|Polly and Waldo rooting in last summer's sweet potato bed.|
This year I decided it was time to do something different in the garden. For the past several years we've tried permanent beds in hopes they would be a work-smarter-not-harder gardening option. No-till with tons of mulch for weed control makes sense, doesn't it? Well, that was a fail.
My sad story is that I cannot keep up with wire grass control. In the beginning it goes okay and then two things happen: 1) I run out of mulch and 2) harvest and preservation commence and there's no time for anything else at that point. Except for picking (and watering as needed), the garden is pretty much neglected.
|October photo: Wire grass taking over once well mulched black turtle beans.|
For those who don't know, wire grass (Cynodon dactylon, also called devil grass) is an uncultivated bermuda grass. It is the plague of the southeastern United States, even worse than kudzu. If you've read my gardening posts over the years, then you know I've been battling wire grass ever since we got here. I've learned that the best I can hope for is to try to stay one step ahead of the stuff.
In comparing till versus no-till, I have to say that tilling gives me some advantage because I can rake out a lot of the rhizomes. That slows it down. This fall, however, Dan and I decided to let the pigs have at it. They did such an amazing job with the ground ivy that we wanted to see if they could make a difference in the garden.
|Strawberry bed in front. Electric netting separates the pigs from the perennials|
To keep them where we wanted them, we bought electric netting. The netting is a little more expensive that regular electric fencing, but I wanted to make sure we could keep not only pigs and goats out, but chickens too. It definitely works. For the charger, we went with solar.
Of course I couldn't let the goats miss out.
|Gruffy, Randy, & my little Supergoat. I left the amaranth, popcorn, &|
okra plants for them, also the green bean and black turtle bean plants
The Billy Boys are closest to the garden at present, so they are the ones who get to share in this treat. They will actually eat the wire grass, both fresh and dried as hay, but they can't control it. Actually, I don't know if the pigs can either, but I'm willing to let them do their thing. It isn't no-till, but it is natural till, and I'm okay with that.
The electric netting will enable us to subdivide pasture areas as needed to let them rest, for soil improvement, and growing other crops or new pasture. Seemed a better idea than more permanent fences.