Every summer there is something: heat, spider mites, wind, drought, rain. This year it was weeds ~ particularly: bermuda grass.
Weed pulling is a garden chore I don’t really mind, believe it or not, but bermuda is a different story altogether.
If you aren’t familiar with it (and you’re lucky if you’re not) the stuff propagates by stolons on the top surface, and rhizomes underneath, sending down deep roots in search of moisture.
If you want a heat tolerant lawn this is a fantastic concept.
If you prefer a garden instead, this is a nightmare.
In building our garden, we have primarily used the sheet composting method, laying down layers of compostable materials such as newspaper, cardboard, mulch, etc. The first layer of cardboard is supposed to smother the grass and then enrich the soil.
This worked well enough in our urban homestead garden but here ~ not so much, and I’m not sure why. All of our raised beds, including those in which we’re trying to grow okra, cucumbers, and beans, house a lovely pouf of green grass that will not leave.
Pulling bermuda only seems to encourage it to grow. There is no way to completely eradicate it except by physically removing it (just not possible right now, we’re talking acres) or a popular chemical in a bottle whose active ingredient is glyphosate (I really can’t use that).
At a loss as to what could be done we decided to try vinegar.
This was not the first time we resorted to this technique. The first year we did this, I misread the info and just used a jug of plain ole white vinegar purchased at the store.
The grass barely withered.
Then I realized that what I was supposed to be using was 20% vinegar. This is an entirely different product.
Folks, this is strong stuff. Do not use this on your cucumber salad.
I emptied the jug into a sprayer, added a small amount of dish soap to make it stick, and one afternoon tackled one of the less scary beds.
In this bed, I had added a top layer of cardboard and wood chip mulch to smother the grass, but within a day it had started to take over again, coming up around the edges.
Armed with my sprayer and potent stuff, I started in the morning spraying to completely cover each blade.
By afternoon, I was seeing some progress. The tips of the grass had started to turn brown.
A few more applications over the course of the next few days and it looked like there was some hope. The grass had completely dried up and the dead debris could easily be pulled out by hand leaving the bed nice and clean ~ free of grass and weeds.
The 20% vinegar, at least for now, is a keeper.
If you decide to try this here are a few pointers:
Choose a warm, sunny day.
The warmth and the sun coupled with the vinegar are what seems to make this work.
Commit to more than one application.
This is not a spray once and your done sortofa deal. You’ll need to come back the following day, and then most likely a third in order to get the job done.
Vinegar isn’t waterproof.
If rain is in the forecast, you’ll need to wait. Once I started spraying, we had a few days of rain, and moisture ya’ know is what encourages grass to grow, so I had green shoots coming up through the area I had just sprayed. Frustrating ~ but there it is.
Vinegar will only kill the top growth.
This natural alternative is not like the stuff in a bottle. This is not a systemic herbicide that will kill the grass all the way down to the roots. Unfortunately this will just take care of what is on the surface, and if the rhizomes are still there, they’ll be back.
Bottom line: you’ll need to make spraying one of your regular garden chores and always have a jug of vinegar on hand.
Do you have a bermuda grass problem in your garden? How do you take care of your weeds?
This is the vinegar we used:
And this is the kind of sprayer you will need:
Find this post and others like it linked to: Wildcrafting Wednesday, Mountain Woman Rendezvous, Frugal Days Sustainable Ways, The HomeAcre Hop From the Farm Blog Hop, The Homestead Barn Hop, Homemade Mondays, Tutorials Tips and Tidbits