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The Darwinian Gardener fills in the blanks  RSS feed

 
duane hennon
gardener
Posts: 763
Location: western pennsylvania zone 5/a
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some friends who moved to Florida sent me this article
since it reminded them of me

http://www.news-journalonline.com/news/20170711/footnote-darwinian-gardener-fills-in-blanks

Footnote: The Darwinian Gardener fills in the blanks


The Darwinian Gardener thinks of crabgrass as a volunteer plant. A stage in his lawn’s evolution. Even slight cold stuns crabgrasses in the winter, which means in spring, nicer greenery enjoys a head start in their battle for supremacy.

In the meantime, it looks pleasantly green, and after a mowing, it looks great at a distance. And most people do keep a distance from his lawn.
 
Tj Jefferson
pollinator
Posts: 212
Location: Virginia USDA 7a/b
23
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I am in the process of converting a tiny "lawn" area a la Paul's lawn article. My wife REALLY wants a little bit of lawn, which is fine, she puts up with all sorts of my shenanigans out there.

The only downside with crabgrass is that it is quite allelopathic. I have areas that are bare as can be all winter, and I planted several varieties of perennial grasses last fall. They all came up sickly and never really thrived. In one area I took great pains to remove the root balls of the crabgrass, and they perennial grass is doing well. Probably with Paul's lawncare plan the perennial grasses would gradually work into the bare areas, but it may take a long, long time. I think the best thing for a really crabgrass-infested area might be to amend/till, plant clover and perennial grass in the fall (depending on your climate maybe early spring) and hit the reset button. The soil where the crabgrass is dominant is dirt, it is exposed for probably 7-8 months a year at least. Alternatively some straw mulch in the summer to inhibit the warming of the soil may be super, crabgrass needs pretty warm soil to germinate and grow avidly, since it is a C4 grass.

This is not an area I am spending much time but I get more questions from my friends about lawns than any other topic, by far! I consider lawns a gateway drug to permaculture...
 
Travis Johnson
pollinator
Posts: 1197
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TJ: what is your PH levels as I assumed you have not limed that area due to cost since other conversations on here have gave me that thought? I know here Smooth Bedstraw is a sure sign of low PH, where as Queen Annes Lace is a sign of low nitrogen. Just adding lime might make the fight a little less brutal.

You could reverse permiculture it too.

Crabgrass is like dandelion I think, in that secretes a toxin that kills other plants. If that is the case you will have trouble getting the good grass established. If no till makes good grass thrive, then till it until you kill the crabgrass, then sow with the good grass and douse the cover crop seed to it to discourage weed growth. That is what I do for my fields when I crop rotate them. You do have to cut the cover crop when it is in boot stage so that it does not crowd out the grass you want to grow, but adds nitrogen and gives the field/lawn a green look to boot.
 
Tj Jefferson
pollinator
Posts: 212
Location: Virginia USDA 7a/b
23
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Oh no I have limed everything this year. Acres and tons of liming. This is just about 500 SF of feminine sensibility area I have been instructed to maintain like the Joneses. I have put down about 100# dolomitic just in there. The clover grew nicely so I am sure I am in the mid-6s at least.

We have some smooth bedstraw for sure out in the fields but less this year. There is one area I think I will till this fall but I may just do the whole thing since it was really mistreated and scalped every summer, fertilized per industry standard etc. I am a bit hesitant since there is some wire grass in there and that may get ahead of everything else. Good advice on the bedstraw.
 
Travis Johnson
pollinator
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I did not know you had Smooth Bedstraw that far down, I thought it was a New England thing: my condolences. We don't have wire grass here, or at least yet!

My sheep tolerate Smooth Bedstraw as it does not bother them, chalk up another benefit to them having wool on their faces, kind of like Poison Ivy, their favorite and preferred food. If you ever want to rid an area of raspberries and poison ivy, sheep are the answer. Holy smokes, I had a patch of the latter one time and they grazed it out of existence in an hours time. Granted it was only 30 feet or so in diameter, but still a pain when it got on you. Heck even the Dr at the Emergency Room did not want to touch me; just gave me a prescription and sent me on my way!
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