The Hoosierist: Ground War

Invasive plants, bean counters, and state park gun laws. Ask The Hoosierist.

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Q: My neighbor is blowing me crap about the groundcover I’m planting around my foundation. He says it’s an “invasive” species and I shouldn’t use it. Is he right?
A: The Hoosierist reckons your nosy neighbor is bellyaching about an innocuous-seeming vine called winter creeper. Imported from China about a century ago and available at most lawn and garden centers, it has become a kudzu-like pest in wild areas, crowding out native species. The problem is so big there’s even a push to ban its sale. But that might be a classic case of closing the barn door after the cow escaped—and then multiplied catastrophically. Plus, even if winter creeper is somehow expunged, plenty of other imported plants are busily stealing sunlight and soil from honest, hardworking, native species. The Indiana Plant Advisory Committee (which is a real thing) keeps a long list of these invaders, including Japanese knotweed, Canada thistle, and garlic mustard—which sounds like an awesome sandwich condiment.

Q: Why does Hurst’s Beans have one-bean packages and 15-bean mixes but nothing in-between? How about just five, with no butter beans? They’re nasty.
A: Actually, this downtown maker of dried-bean soup mixes does offer several other combo bags, including Slow Cooker Chili (a four-bean mix) and Confetti Lentil Soupreme, featuring seven lentil varieties. As for those allegedly noxious butter beans (also known as lima beans), company president Rick Hurst just doesn’t feel your pain. “I like lima beans,” he says. Interestingly, the beans in Hurst’s famous 15 Bean Soup are actually drawn from a pool of 20 possible kinds. That way, if one or two types are unavailable, the company can still fulfill its 15-variety promise by tossing in one from its bean bench. Why 15 and not, say, 14 or 16? “Well, 14 didn’t seem like enough,” Hurst says, “and 16 would just be bragging.”

Q: A friend of mine noted that you can carry a concealed weapon in all state parks except Falls of the Ohio. What gives?
A: State law does allow gun-loving Hoosiers to pack heat while backpacking in most of our state parks. But Falls of the Ohio State Park, a 165-acre sanctuary known for its massive trove of beautifully preserved fossils, is also part of Falls of the Ohio National Wildlife Conservation Area, overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The feds don’t allow concealed weapons, and since federal law supersedes state law, you’ll have to leave your revolver in the truck. However, you can shoot all the pictures you want.

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