Monday, June 20, 2011

Amazing how long you can look at a hill of weeds and think the problem is too big. And by just getting started and breaking the work into separate three hour tasks, how simple it can become. This post is about getting in and tackling the hard tasks that appear overwhelming, and are tempting to ignore. But once you get in and start work it is great to get a result.

Firstly, I marked out the area where I would plant the grasses, and estimated I needed about 16 plants for a dense planting. I had been stumped as to what to plant on the slope, so I had left the weeds and cut it back, or raked it into balls and tried to mulch it every now and then. But it would grow back within a season and I would have to do it all over again.
My new approach is to use the permaculture principle of creating multiple islands of grasses that eventually join up to create a large weed free space like a patchwork.

I dug up grasses from my front yard which I had planted three years ago to fix nitrogen in a weed overgrown garden bed. The grasses have grown thick at the base and have worked really well, so instead of buying more I uprooted them with a fork and split the thicket into individual plants, with roots attached. I cut off the long leaves so reduce stress and planted them directly in amongst the weeds out the backyard.

Third, I dug a hole in the weedmat with a single shovel strike, and pushed the grass into the pocket of soil, then closed it back again.

This aspect is south facing with deep shade and canopy of tall trees. The planting site has a steep slope, loose mulch cover, and rich black compost underneath as it was a dump for grass cuttings and garden waste for years - plus a few frogs! See my left index finger? I reckon this is a pretty big frog - they are usually tiny ones the size of your thumbnail.

It is great to finally make some progress on a difficult site! It is part of the reason we bought the property - or more importantly - why no one else wanted the property, with the steep slope bisecting the backyard. But with some creative garden planting and attention to permaculture, I'm confident I can turn it into a productive space.

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