Isn’t it funny when you angst over a problem in your head for weeks or even months, building the problem up to be this insurmountable giant… and then when you decide to just jump in, the answer presents itself almost immediately? It’s like pushing hard against a door and finding it open.
Last fall I asked for advice on the previous homeowner’s bermuda grass-infested raised bed. I tried to sheetmulch the bed last summer and the grass was not only undaunted by my attempts, it subsumed the cardboard in a matter of weeks. Unable to commit to using glyphosate and completely daunted by the idea of digging it out, I just laid thick outdoor carpet over the whole thing and left it alone for the winter.
So a few weeks ago we pulled back the carpet to see what was happening. The carpet trick had worked on the less-grass-infested of the two annual beds, the one on the left. We easily dug out the rest of the grass, filled that bed with fresh compost and planted tomatillos and ashwaganda last weekend. On the right bed the bermuda grass was not much affected. It was yellowed but still growing. I had to do something though, the seedlings were ready to plant out and this is where they were supposed to go. So I pulled the wood frame up and out of the way, cut laboriously all the way around one corner with a sharp spade and yanked… and the whole corner came out of the ground! The grass was rooted through some thin felt-type weed cloth, but once I cut the weed cloth and got a good hold of a corner, it all just lifted right up out of the sand like a mat. I just stood there gaping for several minutes, then ran into the house, hollering for my husband.
Thankfully his additional weight on that sharp spade cut through the grass, roots, and weed cloth like butter. (Well okay, maybe not “butter”, but easier than me balancing on the spade and jumping up and down) He cut the grass into sections in less than 10 minutes. Then I loaded the sections, which were each a foot thick mat of grass, roots, sand, and weed cloth, onto my trusty red wheelbarrow and carted them across the street to my growing weedy compost pile. I cleared the grass, dug out the remaining roots, and raked it all smooth in less than 30 minutes.
After that I laid down a thick layer of newspapers and shredded office paper and wetted it all down. The sky clouded up briefly, as you can see.
Then I filled the whole bed to the top with compost.
And then I planted! Everona tomatillos, Rose Bianca eggplants, and a few cantaloupe seedlings in the back corners. I’m hoping the cantaloupes will sprawl out of the bed and across the grass to the fence.
Now it’s all mulched with straw and we had a good rain today. I’m especially proud of those seedlings, these are the first I’ve ever started from seeds. I’ve simply moved the piece of carpet over to lay on the spot next to this bed for the summer. Hopefully this will kill back the grass underneath and I’ll add a new raised bed there in the fall. This took about two hours, start to finish. I am so thrilled this is done!