Despite evidence to the contrary, we do occupy areas of our home other than the bathroom. I know we’ve been
a little enormously focused on our bathroom, but we’ve been taking care of a few other things behind the scenes as well. One of those things was tackling our nemesis, grass in the garden.
I would like to say I’m a big gardener, but really, I just want to be. Every year, I have big plans to have that garden you see in the magazines. I order seeds, sometimes I start them early, and when it’s time, I transplant them or direct seed them into our 25′ x 50′ garden. Yeah, it’s pretty big for someone who is merely wishing she were “a big gardener.” I have visions of one day having a garden like this one. See all those beautiful rows and how the grass is kept in its place (i.e., not in the garden)?
Oh it all looks fabulous the day I till and plant, but two days later, the grass has starting sprouting. And let’s be honest, folks, 25′ x 50′ is entirely too large to hoe. I’ve tried everything, mulching between the rows, laying down paper made specifically for weed prevention, and so forth. Mostly, I just let the grass win every year. Some plants tolerate the grass, some don’t. It looks pretty terrible too once the grass gets out of hand.
I don’t mean to suggest it’s a complete failure. Last year, I put up over 20 jars of pickles from cucumbers I grew, ate fresh peppers from the vine, and had a few other success. Things grew, they just weren’t pretty covered in grass.
This year, I’m trying something new. I should back up though. Here is what you need to know: We have amazing dirt. Seriously, amazing. It’s perfectly crumbly and full of all kinds of earthworms and other bugs.
That may not seem like much, but to an organic gardener, it makes all the difference. Practically anything will grow in our yard, and I’ve yet to kill a single thing we’ve planted in the ground. We have huge amounts of birds, butterflies, honeybees that frequent our yard because there are plenty of berries, bugs, and pollen for them, and we occasionally have a rabbit prance around foraging (and fertilizing) as he goes. To say our yard is desirable to all manner of flora or fauna is a bit of an understatement.
This is all well and good except for the grass. I welcome all of it, every last weed and lettuce-eating rabbit, but that grass has got to go. So after three attempts (with extremely low success rates) at keeping the grass at bay, we got angry, infuriated that our vegetable production was being held up by something so boring as grass. Gorgeous flowers or towering trees? Fine, I succumb, but to the grass I will not bend.
So after reading and talking and reading and talking, we decided just to do it. We’re killin’ it.
I know, it sounds harsh. After all, we really try to do our part for Mother Earth: We use wool balls in place of dryer sheets, avoid factory-farmed meat, and have more than one natural home book on our shelves. And I’ve been known to drag 20+ bags of pine straw the neighbors put out by the road over to my place to keep them from going to a landfill and to mulch my own garden.
We like to think we have a nice relationship with the good Mother. We tread relatively lightly, try not to trample her, and she helps us out by giving us flowers for beauty and scent, trees for shade, and (sometimes) vegetables for food. But we just have to usurp her on this one. That grass has got to go.
We haven’t completely lost our minds though. We aren’t going to go out to our healthy little garden plot and pump it full of petrochemicals or anything. Believe you me, friends of Monsanto we are not.
Instead, we’ve covered the garden plot with thick black plastic (Visqueen, to be exact). Our plan is to smother out the grass, kill it at its roots. This should (dear God, please) greatly reduce the amount of grass sprouting from now on. It won’t keep it completely out, but there won’t be some intricate root system under there just itching to send up new grass shoots all over the place.
For the nitty gritty, here’s what we did:
- Went to our local building-supply store and talked to nice young man at the counter
- Bought a roll of 12′ x 100′ Visqueen (which cost about $50 and is enough to last us quite awhile)
- Went home, rolled it out to desired length, cut it, and unfolded it to cover a section
- Repeated last step for second section
- Placed bricks we had on hand around edges and down middle to hold down Visqueen
- Had a discussion about why we didn’t do this sooner
The whole operation took about 30 minutes. Seriously, it was so easy. Here’s what we have for now.
Pardon the sogginess–we’ve had a lot of rain lately. It’s not the prettiest thing in the world, but it’s doing miraculous work under there. As I type, it’s keeping that pesky grass from breathing, which, I realize, sounds pretty terrible, but that’s just life (err, or death, actually).
We’re a little sad that some of the bugs and microorganisms will also not make it through the Visqueen treatment, but they’ll come back in the spring when we uncover the spot. Ed prefers to think they will just temporarily move.
So we’ll keep you posted come spring time (or maybe before if we just can’t stand it and have to peek under the plastic). If the grass is gone, we’ve got big plans for neat little rows of tomatoes, eggplant, beans, and more.
What about you? Do you plan to plant a garden this year? Anyone have a similar experience fighting grass?