Super Grass

I generally get along with most things in nature. The philsophy behind organic growing is to work with nature, not constantly fight it, after all (less hassle and more productive in the long run). Even things that seems to have no other purpose than to frustrate gardeners and growers can have their positives, if you look hard enough. That incredibly annoying and pervasive chickweed shows that you have plenty of nitrogen in the soil, and you can use it in salads or in herbal treatments; or think of it as a living mulch to cover the soil and retain moisture in dry spells – and add fresh nitrogen when you uproot it, or turn into the soil. Thistles have great fragrant flowers that attract pollinators like bees; plus are easy enough to pull out – with gloves – if you time it right (not too dry, not too wet). And hardly anything grows underneath them, so keeps other weeds at bay.

However, when it comes to couch grass, I find it difficult to find an up-side. It’s incredibly hard to erradicate: it grows from rhizomes so even if you pull up what you can see, it’ll grow back from any little bit left in the ground. Rotovating therefore seems to get rid of the problem for a month or so, then you realise that it’s actually chopped up the roots and helped it spread. These underground shoots are real thugs, and pierce any tubers such as spuds lying innocently in their path, often growing right through them, so rendering the spud inedible (or at least, a right pain to peel and remove all the bits of grass sticking in it). The only way I deal with it is to weed by hoeing or hand weeding, and if possible rake up the grass and leave to dry and die in the summer sun (providing there is any sun of course, rather than couch-friendly summer rain which helps the bugger to re-root again). Ideally I’d leave the couchy patch and not grow in it this season, but just go through with some tines on the back of a tractor, or rake by hand, several times in the growing season to pull up most of it and kill it. Sadly the constraints of a small plot means that every inch needs to be utilised this year. More back-and-finger-breaking weeding it is then…

So I have decided there is no good side at all to couch grass. Well, maybe only as the exception that proves the rule. How would we appreciate thistles and chickweed otherwise?!

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