Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Quack Grass - Another Rival

There are only a few things we can rely on with certainty, unfortunately, taxes, death and quack grass are among them!

Quack grass has made it's appearance in our plot once again.   Thanks to Ed, the previous plot owner, we only have a mild infestation in a small corner of our plot.
It may not look bad up top, but down below there's a huge network of rhizomes growing.

One thing I learned growing up on the farm was to always get the roots of quack grass, even the little pieces.  Quack grass has an extensive network of rhizomes underneath the ground that can produce new shoots very quickly.  If you want to get rid of quack grass, you've got to dig deep and get every single rhizome out of the ground.  Even pieces that are only 1-2 cm long can grow into new plants.
Those tricky rhizomes.
Digging and picking out the roots and letting them dry out has been our tried and true method for controlling quack grass.  It's back breaking work, but it works.
Drying out the roots.

Here are some other non-chemical alternatives.  These techniques require more patience than I have, so I've never tried them, but I've heard that they work.

Mulch - Smother quack grass (and other weeds) with a thick layer of mulch (leaves, straw, newspaper).  Just don't be surprised if you find long rhizomes that travel a long distance to pop out along the edge of your mulch in search of light.

Continual Hoeing - If you're patient, you can continually slice off the green blades of quack grass with a hoe.  Eventually, if you're quicker, more stubborn and more persistent than it, the plant will die.  Quack grass, just like any other green plant, needs its green leaves for photosynthesis in order to make its own food.

Solarization/Cooking - If you have a really bad case of quack grass consider cooking it to death with a process called "solarization".  Cover the area with clear plastic for at least 6 weeks.  The idea is to create a tight seal so that everything under the covered area gets "cooked" by the hot sun beating on the plastic.  It takes a long time to kill off all those rhizomes, so be patient.  You'll have to give up planting in this area to make this technique work effectively.

Partial Cooking - I've also heard of people using black plastic and cutting holes in it so they can still grow some plants.  If it works for them, it might work for you.  Just remember, it gets pretty hot under there, so don't plant any plants that prefer to keep cool (most leafy veggies).

Good luck!

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