Older Gardeners

palmetto_gardener(6b)August 7, 2010

Just read "Gardening for a Lifetime" by Sydney Eddison. A nice read and several ideas for cutting the workload as we age. Since I just started my garden at 70, (this year) I wish I had read this book before. One of her points is to concentrate on shade rather than sun perennials. She makes a point that weeds are sun plants and weeds in the shade are puny and can be discouraged with mulch. I've worked this summer to establish a sun bed (that's a long story) and now I think I'll just concentrate on shade--I have plenty in my yard. For MTPS I'll be looking for shade plants.

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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

I think I would have to disagree with Sydney about shade weeds being puny. 2" diameter poison ivy vines growing 40' or more up into a tree is not my definition of puny. Huge fast growing mats of wintercreeper euonymus is about as tough to get rid of as ANY full sun weed I can think of (maybe harder). Multiflora rose and wild blackberry aren't puny. A good sized wild grape will often regrow even when hit hard with glyphosate or triclopyr. Sydney needs to get her hands dirty in my woods before writing another book.

What other ideas does she give? I'm all for reducing work load (especially for future years), but I just don't know about that shade idea.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 11:35PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Did she happen to have any good ideas about borders? I think that is one of the key areas where weed problems creep in, and I have yet to find a really good solution (that's both anywhere near reasonably economical and reliable). I know raised bed help (and they can make weeding much much easier because you don't have to bend down), but they tend to be either quite expensive (landscape block or stone), not long lasting (railroad ties, treated lumber), or require access to materials that not everyone has (bunches of large rocks, etc).

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 11:45PM
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I neglected to mention that she gardens in the Northeast. I wonder if plants/weeds take over there as they do here in the South. Her solution for sun beds was to use more shrubs and fewer perennials. I have no trouble with that. What I do have trouble with is Johnson grass. In trying to establish a sun bed, I had my helper Roundup the area, then till it. What had been 3 stalks of Johnson grass are now uncountable and I'm thinking of paving that area. :)
Back to Sydney, she also had things to say about containers, miniature gardens, bonsai and other things a little friendlier to the back than most gardening. This is not a reference book, more a personal narrative.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 11:50PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

If you want to try the RoundUp again, try the type that takes a little longer (not the results in 12 or 24 hours variety). Those other ingredients that speed results actually make the glyposate in RoundUp less effective (but seems to appeal the average homeowner because of speed). Also mix it a little stronger than recommended and let the the Johnson grass grow a little before spraying. Many herbicides are more effective on mature plants. Glyphosate (the primary ingredient in RoundUp) will kill Johnson grass effectively, but may take more than one applications depending on a variety of factors (concentration, temperature, size of plants, time of day, etc, etc). BTW, if you need a lot of herbicide, or can find it in smaller quantities, generic glyphosate is MUCH cheaper than RoundUp and is not burdened by the less effective junk that's in many of the RoundUp products.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 1:32AM
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Brandon--I don't see much in the book about keeping weeds out of borders. Her simplifying borders was to quit "edging" them and handweed and string trim.
Thanks for the information on RoundUp. With that in mind I think I'll wait until the plants are not so stressed, move those still surviving to another place and RoundUp the whole bed using your suggestions. And yes, I'll buy generic. Thankfully, one of our Co-op employees passed that on to me. I seem to have bumper crops of poison ivy this year.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 11:53PM
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You might want to consider "no till" becoz when you till they say all the years of johsonsgrass seed is brought up to the surface and sprout. Just spray with the herbicide, wait til it dies and I would recommend a flat shovel to remove the dead weeds. You can compost them. I also have had much success with using the glyphosate and when the weeds die, dig holes to plant and "mulch" with wet newspapers and compost or other mulch.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 9:55PM
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Thanks, Louisianagal. I'm a fan of wet newspapers + mulch and I'll try just digging hole for plant.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 10:08PM
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Will the glyphosate also take care of bermuda grass?
I've had some health problems that have kept me inside this year - particularly with this heat we've been having and the bermuda has taken over my beautiful rock garden.
I've tried Ornamec in the past, but that didn't seem to be too effective.
I'm considering that concrete idea in the previous post.....

    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 6:30PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

The biggest way that tilling spreads Johnsongrass is by breaking apart the rhizomes into hundreds of small plants. If you pull up Johnsongrass in a recently tilled garden, it will usually be connected to a short, fat piece of root left over from tilling. I'd think, if anything, tilling would bury more seeds than it would expose.

Glyphosate will kill Bermuda grass. If you use a decent percentage mix (like recommended for brush), it usually takes care of it completely in a single pass. Occasionally a followup may be needed for stragglers.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2010 at 12:14AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

One thing that makes Bermuda grass so hard to get rid of is that it can invest a surprising amount of resources into root production. Sometimes a small amount of top-growth can have a huge mass of rhizome underground or under rocks, mulch, or other plants. Bermuda grass between rocks (like in a garden border) or in a flowerbed (with mulch or other plants for it to hide under) can be pretty stubborn. I think of all the plants out there, Bermuda grass is the one I hate the most (yes, even worse than poison ivy).

    Bookmark   August 12, 2010 at 12:22AM
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Is the glyphosate a systemic killer? I'm thinking if it's the ingredient of Roundup - would be contact. am just concerned about the stuff I don't want to kill.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2010 at 4:20PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Yes, it's systemic.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2010 at 11:45PM
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I hate bermuda too but I must admit the side of my yard connected to my next-door-neighbor's totally bermuda yard looks great this summer and my fescue (that takes a ton of water, reseeding, fertilizer) looks like crap! It has been too hot and dry here in Mid Tn for my beautiful creeping fescue, even tho my yard is shady. If the stuff wasn't so invasive, I think I'd let Bermuda grow on the other side too.

Here is a link that might be useful: gardening for small spaces

    Bookmark   August 16, 2010 at 11:57AM
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Mona gave me a wonderful bit of advice regarding "older gardeners" that is priceless. Start moving towards flowering shrubs, vines and trees. Weeds become a pest of the past!

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 7:33PM
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