Garden update

I saw the first direct seeded moschatas and the first of the zucchini x spaghetti squash this morning. No sign of watermelons yet, but I don’t expect them until it gets a little warmer.

Three tomatoes survived both my casual neglect and the chicks in the greenhouse. I planted them out today, as well as the first batch of cucumbers.

If it freezes again no loss, but I might get lucky and have something survive. If it doesn’t freeze, they’ll have a head start on the season.

I need to start the next batch, one foot farther from the woodchips.

I bought this place last October, and the whole three acres is monoculture grass. I want to do small seed crops like carrots and onions, but…

Has anyone found a way to successfully seed directly into grass?

I tried broadcast sowing beans into grass once. Quite a number germinated but they didn’t thrive and produced no beans. Most didn’t even flower.
Sorry to be a killjoy!

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Not a killjoy at all. I asked. :slight_smile:

I am planning to do beans the same way I did the others. I just don’t think ot will work for really small seeds.

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This year, I’m digging up big clumps of my yard in order to get out star of Bethlehem bulbs and clumps of bindweed (the latter of which will probably grow back, but at least I tried). I figure any spot where I’ve disturbed the soil and left a bare space is a place to try an edible groundcover that has a chance of competing with the grass.

So far, I’ve sown a patch of magentaspreen and lambsquarters seeds in spots where there were buckets of star of Bethelehem bulbs before. I’ll probably try creeping thyme in the next space. I’m also seriously considering planting garlic in a spot where the stars of Bethlehem were. Replacing one cold hardy bulb that can grow through the winter with another – why not?

Oh, and I stuck strawberries in the spot around my mailbox after digging out stars of Bethlehem there, because why not? I didn’t bother to pull out the grass, because I’ve seen the strawberries in my back yard compete very favorably with the grass and spread out into it.

I don’t know what your climate is like or what grows in untended places but here I just pitch handfuls of little garlic bulbils out in the weeds, and they colonize into dense patches. It’s everywhere, I don’t grow it in the garden proper much anymore.

I had to look up star of Bethlehem, yep, we have that too, so I suspect garlic would do the same for you.

Cool! I’m happy to hear that works for you! I’ve been looking at the garlic in my garden beds and going, “Do I even need to put this in there? I bet it would grow anywhere!”

Especially since I plan to just leave it in the ground until I feel like harvesting it. I see no reason whatsoever to dry it out and keep it in the house. I’d rather just let it turn into a big clumping perennial that I can harvest anytime the ground’s not frozen. Then I can just harvest a bulb whenever I want one. Convenience!

@Lauren I’m currently “tractoring” chickens in grassy spots and leaving them longer than normal and then planting into that space. I’ll let you know how it goes. Borage has competed well with grass and reseeds, and yes, strawberries seem to like it since it’s so hot here. I think the grass helps keep things cooler for them.
@UnicornEmily oh no bindweed! Still trying to figure this one out here. We have it big time. Red clover seems to outcompete if we give it a leg up by weeding while it establishes. Hand “mowing” around crops. In some cases, bindweed also seems to act as a living mulch, cooling, etc. Supposedly it has mycorrhizal relationships. And so far, it doesn’t seem to be negatively allelopathic, but starting seeds in dense stands hasn’t worked great. Bees and beneficial insects use it. Teparies and beans grow in it if we weed at planting. Peppers seem to hate it.

That’s really useful to know! Do you think peas would grow well in it too, given that they’re a legume? I’m thinking of planting peas around the legs of my children’s swingset, since it’ll work as a trellis, and the kids really like to pick pea pods and eat them. I figure if I grow peas up the legs of the swing set, that’ll make it convenient for the kids to harvest them whenever they want.

If peppers seem to hate it, do you think tomatoes will, too?

Bindweed is such a struggle to remove. Those roots go down deep. Stars of Bethlehem are tough because their bulbs are so strong that the leaves can punch up through layers of cardboard, but they are pretty shallow (unless you deep mulched and they grew right up through it), so they’re pretty easy to remove if you find them all before mulching, and don’t miss any of the little bitty ones. (Ask me how I know.)

I “weeded” garlic at my last house. Put a bulb in the ground, don’t harvest it and you have a clump of garlic grass that spreads every year.

