Friday, April 8, 2011

Keeping the grass out

I love the feeling of soft grass between my toes of a nice manicured lawn but man I find it annoying when it comes to vegetable gardening. Keeping it out is a constant and tiring battle. It invades by air, trojan horse, and by sneaking over or under the border. With our new mandala garden we now have a giant circle to protect. To the east there is a strong and established army, and on all other sides small rebel forces establish daily.
So how were we going to secure this border?

My first though was to erect a barricade. In my experience however, infiltration is still possible and would require constant whipper snipping that would, not only involve a job I would rather not do, it would in fact aid the enemy by throwing it's seeds over the line.

Linda Woodrow in her book "The Permaculture Home Garden" recommends a border of sugarcane, lemon grass, housetail, and comfrey. I like this organic approach but it would still require whipper snipping if I didn't want a grass jungle surrounding the patch.

Chemical warfare is not an option. Not only is it against the Geneva convention but on the occasion when I have used it I don't sleep easy.

So what did we do? We negotiated a trade deal with a super power... the Chooks. Who have willing agreed to be our century guards if they get to eat the enemy. A chicken wire fence has been erected around 2/3 of the perimeter that the guards patrol daily.

Field intelligence photos reveals the enemy has taken many casualties and has retreated its troops to a safe distance from the "no grow zone".

On a serious note, I am learning however to not consider any of natures beings or forces as an enemy, rather an opportunity to learn more about the powerful balancing mechanisms of nature. I have made piece with the grass and appreciate the nutrition and happiness they bring our chickens.

Anyone got any other grass management techniques?


  1. Concrete....The rebel forces little legs wont be able to get a good grip to establish its ground and therefore will have to retreat, very very quickly.
    Its like humans running on water..cant be done. well thats how it is for the little grass men, they just cant run on concrete. Many have tried but like us humans and water, they have perished to the vast depths of the sea of concrete. never to return again.. RIP grass men.

    Ps i would just like to Bill and Ben that they are not classified as grass and therefore are safe on concrete.

  2. I just smother the grass in the veggie garden with mulch and geotextile fabric, although I imagine the girls will do the jove without any fuss!

  3. What a good idea! Though I have to admit, I acaually like mowing. Mowing meditation. Exercise, mulch, thinking time, all at once. Not whipper snipping though.

  4. amydingley you are forgetting about grappling hooks. I have seen them do it, just like in the movies.

    Phoebe "geotextile" now that sounds fancy. I will look that up after. I am bit skeptical about mulch alone, I once left a big pile of course bark on a grassed area. That area is now a grassy hill.

    Linda as the people who read my blog know I have mentioned your name once or twice and am likely to mention it many more times to come. So it is great honor to have you here. Unfortunately I can't agree with you on the mowing. However my electric mower blew up so I purchased a old fashioned push along. Maybe I will enjoy it more, or hate it more.

  5. Hi Jason,I will probably have to make some kind of a run for our hens too as they are inclined to poop indescriminately on the gravel when they are out.
    You asked about our strawberries: if you get new runners from someone who already has strawberries or buy?! new plants then 3 years is the optimum time for good harvests from them. Discard or pass on the runners from these the first 2 years then repot them for yourself the third year to have a continuous supply.
    We have 2 rows, one row is now in its second year and the other has reached its last year so will be replaced with new runners this year.

  6. Peggy thanks for the strawberry info. I thought I had heard they needed to be replaced every year, but something about that didn't seem right. Luckily I haven't replaced them and next season will be their third.

  7. Hi Jason, I only just got a chance to look at your blog. I think the chook help is the best idea. However, my hubby is a horticulturist (not practising) and has suggested something called "Root barrier" (councils use it along foot paths to stop weeds coming up). Basically it's black plastic approx 1 ft wide with dimples. You put it vertically in the ground { this inhibits the roots from penetrating and invading the garden bed. the only down side is the top can still creep over, but this is a much slower invasion and easier to control. Your chooks will easily take care of this and it will keep them healthy to boot! Hope this helps. take care Yollie

  8. Sweetie thanks for sharing. Even though the chickens protect 75% of the perimeter, a concrete path 20%, I still have 5% unprotected. And I wasn't sure what I was going to do. Now I do, thanks.

  9. Jason I love your set up. Do you think you could do a post where you take pics of your garden again, especially your chicken 'moat' and he house? I'm looking for ideas for my own place the girls roaming free is starting to get a bit wearisome! Thank you.

    1. I loved the idea of chickens roaming free. But my girls just sat at the back door wanting to be let in the house, like a cat or dog. The only difference cats and dogs don't shit on the door step. Yes I would be happy to do a post about my chook solution.


If you don't know which option to select... Name/URL is a recommended option. And you only need to provide a name.