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Battling the Hydra: The Autumn Olive menace to a BOL, and how to combat it

BOL is shorthand for a bug-out location, and the expression is usually used for a spot out in the country where a family can get away from it all.  Some BOL keepers spend considerable thought on things like lines of sight and fire; some pay more attention to sustainable food production such as maintaining orchards or grazing area.  We do both out at The Place, on a long clearing that is both a prime deer/turkey hunting site and a very pretty and dear-to-my-biologists’-heart prairie remnant.

This long clearing is both lovely and a good hunting setup; if we can just keep the trees from eating it.

Here’s Public Enemy Number One for maintaining open fields, at least in the midwest:

Autumn olive: Grows and spreads like a weed, sprouts new heads like a hydra. Wicked thing; even the wood isn’t very useful.

Autumn olive is a nasty invasive species.  It makes seeds beloved by birds, who deposit them complete with fertilizer far and wide.  These trees spread like wildfire.  Worse, they might as well be called Hydra trees, because if you cut off the head they sprout several more shoots, so just cutting them down doesn’t work well.  Hardwoods like oaks do the same thing and will give you the same troubles, but at least they spread and grow at a more civilized pace.  Cedars invade clearings just as fast as autumn olive, but at least the cedars stay cut down.

Well, you Do have to cut the things down, but if you have a BOL you surely also have a means to cut wood?  I hope you have a good saw, make that two, not just an axe, while we’re on the topic.  Axes are a Great way to put into practice the fine prepper skill of stopping traumatic bleeding!  Saws are much easier to control, and in my experience (being someone who’s pretty strong for a small woman over fifty) more effective.  Also, don’t overlook the highly useful loppers for the small stuff.

Axes have a cool cachet, but can be hard to control.

Bow saws (with replaceable blades, so easy to store backups) are very cheap and effective.

Loppers are invaluable for nipping sprouting trees in the bud.

The problem is the hydra effect (loss of apical inhibition, if you’re paying me by the syllable). Cut a small autumn olive tree, and you have six tiny autumn olive trees two months later.

Stump killer is a great solution.  Tordon RTU was recommended to my by several sources.  Treat it with care, it’s a potent herbicide.  It’s also very easy to use.  It comes in a squirt bottle; I just got a disposable paint brush and paint it on the cut surface of the stumps.

Stump killer on the severed remains of the hydra’s neck will stop new heads from sprouting.

Keep some of this on hand, and you can maintain clear fields without having to battle the dreaded hydra.

NOTE: Autumn Olive IS edible (and some find the berries tasty), so it’s a plant that can be used as a part of your survival plan… but uncontrolled it can really wreck a place.

Spice

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