I kept passing by the asparagus bed last week. Each time I frowned because this is what I saw. This may not look bad to you, but this patch normally produces more asparagus than my family can eat. Do you see those spindly spears? At first, I thought it just needed manure. Asparagus is a heavy feeder, eating almost as much as my roses. The day I saw this I didn’t have time to spread manure, so I walked on by.
A few days later, I decided to weed the bed before I amended the soil. We have lots of chicken manure, but, at present, no chickens. Our girls are all clucking in the great, green meadow in the sky. I almost bought new chicks this spring, but we want to travel some with the red dirt kids. Traveling and chickens don’t mix.
I took my angle weeder and began attacking the weeds. Suddenly, I knew why my asparagus was dwindling. Like soldiers left out too long on patrol and quickly running out of ammunition, the asparagus crowns bravely held on.
Slowly, they were being strangled by escaped Bermuda grass from the paths which run beside my back garden.
Bermuda grass is the sixth grader in school who is larger than everyone else. It carries brass knuckles and hits up other plants for their lunch money. In essence, it is the worst kind of bully, the kind that wants to meet you on the hill after school.
I hate Bermuda grass almost as much as I hate Bindweed. Are you now scratching your head and wondering why I don’t put something else in those paths? Two reasons:
- Cost. The garden is very large, and if I tried to fill all of the paths with something else, it would break the bank; and
- Heat. In the summer, everything else I’ve tried on the smaller garden increased the heat in the garden two or threefold. I’ve used pine bark nuggets (dark color) and considered pea gravel (also heat retaining and yuck.)
After working for thirty minutes with my wonderful hand hoe, I wanted to give up. I was actually planning my acquiescence speech when I turned to my garden bucket and smiled.
The cavalry had arrived! I held my Cobrahead weeder aloft and taunted the Bermuda, “You have met your match!”
I received a Cobrahead weeder at the Garden Writers Symposium last September. I tried it a couple of times, but stuck with my angle weeder. For most of my jobs, the CH felt a little thin. However, for weeding out Bermuda, there was no comparison. The CH was sharp enough to slice through the roots when I needed it, and the hook pulled up most of the roots which resided three to twelve inches below the soil’s surface.
Unfortunately, whenever you break off a piece of Bermuda, like Bindweed, it just reestablishes itself from whatever is left. Therefore, you are simply propagating more Bermuda and Bindweed throughout your soil.
This week, I will follow the Cobrahead weeding with Grass-B-Gone on any Bermuda which shows itself. It takes two applications seven days apart to kill Bermuda with Grass-B-Gone. Also, those applications should be made on hot, sunny days in order to be most effective. These two methods keep the Bermuda in check, but it is always lurking under the surface. As to Bindweed, I have to resort to the evil Roundup. I place a piece of cardboard between the Bindweed and the plant I’m protecting. In my experience, Roundup doesn’t appear to bleed within the soil and kill surrounding plants at the root level like Brush-B-Gone sometimes does.
Although I use organic methods whenever possible, I also know when to use some very limited, chemical help. Although Grass-B-Gone is supposed to spare other plants, some are still susceptible, so I’m careful to keep the spray to the grass.