Monday, March 28, 2011

Good job, peckerhead.

I think I just threw up.

Know what that is? A LOT of Bermudagrass. So much that I had to use a full grown dog for perspective.
See how the big pile of weeds looks like it could eat Jada if it were to spontaneously (and frighteningly) animate with a born-in beef with canines?

Yeah - that shit's scary.

Even scarier is when it's growing all surreptitiously beneath and between FOUR layers of landscape fabric, just looking for the tiniest slice of leeway so that it can burrow its evil way through the soil and into *GASP* the vegetable beds.


Now you see why we had to kill it. KILL IT UNTIL IT WAS DEAD. Of course, time will tell whether we actually got it all, but we used Bubba's tried and true method and that soil is now buried under, yes, a 5th layer of contractor grade landscape fabric and will soon be buried under more bark mulch. 

And my careful and protective eye will be scouring the landscape for any suspicious looking sharp green pointy-ness that has the smackings of Bermudagrass. And if I see any - BOY HOWDY - that stuff better have its insurance premiums paid in full because I will not rest until I've eradicated every last hairy root of it.

For those of you who said you cultivate and reseed and grow this stuff with reckless abandon - keep yourselves east of the Mississippi, k? I see you walking around these parts, all weighted down with stray Bermudagrass seed, I might accidentally roll you in a tarp like the one you see in that photo above and set you out at the curb on trash day.

I just can't have Bermudagrass re-infesting my yard! You understand! Don't look at me like that!

In other less psychopathic news, I am excited to report that every last sumptuous crumb of that glorious hand-crafted garden soil made it back into the beds successfully.

And, phew.
Granted, it doesn't look that sumptuous right now, since the soil has dried a bit since shoveling (and shoveling and shoveling and shoveling) it back from the big steaming pile, but I assure you, its suptuousnessocity is unparalleled. It's had more than two weeks to simmer and smolder and cook down the nitrogen-rich fava bean matter under its plastic sauna and when I shoveled it back into the beds yesterday, it was crumbly and wormy and dark and OH JUST THE BEST.

I may even go out on a limb here and say that when I test it, and I will test it, the deficiencies will be slight - if at all. I know! Big talk! But we'll see...I'm still going to test it to be sure.

And I suggest you do, too - test your soil that is. It sounds like a pain and like it's really boring and there are some people out there who will argue whether those soil test kits from the hardware store are really accurate or meaningful and I am here to tell you that my answers to all that are Yes, Yes and As far as I can tell, they are.

To be clear:
Yes - it's a pain
Yes - it's really boring
As far as I can tell, these soil test kits from the hardware store produce meaningful results

And if you doubt me on any of these points, I will direct your attention to the 200+ lbs of tomatoes I grew from just four plants and the 273 lbs of produce I grew altogether last year
You don't grow 273 lbs of produce from a 90 square foot garden if your soil's shitty, folks. And, at one point, I had shitty soil. And then I tested it. And I amended it (organically) accordingly. And then I grew 200+ lbs of tomatoes from four plants in one season. So there. If the soil test kit was useless, then oh well, it at least got me to adding enough amendment to bring my soil into good health WITHOUT overdoing it.

See, that's the other end of the soil spectrum. You can have inert and useless soil like I had or you can have scorchingly over amended soil with too much of any number of things and actually end up frying your plants. Both ways are bad.

So, why be bad? At least in this case. You can test to find out just how much you need to add and then add it. And then grow a lot of tomatoes (and cucumbers and melons and beans and herbs and peppers and tomatillos - but always two plants - and so on). 

Just don't neglect your soil, OK? If I were Bob Barker, I'd be saying something about having your pets spayed and neutered right now - it's only the right thing to do.

But that's not my thing - do with your pets what you will - but with your soil - please test it. And then grow a lot of fantastic vegetables.

And if you find Bermudagrass - TEAR IT THE FUCK OUT. Then lay down another layer of landscape fabric, cover it in bark mulch (that's next) and get to installing your bees (4/7), planting your vegetables and living happily ever after this summer, peckerheads.


  1. I showed this to Matt who said I better learn to love the dandelions and prickly things in our yard because he refuses to do anything about it other than mow it. So.. sad day.

    BUT I want you to know on payday we are purchasing shovels (TWO!) so we can properly insulate our house's foundation. Because that explains why my front porch looks to have gone through an earthquake. And why two BRAND NEW windows need to be replaced. *angry eyes here*

  2. Dude. I actually have soil to test now and suddenly I want to go get a kit right now!

    But (and how do I say this without sounding like the jerk who wins a hand at poker even though she has never played?) do I still need to test if there is such abundant growing in there? As in, there is arugula and kale and parsley and maybe some lettuce all tangled up and going crazy all on its own. I didn't plant any of it but I am trying to do right by my adopted plants here. So would a good, responsible gardener test the soil anyway?

    Also, what if my cat poops in the garden?

