffee Bush seedlings are popping up everywhere. It is good to get them when they are small, before they take root properly.
Keep an eye out for the seedlings in areas where Coffee Bush dropped seed during the dry season.
The seed leaves (cotyledons) are relatively thick and the new leaves are pinnate (branched).
Coffee Bush (Leucaena leucocephala) seedlings
A vine that is growing profusely at the moment is Merremia. These vines have germinated and are pushing out growing stems that will attach themselves to plants and fences. Eventually they will grow in profusion and smother other plants.
However, with the soil being moist it is a perfect time to pull them out.
Group of young Merremia reaching for the sky
We are well into February now and the weeds are growing in profusion around Broome …
Bellyache Bush is a growing problem in town. Once again it is good to pull them out before they get too big and unmanageable.
Seedlings look like this:
then they get bigger ..
Eventually they will reach the size of a small tree, with robust stems. They have characteristic dark red flowers, green fruits and palmate (hand-shaped) leaves.
SKIPA members Ayesha (left) and Carla (right) weeding at Minyirr Park.