Goats, garlic mustard and garden tours

Goats nibble away in a temporary enclosure near East Cedar Lake Beach. Photo by Meleah Maynard

If you read my column even occasionally, you’ve likely gleaned that I’m not very keen on the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board’s outdated, chemical-laden approach to managing our public parks, ball fields and other outdoor spaces under their control. Today, though, I want to acknowledge something they did recently that was actually good.

If you haven’t already heard, in late May, Minneapolis joined other cities, including St. Paul, Minnetonka and Northfield, in using goats to help manage invasive plants like buckthorn and garlic mustard. My husband, Mike, and I saw the goats in action near Cedar Lake East Beach (Hidden Beach) in early June. And I have to say that one week into their 10-day stay, those goats had pretty much denuded the 6-acre area they were corralled in. It was wonderful to see and hear them as they wandered around with their babies munching on greenery. Apparently, their next stop will be the northwest portion of Wirth Park in late July.

Rented from Diversity Landworks of La Crescent, the goats were protected by two layers of fencing and an on-site shepherd, Jesse Dale. While the creatures can’t control invasive species in just one visit, the hope is that repeated visits will at least keep problem plants in check. It the Park Board sees positive results they say they may cut down on the amount of glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup) and other herbicides they are currently using. Let’s hope that’s the case. Go goats!

Garlic mustard

According to the signs posted by the Park Board, goats like to eat invasive species, such as buckthorn, garlic mustard and honeysuckle. That’s great. But since most of us don’t have goats in our own yards, we can help eradicate that horrible plant by pulling it.

If you’re not sure what it looks like, Google “garlic mustard” and note what it looks like in the first and second year. Garlic mustard grows tall and produces seeds in its second year of growth, and just one plant can produce thousands of seeds that can stay viable in the soil for five or more years.

Keeping this plant out of our yards will also help reduce its spread in wild areas, which are overrun by it at this point. Dig or pull garlic mustard out of the ground so you get all of the roots. Don’t leave it on the ground or throw it in your own compost pile. Bag it up for the city’s compost collection because the high heat they can generate in their piles will kill the seeds. Can’t dig it up? At least cut the flowers off so they don’t go to seed.

Garden tours

It’s garden tour season, of course. Here are two tours that I’d especially like you to know about:

  • Saturday, July 8: The Hennepin County Master Gardener’s Learning Garden Tour features eight gardens in Southwest Minneapolis. This self-guided tour, which supports Master Gardener community programs, will be held 9 a.m.–4 p.m. rain or shine. To celebrate the tour’s 10th anniversary there will be food trucks at three sites, as well as a drawing to win a one-hour master gardener consultation. To purchase tickets go to: org/events/hcmg-learning-garden-tour.
  • Saturday, July 22: Our garden is one of many being featured on the 13th-annual Tangletown Gardens Garden and Art tour. All of the gardens will be open 9 a.m.–4 p.m. rain or shine and, as always, the proceeds help support charities, garden projects and public art in the Twin Cities. Tickets can be purchased at Tangletown Gardens in Southwest Minneapolis or online here: com/product/gardentour/.


Check out Meleah’s blog, everydaygardener.com, for more gardening tips or to email her a question or comment.