The Nut Sedge War

The front bed where we spent so many hours carefully digging out all of the grass, Florida Betony tubers, shredded plastic landscape fabric, and old azalea roots?

All those sprouts that look like grass? That’s all nut sedge, one of this area’s worst weeds. If I had a lawn and they were mixed in with grass I would not care, but this looks terrible.

So I took the next logical step: posting a plea for advice on the Grow Gainesville facebook group. This gardening group is an unending font of wisdom. So far there’s 28 comments and still going. Nut sedge is a problem for just about everybody and there are many ways to control it. I read all of the comments and decided to attack it in multiple ways: physically removing as much as possible, then planting a fast cover crop to shade out any remaining weeds and deeply mulching. This bed will eventually be densely planted with flowering bushes, irises, and lilies, but I can’t buy all of the bushes and plant them before the nut sedge and betony take over.

So Friday morning I got up early and started in with a trowel and a bucket.

Once I started digging, the “nuts” were easy to recognize. The roots are fine but strong, with “nuts” strung along the roots like beads on a string. The root nodes are covered in fine, wiry hair-like tangles. They stand out from the fine sandy soil and are easy to spot. The betony roots were also everywhere, one every few square inches. I cleared a 6’x6′ patch and filled a large paint bucket with every single root, tuber, and seedling I could find in a little more then 2 hours.

Sunday morning I woke to a soft drizzle and decided to work anyway before the bulk of the tropical storm hit. I cleared another 4′ before the rain really started coming down- about half the length of the bed.  I planted 1 packet of “Jackson Wonder” butterbeans and covered it all with straw. This 3 solid days of rain should give the beans a good head start, even though I didn’t inoculate them.

The rain really set the planting schedule back, but this is me, not complaining. This is exactly the kind of storm we need- not much wind and lots of steady rain. I don’t know if I’ll be able to get the rest done before we leave for Texas but if not I’ll probably put down black plastic weighed down with rocks to keep the weeds somewhat suppressed. Otherwise the betony will be 2 feet tall by the time we get back.

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