By Jeanette Fitzsimons
Most of New Zealand’s pastoral hill country is badly infested with gorse. Brought by early settlers from the British Isles to make living fences for stock, in our climate it quickly spread everywhere. A small plant left alone can be a large bush in a year and a few of them can cover a paddock in five years.
It’s not a problem in a market garden or home garden or a cultivated field, where it is simply removed like any other weed. It is manageable in an orchard where the shading helps limit its growth. But in a field of grass it goes rampant.
In an area you are wanting to regenerate with native forest it is positively helpful, adding nitrogen to the soil, shelter and mulch for emerging seedlings, and eventually being shaded out by the growing trees. That’s what we are doing on the 80% of our land that is too steep to farm sustainably. But having given up production on 80%, we want to grow some food on the rest.