- Author: Betsy Buxton
I’m fighting – and losing at this point – with Bermudagrass (Cynodan dactylon). Have you ever had a gardening problem, be it a weed or much-loved plant which fails to thrive, which has you thinking that TNT might be a good herbicide? I have but I’ve decided that explosives might be frowned upon during an IPM discussion.
My foe came into my yard courtesy of my neighbor. Evidently, at one time, they had a lawn in the backyard which extended from the house to the back fence and almost as wide as the entire yard. I never had any stolons come creeping into my yard UNTIL they had a concrete contractor come to install a patio. Well, very soon after that, came little fingers of green from under the fence and into my side yard. Eek, a mouse, er I mean Bermudagrass!
Realizing that since I left to work at 4:30 a.m. and returned around 5pm, I had no time for this “little” green invasion, I put the other adult at home to work (or so I thought). My plan was for Bruce to use the spray bottle of herbicide on the grass slowly creeping toward my roses, but he thought the plan was to merely report the progress the grass was making! Pretty soon, it seemed like only mere minutes, my yard had disappeared under a sea of thick stems and fine leaves. What to do?
Since the day I discovered that “his” plan was not “my plan”, we have been preparing to do battle! Since merely pulling the long, knotty and rather strong strands of grass is not working and our backs are tired; we have gone directly to the last step of IPM and selected our chemical allies.
This process was rather easy since reading the labels on the containers (the 1st step) eliminated a number of products right off the bat. Using gyphosate will not do as it is a non- selective weed-killer and kills grasses as well as broadleaf plants. That left only the selective dicot (grasses) herbicides. By looking around, reading labels, and asking professionals for suggestions, we are using a product whose main ingredient is fluazifop which can be sprayed over the top of roses, daylilies, and other plants which are in my yard. Hopefully next year my acreage of Bermudagrass will be smaller and what I planted will be visible. That will be extremely satisfying to Bruce and me!
All in all, I guess I should be happy that my neighbors didn’t plant either “running” bamboo or horsetail reeds!
- Author: Sharon L. Rico
Several years ago, Karen Metz, brought two Bunny Tails plants (Lagurus ovatus) to the Children’s Garden. She thought they would not only be interesting and fun to have at the garden, but something the children would enjoy touching. If you are not familiar with these small, compact grasses, just picture white, fluffy rabbit tails on a stem. Adorable!
In researching the information on this plant, it states it’s an excellent border plant and suggests planting it along walkways so it will tickle your legs as you walk pass. It’s drought tolerant once established. You can also grow Bunny Tails in containers as an accent plant. Blooms are 1 to 2 inches wide and the plant grows one to two feet tall. In the fall, the fluffy white tails turn tan and can be cut to add to dry flower arrangements.
Two years ago, it was suspected that a groundsman sprayed one of our Bunny tails with an herbicide. They do look similar to a weed when they are “tail-less”. Our remedy for the next one we planted was to place a small cage around it with a stake that denoted it was a PLANT and not a WEED. Well, the Bunny Tail grasses are not surviving in the little garden, despite our best efforts. I have decided they are not an easy grass to propagate or grow in an area you cannot keep under constant observation.
- Author: Kathy Low
When it comes to gardening, there is always something new or something more to learn. Luckily there are many opportunities nearby to expand your gardening knowledge. Below is a sample of some upcoming educational opportunities, most of which are free of charge.
August 31, 10:00-11:00
Topic: Composting. This class will be taught by Solano Master Gardeners.
Location: Vallejo People’s Garden (www.vallejopeoplesgarden.org)
Sept. 7, 10:00-3:00
Event: 30th Anniversary Sustainability Fair. For list of presentations see the Contra Costa MG website (http://ccmg.ucdavis.edu/?calitem=191703&g=12498)
Location: Walnut Creek
Sept. 14, 10:00-12:00
Topic: Seed Saving
Location: Loma Vista Farm, Vallejo, CA (www.lomavistafarm.org)
Sept. 14, 10:00-12:00
Topic: Loose Your Lawn and Sheet Mulching http://www.bayfriendlycoalition.org/Calendar.shtml
Location: Solano County Water District, 810 Vaca Valley Parkway, Vacaville
Sept. 17 – 19
Event: Weed Science School
Location: UC Davis Weed Research and Info. Center (www.wric.ucdavis.edu)
Note: a course fee applies
Sept. 22, 10:00-4:00
Event: “Down the Garden Path” Educational Garden Tour
Location: Napa (UC Master Gardeners of Napa County)
Note: There’s a fee of $25 in advance, or $30 on the day of the event.
Oct. 12, 9:00-12:00
FREE Event: Master Gardener Public Plant Exchange (and Gardening Talks)
Location: 501 Texas St., Fairfield
Bring a plant to share if you have one, if you don’t you can still take home a plant.
Come learn about the Master Gardener Program (11:30).
Attend one or more gardening talks.
Free Gardening Sessions scheduled:
10:15 Plant Propagation
11:00 Garden Gift Ideas for the Fall
Pick up a free vegetable planting guide and other gardening information.
Fun for kids too!
- Author: Esther E Blanco
I hate to admit that I am a Master Gardener. People expect me to do everything the right way. You know, to actually follow all those helpful hints you read in books, magazines and garden blogs. Well, don’t tell anyone, but the reality is that I am human. And, I don’t always follow advice - even my own. And yeah, I make mistakes. These next few blogs are the confession of a so-called Master Gardener. Honestly, way too many to contain in a single blog.
I still buy plants on impulse! Just because I like the color of the flowers, without the faintest idea where it will go in my garden, or how to make it grow. And shhhh – I’ve often killed many of those plants. Then there are the plants I can’t seem to get rid of. For example, once I carelessly sprinkled Morning Glory seeds (Ipomoea tricolor) in my backyard. No big deal right? After all they are annuals. They’ll die back in the fall. I had gotten seeds from a friend, who stored them inside an old mason jar. I have always loved Morning Glory because they remind me of my Grandmother in Japan. Her name was Hatsue, but everyone called her Obachan (Grandma). One day, I just carelessly sprinkled all the seeds along the fence. I planned to hang string for the vines to climb upon, once they sprouted. Boy, did I underestimate the tenacity of those itty bitty round seeds.
Year after year, they spout, grow and then manage take over the entire backyard. They will crawl along the ground, climb on the fence, and wrap around bushes and the tree. If I don’t start pulling the sprouts early in spring, my yard will be completely covered by summer. Then as to grandstand the fact they have won, they start to bloom. They seem to mock my every effort to contain them. I do manage to hack them into some kind of submission each year, and then clearing them out in the winter. So here’s a warning to Morning Glory lovers, they can become a highly evasive plant mostly because they reseed themselves. But in the right location, they are very beautiful and provide flowers every morning from early spring until late fall. Every fall, I pull and remove the old vines and sweep up the pods, but I haven’t managed to remove the Morning Glories completely.
But to be honest, I don’t have the heart to completely get rid of the Morning Glory because there is a part of me that loves it when they bloom. Each spring when I see the first tenacious deep purple flowers, it reminds me of Obachan. She was a gentle and quietly stubborn woman, who always managed to get her way - much like these vines. Perhaps Obachan’s sprit has something to do with these flowers coming back year after year. She’s using them to remind me of my Japanese roots and to make sure that I wouldn’t forget her. It appears that the lesson learned from my gardening mistakes don’t necessarily yield only practical knowledge, sometimes they provides lesson for the heart, too.