Saturday, January 24, 2009

Dealing with Weeds and Grass

Everything got massive this week. The spring heat, I guess. The radishes, the lettuce, the peas, the weeds, everything! It like doubled in size overnight. Crazy.

I am harvesting the weeds for my compost pile. I am also letting it grow, a natural green manure crop to be tilled under in a couple weeks.

It'd be cool to identify these little buggers. They look like nasturtium leaves, except with ragged leaf edges instead of the nice round ones of the nasturtium.

The bermuda grass, now that is another story. That stuff will take over your area, any area that is watered, in summer. Years ago I used them to my advantage, keeping tomotoes going through August by letting them become a ground cover to keep the garden floor cool and moist as I irrigated every day. The downside is, all that work you did is totally undone, as grass has totally colonized your garden again. I am a big fan of bermuda grass for a lawn, but it is tough to garden with that stuff around.

This year, I am just tilling it under. I am doing an experiment to see how well that works. In a couple beds, I am just tilling, but in a couple others, I am tilling then running through the loose soil by hand to remove as many of the cut-up roots as possible. I honestly don't know how much of it will survive the tilling process. I'd love to say, none of it, but more like, all of it.

That stuff is tough, and the underground root structure is incredible (as you can see in the picture). You could look at a bare patch of dirt and think you were clear, but underneath, its all grass roots, just waiting for a drop of moisture. Luckily, it doesn't go much deeper than 4-6 inches, so a tiller is enough to thoroughly shread the root structure.

When getting rid of it by shovel, here is a nice trick: Get the spade under the roots, then just dump it upside down on the ground. Don't try to remove the roots from the dirt right away, the moist soil just clumps around the roots. Wait a day, till it has dried a bit, then step on the clumps. The soil just falls away, leaving the big nasty roots sitting there on top. I gather them up and burn them at that point. Mwah ha ha, revenge at last!

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