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do I REALLY have to worry about grass?  RSS feed

 
Emily Jacques
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We didn't set up our raised bed in an exactly grass-proof way, so I've always got St. Augustine grass sneaking into the bed. Since we're outta here less than three years from now, I'm not going to put the time/effort into redoing it into a hugelkultur bed.

I've been hearing a lot lately about how weeds aren't as big leeches as traditional gardeners talk about, and can even be a help in the garden. So that's got me to wondering--does grass really suck up a lot of nutrients/water from the veggies? Esp. a relatively drought-tolerant variety like St. Augustine? Can I just let it grow in my garden bed and not worry about it drying up the soil therein?

Thanks.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
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i'm not familiar with st augestines grass, but we have a bane to our existance here, quack grass..also known by other names.

grass will rob your garden of it's nutrients and clog it and kill plants, esp bad for fruit trees.

however, if you get enough shade into the area, you can shade out the grasses..eventually.

if you are not planning on staying, then I wouldn't kill myself over it though
 
Jordan Lowery
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there are weeds, and then there is grass. i put them in two different categories. and imo the grass has to go 99% of the time unless its a native clumping grass. weeds build soil, grass just wants to grow with grass, and lots of it.
 
Paul Cereghino
gardener
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You don't have to "worry", just live with the outcome   Keep some and leave some and observe what happens on your site.  I exclude rhizomatous grass in Pc zone 1 and 2, but not zone 3.  Weed control is often a symptom of inadequate canopy cover.
 
Terri Matthews
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Location: Eastern Kansas
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If you are raising greens, the grass will probably execute them, and you will not harvest hardly anything.

If you are raising melons, they will probably be fine.

In my experience, the trouble with grass is not so much nutrients but room and shade. Vegetables are more tasty than they are strong, and they simply cannot compete for light and room if the weeds are rank.

Exceptions, of course, are the really BIG vegetables like squash and such. They seem to be able to compete with everything except Johnson grass, and Johnson grass is not only invasive it grows 5 feet tall.

Gardening is as much an art as it is a science. If you think that a vegetables looks happy it probably is. If the grass you mention-and I am not familiar with that variety of grass- is not terribly tall then you might have a fine garden even if you have grass in it.

I am, by the way, getting vegetables established in an area that has our big, native midwestern grasses in it. Asparagus is doing fine with no weeding. Chives survived. Onions failed. Squash failed but then half the squash in my area failed that year. Etc. Some plants do well and some do not!
 
Dan Wallace
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I'm tolerant of non rhizomatic grass but anything with rhizomes is the devil incarnate!
 
Emily Jacques
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bikemandan wrote:
I'm tolerant of non rhizomatic grass but anything with rhizomes is the devil incarnate!


And St. Augustine is rhizomatic. Alas. I guess I'll just rip it out as it appears, but not worry about completely eradicating it.
 
John Polk
steward
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Fruit trees should have no grass under them until they are well established (+/- 3 years) in their spot.  After that, grass could help them.  Orchard grass is still commonly planted in orchards.

Some plants are not too badly harmed by grass, and for others, it creates a serious problem.  Many plants (and corn is a prime example) need lots of sun, and have a "shade avoidance mode" built into them.  Upon sprouting, if they are getting green spectrum light bouncing onto the undersides of their leaves they send a signal to the brain that says "I gotta get real tall QUICK".  All energy that would have gone into root development is now diverted into stalk development.  They will be the tallest stalks in the field. but they will never have the root structure needed to produce a decent crop.  Studies in corn fields have reported 30-40% loss of crop when weeds were present at sprouting time.
 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
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Studies in corn fields have reported 30-40% loss of crop when weeds were present at sprouting time.


which weeds? i plant "weeds" with my corn to get a better crop. things like purslane and lambs quarters will give me a greater yield in the corn crop and i get two other crops to eat.
 
                                              
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John Polk wrote:
Fruit trees should have no grass under them until they are well established (+/- 3 years) in their spot.  After that, grass could help them.  Orchard grass is still commonly planted in orchards.

Some plants are not too badly harmed by grass, and for others, it creates a serious problem.  Many plants (and corn is a prime example) need lots of sun, and have a "shade avoidance mode" built into them.  Upon sprouting, if they are getting green spectrum light bouncing onto the undersides of their leaves they send a signal to the brain that says "I gotta get real tall QUICK".  All energy that would have gone into root development is now diverted into stalk development.  They will be the tallest stalks in the field. but they will never have the root structure needed to produce a decent crop.  Studies in corn fields have reported 30-40% loss of crop when weeds were present at sprouting time.



  very interesting, though i didnt find this as true in my trials with the three sisters set p in previous years. Part of what i did was to stagger planting the various layers, and also giving various amounts of spacing to each type of plant. in some cases the corn was planted after beans. that corn did as well as the rest, although this was a small trial.
 
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