Cambridge real estate agents – or at least the big bunch that work at Coldwell Banker – every Wednesday tour the properties that are coming on the market for the weekend. It’s a great way to get a first look at a lot of real estate and is one of my favorite days of the week.
I’ve taken to carrying my camera with me looking for fodder for this blog. We’re often out and about through three to six towns, touring up to 20+ properties, so there’s a good chance I’ll stumble across something that’s picture-worthy.
This pickup truck was cause for a double-take. I don’t know the story behind it – if you do let me know. There’s a mini-farm – a garden bed – a raised bed for sure – in this truck bed. Corn, tomatoes, and a bunch of other plants that I assume are also vegetables (can you guess I’m not a gardener?). We spotted it on a Somerville side street and every real estate agent with a camera was snapping away. Wherever this truck goes it’s sure to be a head-turner.
Check back for more oddities and interesting sights spotted while we’re out and about in Cambridge, Somerville and nearby towns. And if you’d like a heads up about properties we see on our weekly real estate tour or want to talk about how our property tour can get your home sold fast give me a call at 617-504-1737.
My nemesis – black swallowwort – is popping up all over Cambridge. I’ve been out and about in the last few days and found patches of it in many front yards in Cambridge. And no question about it – it’s in Somerville, Medford, and Arlington too. In fact, it’s becoming an issue all over Massachusetts.
Black swallowwort looks a bit like milkweed. But instead of the fuzzy, lumpy pods of regular milkweed the swallowwort seed pods are thinner and smooth, shiny green. It’s a rapidly growing vine and if allowed to flourish will produce numerous pods. Last summer I would find large stands of swallow-wort covering chain link fences and dripping with pods. Unfortunately I think some people actually like it since it does do a good job of covering up those chain link fences.
I found black swallowwort in my yard a couple of years ago but didn’t know what it was at the time. But it was growing so fast – twining around other plants, sprouting up everywhere I looked – that I searched online for it. I was horrified by what I learned. Search for it online and you’ll be ready for all out war after you learn more about it.
Black swallowwort is extremely invasive. It will push out other vegetation and is hard to eradicate. Like regular milkweed, the seeds from pods that are allowed to remain on the vines will spread all over the neighborhood. Your neighbor’s swallowwort is your problem too. Let it thrive and soon it will be all over the neighborhood pushing out other plants.
Swallowwort is not only a threat to vegetation – it is also believed to threaten the viability of monarch butterflies. Monarchs lay their eggs on milkweed and are thought to mistake swallowwort for milkweed. Caterpillars hatched on swallow-wort do not survive however.
The first year I found this invader in my yard I made the mistake of breaking off the vines but leaving them to wither with the pods still attached. Unfortunately, even if the vine is dead, the pods will still eventually release their seeds. The pods must be removed and disposed of carefully – I wrapped them up in foil or tightly closed bags. Some recommend burning.
Last year I went on an anti-swallowwort crusade. Anywhere I went I would pull off pods and filled bags with them. I listed a house for sale in Cambridge that had black swallowwort climbing everywhere in the garden. I filled trash bags with the vines. Once I started to look I found it everywhere – all over Cambridge, Somerville, Medford and Arlington.
I’ll post more photos of swallowwort as it matures. The picture taken above was taken in Cambridge in mid-May. Right now the pods aren’t out but the flowers are on the vine. The flowers are small and purple. The leaves are spade shaped and shiny green – sort of like lilac leaves but shinier. The way the vine will curl around whatever it comes in contact with is very distinctive.
If you see pods when you’re out and about – pick them and dispose of them. If you discover swallowwort in your yard the only effective method of eradication is repeated sprayings of herbicide. Pulling the vines will not work – there is a large underground network of roots and you can’t stay ahead of it by pulling it. Get an industrial sized bottle of herbicide and get ready to do battle.
Winter’s coming to an end and soon it will be time to think about gardening. Perhaps you’ve been dreaming about the vegetables you could grow. Or maybe you hope to fill your home with flowers that don’t come from the store.
Where Can I Find a Community Garden?
If you live in Cambridge, MA and don’t have a garden plot to call your own – don’ t despair. Cambridge has thirteen community gardens spread across the city and preference is given to those who don’t have access to land for gardening. There does seem to be more demand than available plots, however, and a lottery system is used to assign plots to prospective gardeners.
Community Gardens in Cambridge, Massachusetts
North Cambridge Community Gardens
Whittemore Avenue Garden – Whittemore Ave. & Magoun Street
McMath Park Community Garden – Pemberton Street
Corcoran Park Community Garden – Walden Street
West Cambridge Community Gardens
William G. Maher Park Community Garden – 650 Concord Ave. at Neville Manor
Fresh Pond Reservation / Parkway Garden – Fresh Pond Parkway
Community Garden in the Agassiz Neighborhood
Sacramento Street Community Garden – Sacramento Street
Riverside Community Gardens
Field of Dreams Garden – Elmer and Banks Streets
Green Street Neighborhood Garden – Green and Bay Streets
Cambridgeport Community Gardens
Peggy Hayes Memorial Garden – Watson Street
Emily Garden – Brookline and Emily Streets
Area 4 Community Gardens
Squirrel Brand Community Garden – Broadway and Boardman Street
Moore Street Community Garden – Moore Street
Community Garden in East Cambridge
Costa Lopez Taylor Park Community Garden – Lopez Ave. and Charles Street
As winter drags on it’s exciting to consider the prospect of spring and summer gardening. Time’s a fleeting if you’re interested in reserving a community garden plot at Rock Meadow in Belmont, Massachusetts. The $25 fee for the season and completed registration form are due by March 15th.
The 70 acre Rock Meadow Conservation Area is located in Belmont about one mile outside of Waverley Square, adjacent to Beaver Brook North Reservation. The community garden plots at Rock Meadow were established in 1969 and plots now number 130. Belmont originally had victory garden plots that dated from World War II on land now occupied by the high school on Concord Avenue. Those plots were moved to Rock Meadow in 1969 after the town purchased the land from McLean Hospital.
Garden plots are not limited to Belmont residents though it is possible that residents will be given preference if demand exceeds availability.
This is a wonderful opportunity to grow your own food – or flowers – especially if you don’t have a suitable garden space at home.