Poison ivy: Bye, bye

Leaves of three, let it be!

Birdie, birdie, in the sky,
Dropped a poison-ivy seed in my garden….


For some reason I never memorized epic poetry. But apparently a bird ate a poison ivy seed and deposited it in our garden. I found the new plant growing closely to the trunk of a butterfly bush when I was mulching, but I find them even in my veggie garden at times.


Leaves of three, let it be! Yes, the old folk saying is right on target. Up to 80% of people develop a rash when they come in contact with urushiol, the irritating oil in poison ivy. When I was a kid, I often ran through patches of the noxious weed that grew near Alloway Creek, “down back” from our home on West Main Street in Alloway, N.J. I didn’t get a rash then, but in the last several years I’ve become fairly sensitive and get rashes if I’m exposed.


So the poison ivy had to go—quickly, while it was young and relatively shallow rooted.


Spray it with 2,4-D or glyphosate? No, that would be overkill—and drifting spray might do major damage to nearby plants. I’ll pull it out—which should be relatively easy because the plant is small and mostly free standing.


But I’m super-sensitive, right?


Ok, here’s how I do it.

Put pulling hand inside ventless plastic bag

I take the narrow plastic bag off the morning’s Washington Post. I put my hand and lower part of my arm into the bag. With the bag between the poison ivy and my hand, I run my hand down the poison ivy, grab its main stem at soil level, and firmly pull the plant straight up and out of its garden bed.

The pulled plant in protected hand

The plant then is in my bag-gloved hand. I next pull the open top of the bag back down my arm and over the poison ivy so the bag ends up inside out with the poison ivy inside the bag. I knot the bag and put it into the trash—not my compost pile or anywhere else where it might re-root.

Poison ivy, bye, bye

Poison ivy: gone. Bob: no danger of rash. Newspaper bag: recycled in a good cause.


Note: Don’t use a vented plastic bag, such as some veggies and fruit come in. The small vent holes may allow poison ivy’s irritating sap to come into contact with your hand or arm. And if your poison ivy has been growing in place for some time, it may not pull easily, so you may want to consider nuking it with an herbicide labeled to kill poison ivy.


Leaves of three?


Bye, bye.

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