The Curse of Stinkweed and Fruit Stealing Squirrels – Orange County Register

Stinknet is a plant native to South Africa that has become the current obnoxious weed in Southern California. It first appeared here in the 1980s and has made its way to almost every county in California, as well as some areas in Arizona and Nevada. It has been classified as an emerging invasion as its spread has accelerated in recent years.

Stinknet, also known as ball chamomile, has thick, waxy leaves that resemble those of a carrot. In early spring it bears yellow spherical flowers. It closely resembles the sweet-scented pineapple herb, but has a strong, unpleasant odor that has been compared to turpentine or tar. It has an upright habit and can grow up to 3 feet tall.

Like most invasive weeds, Stinkweed spreads aggressively and forms dense clumps. This crowds out native and other desirable plants. Once established, they are extremely difficult to eradicate.

Even sheep and goats don’t like it, so you’ll have to do the dirty work yourself.

The herbicides Milestone, Capstone, and glyphosate are reasonably effective, but they may take time to work. They should be applied before the plant flowers and has a chance to disperse its seeds. These herbicides are most effective on newly emerging plants. Stinknet’s waxy leaves and dense habit make it resistant to chemical control.

Mowing once or twice will cause the plant to grow low to the ground but will not slow it down. Repeated mowing at a very low setting can eventually exhaust the plant.

Q I garden in Fullerton and there are squirrels next to my vegetable garden. They love to eat some vegetables every year. This year I am building a 12 inch high wire cage to protect my strawberry plants. The cage is about 5 feet square. I want to cover the cage with wire. My question: I’m planning to use 1 or maybe ¾ inch chicken wire on the top and sides. A friend suggests I use ¼ inch wire. I chose the larger chicken wire so more sunlight can shine on the strawberry plants. What size wire would you suggest, or do you have any other idea to keep the rodents out?

A. Squirrels aren’t the only strawberry connoisseurs. Birds, mice and rats also enjoy it. I recommend ½ inch hardware cloth that shuts out mice as well as the other critters. Remember that squirrels can dig under this cage if it is placed directly on the ground. Gardening in raised beds makes it easier to secure the cage.

A friend of mine had a problem with crows raiding his strawberry field. He bought a bag of beach pebbles and spray-painted them bright red, then placed them under and around his strawberries. The crows got an unpleasant surprise when they tried to peck at the rocks and decided to move on. Squirrels are such jerks they would probably steal both the rocks and the strawberries.

Los Angeles District; 626-586-1988;

Orange County; 949-809-9760;

Riverside County; 951-683-6491 ext. 231;

County of San Bernardino; 909-387-2182; The Curse of Stinkweed and Fruit Stealing Squirrels – Orange County Register

Adam Bradshaw

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