Excellent. (Steeples fingers.) So I’m not the only person who’s thought about doing this, and it has worked. Muah ha haaaaa!

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My mother had a running battle with bindweed.

Her battle plan:

Don’t let it go to seed.

Pull all seedlings. Mom religiously patrolled the borders of the yard for seedlings, since the neighbors were infested.

Pull the vines back and look for the “parent” plant. It’s entirely possible that the whole mat goes back to just a few main stems. Once you find it, dig down as far as you can get and put a can over the root stump. That particular root won’t come back. If you can get down two feet you’re probably past the secondary roots, which will no longer have the support of the extensive underground root system and may be easier to eradicate.

When I sold the house, every yard around us was heavily infested. I found one seedling that spring, near a neighbor’s yard.

I can’t say for sure that her system was the deciding factor, but something made a difference. It is possible to win!

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Please note that garlic, while it will easily form clumps, will not form both clumps AND big roots. The roots will be constrained by the space and will probably be pretty skinny.

I personally have no problem with this, but some might.

Have it in wild clumps and transplant a few into the garden for bulb harvest? Haven’t grown garlic so this is a guess and a question.

Putting a can on top of the bindweed root stump is a very clever idea.

I wonder if I could do it with something thick and hard that will biodegrade eventually, such as a dried bottle gourd? Would the bindweed root come back after the rind has rotted away in a year or two, or would it create enough of a delay to kill the root all by itself?

If nobody’s tested it out, it may be worth trying to see.

Maybe a bottle gourd popped over the top of the root, then a few layers of cardboard on top, then a layer of pinecones on top of that (since pinecones take forever to break down)? Might be great hugelkultur and weed suppression, all in one.


I wonder if this would also work for other weeds with roots that grow suckers upwards. Like, say, those Siberian elm weed trees.

Oh! Another thought! I’ve found I can kill a Siberian elm root by overfertilizing it to death.

Specifically, I dig up as much as possible, end up with a stump, remove the dirt from around it, and then start pouring a large #10 can full of undiluted urine on it every day. After about 10 to 20 applications (10 to 20 days), it starts to look like it’s breaking down, and it stops putting out new leaves. At that point, the root won’t sprout anymore! I can just put dirt on top and plant on it!

And whatever I plant on top is very happy, because all that fertilizer is several feet deep in the soil, so it won’t burn my crops, but it is available if they want to grow down to it.

I wonder if a similar approach would work well for bindweed.

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It’s useful to know that garlic won’t form big bulbs when it’s clumping. Not the end of the world, by any means, but it’s a great argument for digging up the clump whenever you feel so inclined and separating out the bulbils and popping them into new spaces. It makes sense that garlic would work that way, because most plants that clump seem to prefer being dug up and separated out once a year or so.

I read in a foraging book recently that stands of Jerusalem artichokes do far better when they’re harvested than when they’re not. The author said that the best way to kill a Jerusalem artichoke patch is to leave it unharvested for a decade – he’s done that twice with patches he didn’t want in his garden, and they eventually died out completely because they got too thick and choked each other out!

I found that to be a fascinating concept. He said that crop management means reducing competition, which sometimes means weeding, but can sometimes just mean harvesting. (By humans or animals, either way.) I got the impression from what he was saying that anything that’s really good at self-sowing or dividing will be much happier if it’s thinned out regularly to have large portions of it eaten.

Very cool.

My Jerusalem artichoke at my old house spread pretty slowly (planted in a dry area), but after a few years of not harvesting the inside of the clump died.

Probably useful to realize that this is a root crop, and in the wild would probably be harvested by gophers, or wild pigs, or whatever.

Since bindweed is a pioneer species it makes sense that it would do best in low nutrient environments.

I had someone tell me a while back that it needs soils that are low in available calcium. Don’t know how accurate that might be.

Oh, interesting! I’m saving my eggshells and grinding them into powder whenever I’ve got a bunch, and dumping the eggshell powder in my garden, as a calcium boost for the soil. Sounds like I should put it wherever I have bindweed growing in my garden beds! Even if it doesn’t work to get rid of the bindweed, the presence of bindweed may be a good biosign signaling, “The soil is low in calcium here.”

Let us know if it works. I would be satisfied with well behaved bindweed.