Not Rocket Science

Good thing gardening isn’t rocket science. If it were, I’d have blown up a lot of spaceships. I just dealt with my latest mishap. The no-digging bed I created last fall with newspapers and leaves failed as a no-dig bed. Bermuda grass emerged from under the mulch.

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bermuda 002

Bermuda grass in the right place is great. It is the most common grass on area golf courses and soccer fields. But it is awful in a vegetable plot. It spreads roots that are capable of going through potatoes. The mulch cover I made was great for it. Everything else growing in the plot was smothered by the layer of three to four sheets of newspaper and three inches of leaves. I had seen this ability of Bermuda grass before. I hadn’t noticed that there was Bermuda grass in the plot when I covered it last fall.

Ten years ago I had put down a layer of newspapers and municipal mulch around my blueberry bushes. Municipal mulch is  shredded brush clippings that Chattanooga residents can pick up at a city recycling center. That time I had layered 5-6 inches of the shredded wood chips over the newspaper. It was a significantly heavier layer and Bermuda grass came right through it. The blueberries did well sharing the spot with Bermuda grass so it was not a problem.

But in the bed where I had sweet potato starts ready to go in, Bermuda grass was not welcome. As I raked away the mulch many more shoots of grass were ready to show through. I took a fork and removed nearly a 5 gallon bucket full of Bermuda grass roots and shoots from the 4 X 10 foot plot. So much for the no-dig lasagna method on this plot. If it were boxing, round one would be scored a win for the Bermuda grass.

The digging did reveal an abundance of earthworms. The corn meal that I had spread before putting down the newspaper had the desired effect of attracting them. And after raking in some dehydrated alfalfa and lime, I have sweet potatoes planted. So maybe this wasn’t so much a blown up spaceship as a delayed launch.

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