|The only consolation is that I've been able to sickle|
mow this wire grass filled bed a couple of times for hay.
These were once permanent beds which have been overtaken by wire grass aka devil grass (Cynodon dactylon, an uncultivated bermuda). Long time readers will likely remember what I've done to battle this stuff: hand weeding, tilling, heavy mulch, cardboard, plastic solarization, landscape cloth with wood chip mulch, and more recently, pigs. The only thing I haven't tried is Round-up, which I understand is only a temporary solution, like all the others.
|Wiregrass growing through a thick straw mulch in the green beans patch.|
Last fall wire grass had taken over my permanent beds so densely that I couldn't plant a fall garden because I couldn't get to the soil. Talk about discouraged. That's when we sent in the pigs and goats and tilled once again. No, tilling is not the answer, but at least I can rake out enough of the wiregrass to plant something.
I have learned some things in my war against wire grass. One is, don't expect to win. Just aim to get a harvest. Another is that shade deters it. I'm not talking about shade from mulch; it just grows right on up through mulch. I'm talking about shade like this
|Volunteer 4 o'clocks|
In the beds where I have a tall, dense growth of something like flowers or other plants, the wire grass is considerably (albeit temporarily) abated. It's definitely a sun lover.
The one drawback to my companion group planting is the different planting times and growing rates of the various companions in the group. Some things will be tall enough to mulch while others are barely breaking the ground. That delays mulching and gives unwanted weeds a foothold. The solution would seem to be to have everything about the same size when the bed is planted (or shortly thereafter) to get an earlier layer of mulch down. In Scott and Helen Nearing's The Good Life, I read how they kept their greenhouse so full of plants that anytime there was a vacant spot in the garden they had something at the ready to plant there. I can't help but think that a greenhouse is an answer for me.
Of course, a greenhouse has been on the master plan for a long time, but like everything else must wait until there is time and money to build. We've got an idea for a new location for one, so I should really update the master plan one of these days.
Even so, that won't help much with perennials like asparagus. So after getting only one side dish from it in four years, I'm calling it quits. I'm willing to work for our food, but when a thing takes time away from everything else, to me it isn't worth it. It's better to stick with the things that grow well in our garden, and asparagus isn't it.