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re: Bermuda grass

In a message dated 3/18/97 10:35:44 PM, jackrowe@compuserve.com (jack rowe)

>For preparing new beds in Bermuda grass, the cardboard and compost trick
>(scalping grassed areas and covering with overlapped cardboard and compost
>or soil) actually works very well in early spring IF the cardboard is
>well-lapped, wetted before spreading soil (to keep soil from getting
>between the laps), AND if the edges are protected (sheet metal, etc...)
>from new invasion. Some grass will usually survive and need digging...
>waiting too long to dig surviving grass is a mistake, as it reestablishes
>quickly and deeply.<<

REPLY:  It is unnecessary to "scalp" herbaceous vegetation before sheet
mulching.  In my opinion, leaving the grasses uncut, or other weeds, and just
flattening them and mulching over them weakens the plant much more.  I've no
scientific research to back me up, only 30 years experience in sheet

Pigs will eradicate Bermuda grass and covert the solons to pork.  Chickens
eat it and will destroy it eventually if stocked at a rate in excess of 70
birds per acre -- probably more like 100 birds, and left on the area for a
few years.  Deep mulch in the poultry forage helps discourage the grass while
culturing invertebrates that contribute a lot to the nutrition of the birds.
 By developing pie-shaped yards around a poultry house, all weeds can be
eliminated from an area and then it can be planted.  This can be an
agroforestry, of course, birds and trees sort of work together you know, and
you eventually you will have a really productive oasis.  Planting comfrey
about 6 or 8 inches around the perimeter of the exterior fencing will provide
some green forage for the birds and eventually help to form a barrier to
invasion by stolons.  If the bermuda grass gets ahead of the poultry in one
of your pie areas, toss in a few piglets.  It is easy to confine pigs with
poultry netting if you run two lines of electric fence around the inside of
the fence.  The poultry netting slows down the pigs and grouds them rather
nicely while the electric shock provides ample discouragement.  Pigs despise
electric fence and a 10 foot wall of concrete could not be more effective.
 The height of your electric depends, of course on the size of your pigs.
 Use common sense.

One more tip:  geese also like stolons and to a lesser extent, so do ducks.
 If you must plow, and avoid it if you have the discipline, they will go
through and pick out all the stolons, nut grass bulbs, etc.  Chickens can be
added for larger ants and termites, and both ducks and chickens control

Basically, if you can afford the poultry netting, or come up with something
similar such as woven fence with living fenceposts and split bamboo, you can
turn the bermuda grass into an excuse for a very productive little area so
that you can graze the rest.  

Now if someone can tell me how to control bermuda grass when it goes aquatic
it will be a fair swap.  In one pond that we have, it holds its own against
water hyacinth(1) and in our canal is as serious a blockage as willow.  I'm
betting on Asian water buffalo, but as they swim underwater they could be
difficult to confine in places.  any ideas?

For Mother Earth, Dan Hemenway, Yankee Permaculture Publications (since
1982), Elfin Permaculture workshops, lectures, Permaculture Design Courses,
consulting and permaculture designs (since 1981). Next  correspondence
permaculture training by email starts in Aug., '97. Internships available.
Copyright, 1997, Dan & Cynthia Hemenway, P.O. Box 2052, Ocala FL 34478 USA

We don't have time to rush.