Shovel, Rake, and Hoe

The shovel, the rake, and the hoe.  Three tools no gardener should be without.  Ever.  They dig, they grade, and the chop the earth.  They cut roots and aid the gardener in tilling when the tiller is kaput.  While they take a little muscle to use they are capable of great deeds, such as Bermuda grass removal!

Raised Bed Vegetable Garden in 2009

Can you guess what I did on Saturday?  If you guessed sipping on a margarita on a cruise ship to Bermuda you aren’t anywhere close. I spent the day, yep pretty much the whole day, in the vegetable garden clearing as many Bermuda grass roots as possible. The insidious beasts had hold of a roughly 12′ by 18′ foot area and were threatening to invade the rest of the garden like Christmas shoppers in the stores on Black Friday.  It wasn’t pretty.

To remove the Bermuda grass I followed a few simple steps:

  1. I removed all obstacles that would make the area hard to dig around.  That included two raised beds and two trellises
  2. I moved all ground covers.  In my case it was cardboard that I used to make the garden pathways weed proof.  Weed proof is too strong a term, let’s just say weed resistant instead…
  3. Then I dug and sifted, dug and sifted, and repeated.  Every sifting brought another knobbly, knotty Bermuda rhizome to the surface.  It also brought forth Johnson grass root rhizomes which is another nemesis of my garden.
  4. I gathered up all the roots and disposed of them in a ditch where they will die from frost exposure. 

Simple yes, but also hard back-aching work. Emphasis on the back-aching part. Fortunately the vegetable garden soil is developing into a rich loamy soil with good drainage… all the better for removing those pesky weeds. The hand tool tilling has an added benefit too. When the soil is churned up in the fall insect eggs get exposed to temperatures that don’t agree with them.  Hopefully it will mean a reduced population of pests for next year.

Here are a few other things I noticed about the Bermuda grass:

  • The areas that were covered with cardboard had a very low concentration of Bermuda grass when compared to other areas. 
  • The Bermuda grass under the cardboard was close to the surface and easier to remove than in the exposed areas.  
  • A similar situation evolved underneath the tarp I placed earlier in the summer.  

While my back isn’t too happy with me at the moment I can rest knowing that a major step in the reclamation of the garden has been accomplished.  The 2012 garden will be better, much better.  There will be Bermuda grass to emerge in the future, I’m sure of it, after all it’s like the song that never ends…it goes on and on my friend…

3 thoughts on “Shovel, Rake, and Hoe”

  1. Dave,
    I have been there in the same fight, it is almost impossible. News on our bindweed invasion (bindweed = morning glory) last year I pulled it out for an entire day, not much as last year maybe 1/5th as much, as I planted pansies today. I did find some huge roots, but not many small ones.

  2. That pesky Bermuda grass is something else. A never ending menace. We use to have to dig it out of the lower garden when kids. Hated that stuff then & still do.
    Must redo one of my "container" gardens as dollar weed has found it's way into it through the hole in the bottom. Aarrrrrg.
    Still cutting lettuce of all kinds. Peppers also. My one lemon is about ready. "Fingers crossed here".

  3. Dave, I've never, ever needed the typical garden hoe, but, I don't have a veggie garden. I do use a rake, a perennial spade and a hoe-dag (really cool hand hand tool). Bermuda grass is such a pain in the patoot! gail

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