  3. Yeah landscaping fabric is the only way to go about that really.

  4. Your beds look so full of potential! Personally, I'm worried that I don't have enough actual dirt in mine. Yes, they're completely full, but of lasagna gardening materials. And I'm thinking that the layers of real dirt that I added were neither deep enough nor plentiful enough. Also, the compost materials aren't broken down enough for me to get a decent sample to test. I'm thinking I need to water it well and put the plastic back on to get it cooking (after I add another truckload or two of actual dirt).

  5. Oooo. Virgin soil. Soon there will be seeds and things growing and TOMATOES! For you, I mean. Not for me. It's 24 degrees here at the moment. Fucking winter won't let go this year. Luckily, I have you to live vicariously through. (Through whom I can live vicariously? That's probably more grammatically correct, but sounds incredibly pretentious.)

  6. I covet your garden-building abilities, Fin-garten-meister. What about hens? Are you going to have hens next since you got the whole bee-thing blessed and ready to go?
    (your learning friend Kat)

  7. This is a nearly verbatim transcript of my thoughts when I first opened this post in my reader:

    "Peckerhead". Huh, they must've gotten the bermudagrass out of the yard then. Damn that's a lot of grass... Holy shit, is that fucking JADA? Jesus H. Christ that is a fucking scary amount of anything to have to yank out of the ground. It's a good thing Jada was in the pic for perspective.


    At first glance I thought Jada was a cat that had strayed into your yard for a nap or something, and even with a cat for scale that's still a scary huge pile. I want to take a match to the whole evil mound of it, just from seeing the pic, and I don't even know anything about gardening. (Yet. I finally got a teeny bit of outdoor space that I am going to turn into a monster of a container garden. If I don't kill everything dead in five minutes flat, which is always a possibility with me and plants.)

  8. I honestly did not get the full scope on how big that mound was until I realized you were pointing out Jada was in the pic. I went back, looked for Jada, and WHOA! And she's not a small dog! (No offense Jada - I'm not calling you fat. Not even calling you big boned. You're just not a chihuahua!)

    Daaaamn - glad I don't have to deal with that bermuda grass shit.

    And yessss, I know, I should be doing my soil testing. The good news is our super cool garden center (that's not super close) does free soil tests Saturday mornings in April. Sweet!

  9. Ugh pulled out a few pieces of that shit today. The nerve working it's way back into my flowers!!

    I haven't done the soil test thing. It looks like so much work. Maybe I could get my kids that like science to do it for me. What a great idea I just had!

    When are you putting stuff in the ground? Did you start from seed in the house? I'm thinking it's warm enough now here.

  10. Sarah - At least you're not nuking them with chemicals. I'll just be grateful for that. Enjoy your new shovels ;)

    Melissa - Well, if you want to keep alive the things that are growing in there, you'll have to wait to test (and amend) until after they've passed their prime and you can take them out. I wait until after I've dug in the fava beans to test the soil. If your cat poops in there, well, it only really sucks for you if you're digging in it and find a cat donut. Otherwise, it's not the worst thing to happen to a garden. Just wash everything you harvest, OBVIOUSLY BECAUSE EW.

    Wendy - Yes - cooking is good! And the plastic approach is also good. My mom does that and the sauna is very beneficial.

    As long as you can test and amend, I bet it will be AOK. Good luck! Hope this is your 200# year :)

    Kris - It does, but you know I love it. Pretentious self-important grammar is my thing, baby!

    But yes - I've been fantasizing about getting my seeds into that soil. Which sounds porny but is really just very, very dorky.

    Kat - NO CHICKENS! Now, I love chickens, don't get me wrong. And I'd love to have a hen on my hip while I wander the garden and one to eat all the no-no bugs that get in the vegetables, but with the bees and garden and patio and everything, there's not enough room. Plus, we barely eat the eggs that come in our farmshare, so no. Sorry :(

    Amy - I do believe that Jada was afraid of the pile, too. Which is why she has her back turned. She couldn't face its evil. IT'S TOO MUCH EVIL.

    Jeph - NO WAY!

    Free soil testing?

    Do they give you all the NPK results?

    I wish they had that around here. I'd pay good $$$!

    Perhaps I should start a business wherein *I* charge people for the service? As though *I* know a thing about science...

    Mom - Oh it's warm enough. Tomorrow the seeds and plants go in. As soon as I'm done with 100 other pre-planting tasks, including the soil testing and amending.

    The only thing I'm starting in the house is the pepper. We'll see if the fucker even grows. I have my doubts.

    If you can outsource the testing/amending, I say do it. It's a bit tedious.


[2013 update: You can't comment as an anonymous person anymore. Too many douchebags were leaving bullshit SPAM comments and my inbox was getting flooded, but if you're here to comment in a real way like a real person, go to it.]

Look at you commenting, that's fun.

So, here's the thing with commenting, unless you have an email address associated with your own profile, your comment will still post, but I won't have an email address with which to reply to you personally.

Sucks, right?

Anyway, to remedy this, I usually come back to my posts and post replies in the comment field with you.

But, if you ever want to email me directly to talk about pumpkins or shoes or what it's like to spend a good part of your day Swiffering - shoot me an email to finnyknitsATgmailDOTcom.