Sunday, March 14, 2010

one plant at a time

King Cnut (and, yes, I have given in to the forces of historical spelling correctness) would have advised us to abandon our hubris, and accept the fact that water hyacinths rule the laguna.

But we six souls on Friday would hear nothing of it.  We decided to mount a frontal attack on the invading plants in the inlet just outside my gate.

The neighbor had cleared out a portion -- and it turned out to be a great spot for the crocodile to hunt.  We decided he could use some more room.

It turns out that water hyacinths are very easy to pull out of the water.  They spread by sending out shoots.  As a result, they form a large floating platform with roots extending into the water.  From a fish's eye-view, it must look like a jellyfish with chlorophyll.

They are easy to get out of the water -- only because they are not rooted.  But they can be heavy.

To harvest our "crop," we needed to position ourselves on a steep soggy bank.  We then used either a rake (for nearby plants) or a grappling hook (for plants beyond the rake's reach).  That plant was thrown on the malecon where it was loaded into a wheelbarrow and then dumped in a vacant lot.

After two hours, we six volunteers had cleared out a strip of the hyacinths that will give some of the wildlife an opportunity for open water.  (If you look at the photograph below, it is the water in the upper left -- looking a bit muddy.)  I suspect the snails, small fish, and frogs preferred the cover.  But there is still plenty for them.

With a couple of boats and a full crew, the inlet could probably be cleared in a week.

Even though my back objected on Saturday morning, I would gladly prove good old King Cnut wrong -- one plant at a time.

On another day.


Anonymous said...

It looks like you and the rest of the crew accomplished quite a lot.


Laurie said...

I grew up alongside the typical small bayou in South Louisiana. It was alive and well in my youth, then man made some adjustmens, cutting much of the flow from the north, and the semi-stagnant waters filled with hyacinths. My dad used a rake often to clean it up. Soon fish, frogs, and .... gators and turtles would show up until it was time to rake the bayou once again. Happy raking. Keep a sharp eye out for the crocks.

terri said...

Weren't you afraid of the crocs getting you? Or, do they bail when they see you coming?

Steve Cotton said...

Mom -- We did. But there is much more to do. Even in our little inlet.

Laurie -- I hope we have the same results from our toil.

Teri -- We use the same strategy as wildebeest: if one is taken, the others carry on.

We probably made enough noise to scare away any living creature.

Anonymous said...

hats off to you and your crew! great job! i wonder if the high school might be able to get some sort of program started where they could get kids to volunteer. perhaps as a science project or community service.

did you guys change time this weekend? seems like you do it later on, like we used to. we just sprung forward this morning.

have a great week!


Chrissy y Keith said...

There is value in the water hyacinths. If you can find someone that knows how to weave them into furniture, they would harvest them on a regular basis. Baskets made from them go for hundreds of dollars here in the states. Our friends is PV bought a Hyacinth living room set there. So I know someone in Mexico is crafting this stuff.

- Mexican Trailrunner said...

Good job, guys!
When you're done, can you come up and help us with this lake please?

Anonymous said...

Is King Cnut the old sovereign who waded into the ocean, waving his broadsword to stop the tide?

I'd rather take my chances with water haycinth. At least there is a finite number of them in a confined space. Unlike the old King, you can at least see some progress.

By the way, is it an alligator or a crocodile you have in that pond?


Steve Cotton said...

Teresa -- My landlady put the crew together. I was surprised how much we were able to pull out.

Chrissy -- The leaves are so small, I am not certain what could be made of them. But we have huge piles for the taking. We burn it.

Mexican Trailrunner -- I will let you borrow the grappling hook. It makes us look like pirates. A role with which I have some familiarity.

ANM -- Sir, you malign the Great Dane. It was his sycophantical courtiers who told him he was powerful enough to stop the tide. (Not unlike academics kissing up the dean.) He had his throne taken to the edge of the shore to disprove their noinmsense. (Something a deen would never think of doing.) Of course, that is the royal-approved version. Who knows what Prince Chartles would attempt to command these days.

Our inlet denizen is definitely a crocodile,. Though I have no way of knowing if he is a "he." And I ain't checkin'.

Tancho said...

Stellar job my amigo. Are there any uses for the weed as feed for anything except a land fill?
I wonder how much it would cost local labor wise to ride the lagoon of the culprit?

Anonymous said...

Yes, the good King was merely performing a scientific experiment to show to everyone that he was as powerful as everyone thought he was.

Now really, given how the use of power went in those days, do you really believe that Canut, or any other king for that matter, would go out of his way to prove weakness?

I really doubt it. That kind of silliness, proving one's own incompetence, is only something a dean would do -- without knowing it, of course.


Brenda said...

yes the water hyacinth is edible. You can feed it to your livestock!Watch this video.

Steve Cotton said...

Tancho -- It is supposed to have compost capability. Brenda says it makes good cattle feed. Chrissy says it can be used as a manufacturing fiber. I suspect we could gather up a few local hands and clear our inlet in a matter of hours. We talked to a construction foreman with that in mind, but he informed me none of his workers will go near the water because of what lurks beneath.

ANM -- I see that you are once again equating humility with weakness. Something a king in the age of faith would never have done. Of course, you were not. A king, that is. You, sir, are confusing him with one of your authoritarian statist kings (like the Stuarts) after whom you would remodel our fine constitution.

Brenda -- Now all I need to do is buy a few head of cattle. Then what do I do with THAT waste?

Brenda said...

Well, I know there are many farmers in Mexico who have cattle. Perhaps if they knew this was a good source of free food for their animals it might behoove them to come clear it out for you! It's also edible for humans. Haven't tasted it myself. Maybe when I am in PV next month I will check it out for myself.

Steve Cotton said...

Brenda -- Maybe we could get large life vests for the cattle and just let them munch through the stuff -- in place.