Monday, June 24, 2013

Blame It On The Grass !

A young runner starting to develop.
These runners easily get 6 to 8 feet long!
Now that summer has started, I will be having a difficult time posting 5 times a week. I will try to post often, but I find myself with less free time June thru December. Why, you ask? Grass! The stuff starts to grow in ernest the beginning of June and doesn't significantly slow down until December. and if I don't keep it chopped down, it rapidly transforms my place into a thick savannah. Believe me, some of the grass can grow over a foot a week and get 6 feet high in less than a month. Good for feeding livestock but bad if you're trying to find the shovel you laid down last week, your car, or your house! Gosh, and my mainland friends can't understand why I keep a horse around that I don't bother to ride. Well, she is tall enough to eat the grass that grew too high for the sheep to tackle.

Speaking of grass, tropical grass is far different from the grasses I was use to in NJ. Here a lot of the grasses spread via runners or underground stolens. So they quickly spread beyond your neat lawn and into every nook and cranny, including heading into the flower beds, choking out the vegetable garden, up the sides of a building and even under the siding, through the cracks in your deck, even up through the floorboards of your sheds. It's like the plant from hell.

I dug up this underground stolen with several plants growing from it.
These stolens run for feet and feet about 10" below the surface. 
Unlike fescue and rye which hates being driven on, tropical grasses seem to tolerate taking a beating. Lots of people here with acreage don't bother gravelling a driveway unless they have mud or need the traction. Grass does fine. I couldn't understand that when I first came here. What? Drive across the grass? Are you crazy? But then I noticed that a number of places didn't seem to have driveways, just lawns. Um.

Lots of newcomers put a lot of effort into making their lawns. Within a year or two they start spending their time with the opposite endeavor....controlling the monster they created. Here the grass. There the grass. Everywhere a grass, grass. Aaaayyyyy. Although I'm not a big advocate of herbacides, I can fully appreciate the need to use something like Round-up in certain places. 

Tropical grasses have their benefits. They like to grow. They spread easily. Many make good pastures. They fill in empty spots quickly. Many are excellent forage for livestock. ....... But just don't let them near your gardens! 


  1. Yep! The bane of our existence! I can pull them following the long stolen as much as possible and think at least I have a two week advantage before they reach the garden beds again....but before I know there they are knocking at the bed doors again!!!

  2. When I abandoned one of my garden sites, hubby wanted me to go out and purchase grass seed for it. He didn't want it staying bare. Well, no need. The grass grew in and covered it over in less than two months! You wouldn't even know that there had been a garden there.

    Sonia, I've found that keeping a bare four foot perimeter around the garden is the minimum I need in order to prevent enmasse grass invasion. And even then, some of the under
    ground stolens still travel far enough that the grass suddenly pops up between the veggies.

    After struggling for years and losing battle after battle, I've finally reached the conclusion that as a single farmer I need to use a herbacide from time to time. I just don't have the time to hand dig or pull all the encroaching grass. So a few times a year I will mix up a bit of round-up. BUT rather than broadcast spraying it, I will hand paint the individual weeds. This method results in far, far, far less herbicide being applied. Yes, it is more time consuming than broadcast spraying, but it puts the minimum amount of herbicide into my soil. I don't use it inside the garden. Just the perimeter. So far this method is working for me.

    I have a love/ hate relationship with this grass. I love it for the livestock and for making mulch. Hate it when it gets anywhere near my gardens.