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plants that can compete with tall grass?

 
                          
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Hi,

Last fall I made seed balls and distributed them around in dead grass on the property I am renting, which is roughly 1.5 acres of tall grass. At this point, I hope to live here for many years. I don't know what type of grasses they are. In any case, none of the seed balls resulted in plants growing, as far as I can tell.

What can I broadcast or put in seedballs to gradually convert the grassland so that I can try to make something that will be like a food garden, and not be concentrated clumps of garden which the deer will devour immediately. Sorrel is mixed in with the grass, but what else can compete?

I also have some mulched beds, with nothing growing yet. But, 1.5 acres of mulched beds would take a very long time to make.
 
Dave Miller
Posts: 409
Location: Zone 8b: SW Washington
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queshaw wrote:
Hi,

Last fall I made seed balls and distributed them around in dead grass on the property I am renting, which is roughly 1.5 acres of tall grass. At this point, I hope to live here for many years. I don't know what type of grasses they are. In any case, none of the seed balls resulted in plants growing, as far as I can tell.

What can I broadcast or put in seedballs to gradually convert the grassland so that I can try to make something that will be like a food garden, and not be concentrated clumps of garden which the deer will devour immediately. Sorrel is mixed in with the grass, but what else can compete?

I also have some mulched beds, with nothing growing yet. But, 1.5 acres of mulched beds would take a very long time to make.

In my yard (and other places nearby), I have seen stinging nettle outcompete even the most aggressive grasses (e.g. reed canarygrass).  Once you're ready to use the land, nettle is very easy to cut, leaving nearly barren ground, although I am sure it would regrow after mowing.  I would guess that sheet mulch or perhaps repeated mowing would defeat it just fine.  But it does spread by roots so I would do an experiment first to make sure you can convert from nettle to whatever your final goal is.
 
Kate Fortesque-McPeake
Posts: 29
Location: PA, zone 6b
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What about some of the mustards?  Those seeds seem to come up through just about anything.  Some of them are quite tall.  Some have corkscrew roots that drill down deeply, improving drainage. 

I second the sheet mulching suggestion.  If doing the whole area is impractical, then consider doing strips or patches where you can beat down the grass and give other plants a chance.  You could seed those patches with aggressive stuff that will compete with the grass and make inroads. 

You could also just ignore the grass until you need more space.  Sheet mulch it only as your plantings require.  It's doing a decent job of controlling erosion at the moment.  And you could cut it as needed for mulching whatever plants you grow in your beds.  The problem is the solution, maybe?
 
Jordan Lowery
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Location: zone 7
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you just left the grass all super tall? i find it works best to either get some animals to cut it before sowing seed balls, or simply just knock it down on its side like a snow naturally would.

what type of plants are you trying to toss out there too? i make corn seedballs and toss them out in the white clover/wild grass, they grow through it and grow great. but the corn seed has some power behind it, compared to say some broccoli or lettuce.
 
                                    
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what climate are you in? many prairie plants are already adapted to growing with tall grasses.
 
Emerson White
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Location: Alaska
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Trees and bushes compete with tall grass. It's very difficult for tall grass to grow tall in the shade.
 
John Polk
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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I would try mowing the grass as short as possible, then sow a fairly thick blanket of buckwheat.  It grows so fast, the grass may not get enough sun to regrow.  Buckwheat is neither a grass, nor cereal, but grows like them, tall and erect.  It is often grown as a smothering crop.
 
                    
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i have wild highly edible purslane competing with grass
 
Sylvain Picker
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Location: Montreal, Canada
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John Polk wrote:I would try mowing the grass as short as possible, then sow a fairly thick blanket of buckwheat.  It grows so fast, the grass may not get enough sun to regrow.  Buckwheat is neither a grass, nor cereal, but grows like them, tall and erect.  It is often grown as a smothering crop.

In non plowed land the buckwheat may or may not grow. I once tried growing buckwheat on ΒΌ acre by mowing the grass very low, broadcasting buckwheat seeds and then rolling them with a heavy roller (never had success with buckwheat Seedballs). The buckwheat came beautifully and it was amazing to see that carpet of young seedlings. But they never grew more than 6 inches... It is probably because the land was very acidic and the results could have been different on other types of soil.
However I think that this thread on growing edible plants in tall grasses using Seedballs is a fantastic idea if we want to get out of the agro-industrial world we are currently living in. We should definitively explore wilder plants as a food source because these wild plants have much more power to fight against the tall grasses and succeed when sown broadcast or in Seedballs.
 
Toby Hemenway
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The problem here is that if you try to seed annuals under established grasses, especially perennial grasses, you are pushing succession backwards. Annual herbaceous plants, especially the ones we eat, are early succession species. Grasses are slightly later, and perennial grasses later still (shrubs are next). This is an oversimplification, but the grasses have created conditions that are not favorable to the establishment of annual herbs. As people suggested, you need to set back the grasses. They are shading the seedballs, and I'll bet everything in the seedballs needs sun. Seedballs are not the silver bullet that some people expect them to be.
 
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