Sunday, January 21, 2007

Couch Grass

We got down to the allotment for a few hours yesterday and dug up plenty of couch grass. Couch grass looks pretty much like normal grass above ground but below ground the roots are like spaghetti - thick and invasive. The easiest way of getting rid of it organically is to cover it all with a thick light-proof layer like old carpet, but that takes months. We did it the hard way - fork it all up and remove as many roots as possible by hand. It's back-breaking, and I feel stiff and achey this morning.

The area which we have designated for soft fruit now looks like a pretty respectable tilth. But we know that if you dig down, there are still plenty of buried bits of couch grass root. Each tiny fragment of root is capable of growing into more horrible couch grass as soon as the weather warms up, and ideally we'd like to eradicate it entirely but that's probably not possible in the short term without using a chemical herbicide.

We'll go back tomorrow and dig it all over again and remove as much as possible. But at some point we'll call it a day and plant the fruit bushes Ed gave me for Christmas. I need to look up how much space they need, but I hope there will be room left over for some strawberry plants. Then each time we go to the allotment we'll spend a bit of time pulling up any couch grass that dares to show its face, and in time we'll kill it all I hope.

I hate couch grass. The only kind of couch grass I like is the kind in the picture, which comes from ReadyMade Mag.

(If you haven't signed the petition to save Manor Gardens Allotments, here's the link again: http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/manorgardens/ )

7 comments:

Mel's Dad said...

I do understand your reluctance to use chemicals in ordinary circumstances but, if this couch grass is so stubborn and detrimental to your planting aspirations, why the antipathy to using an artificial aid which science has given us? To my simple mind, not using it seems akin to that of some cults abhorrence to blood transfusions or antibiotics. Yes, avoid chemicals where you can, but not where you cannot.

I've signed your allotment petition by the way. Now, that I do understand.

Clare said...

You have couch grass, I have bindweed - it is similarly tenacious. I'm also very reluctant to use chemicals, in the kind of way your Dad mentions. I do feel as though perhaps I'm taking the 'be as organic as possible' thing too far if it means that I'm struggling so much. But I'm loathe to give in just yet. It turns out I'm even more stubborn than the bindweed!

Hedgewizard said...

Digging only encourages the damned stuff. Yes, if you're meticulous and there at least twice a week you can nab it all as it comes up, but you only have to miss two weeks due to illness or holiday and - poof! - do not pass go, do not collect £200. Get the carpet out!

Steph, Mel's sister said...

If all you're using the ground for is flowers, then I can see dad's point. but I used a chemical in the containers in the back to stop a horrible vine weevel invasion I had this summer, and not only has it meant I can't eat any of the succulant herbs I was growing, the chemical has also affected the three bay trees I have, so now none of the mature leaves can be used in cooking, and I'm very worried that the effects will run into next years planting season.

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