Monday, September 29, 2008


ARGGHHHHH! The bermuda is sprouting again! It’s been SIX weeks since I last sprayed and subsequently tilled up the grass, scrapped off the top 3 inches of soil and grass – AND IT IS GROWING BACK!

I have been watering the dirt to keep down the dust and because one of the border gardens is on the same valve. The sprinkler heads are in the same location they were when there was grass. That’s OK as the cover crop will need watering.

But the grass is coming back ALREADY! It is a little different this time. They must be sprouting from seed, because when I pull them up they are not deeply rooted or attached to the stolen. They have fine hair-like roots. And there are probably two dozen blades of grass, a small enough amount I can easily pluck them out of the ground.

But the gall of that grass to even think about growing back – SO SOON! The purslane and spurge are also growing pretty wild. But I think that is all because the dirt was just perfect for seed germinating – it was clear – nothing to get in the way of the seed from making contact with the soil, settling in, and getting a nice shower ever few days. The weather is still HOT – over 100 degrees, perfect for bermuda grass! And it is ALL sun!! No shade – yet.

I am glad I have taken the time to think about what I want to do next. I am in the Permaculture Design Course (32 of 72 hours under my belt or my butt since we sit a lot) and we just had a session on rain water harvesting in the soil using a concept called Earthworks. It is the use of grading, building berms and swales to route and hold the water so it can soak in instead of running off the lot. Much more complex than that but I think you get the picture.

I was going to plant my cover crop in a few weeks, but after consulting with a few ‘permies’ (Permaculturists), I decided to get the yard graded and the Earthworks in prior to doing all of my soil remediation.

Once I have the soil amendments and microorganisms in the soil, I do not want to disturb their environment least I kill them off! Essentially that means not tilling or turn the soil over and moving it around with a shovel AFTER the cover crop has grown and been removed.

So we will be creating the Earthworks mid-October and maybe getting the seeds in – we’ll see. The more help I have doing this, the quicker I can get the seed in. I still have time on the planting calendar, so it is all good.

If you want to be part of creating the rain water harvesting Earthworks, please let me know and I will fill you in on the details!

Happy Digging,

Doreen Pollack aka THE Garden Goddess

Monday, September 8, 2008

One Step Closer to Planting

This is sure taking longer than I thought! With the heat and the amount of physical labor involved I find I am limited by what I can do and what I can pay to have done. That being said, I am learning to ask people to help, whether I pay them or not, I am asking people I know, like my neighbors, to help me with the steps I cannot do myself. I suppose this is also part of the community building that goes along with such a bog project. I am just glad my first one of this scale is at my own home!

AND I am excited to announce the dead bermuda has been tilled and raked from the front yard. Eloy, who I met through our neighborhood community garden, had this great tractor/tiller. He lives so close he drove it over to my house and drove it over the lawn to till up the dead bermuda down to about 4-5 inches deep. Then he and another guy raked up the loosened grass and leveled the yard for me.

I had them take off some of the top soil as well, but the soil that was tilled up looks pretty good. I want to lower the garden beds from the driveway and sidewalk to keep the water on my lot. It ran off when I watered the grass so I knew it was high. Plus this will give me some room for amendments.

During the heavy rains this summer I took time to OBSERVE the water flow and puddling in my yard. I have a lot of water that runs off the roof, directed by 2 peaks on either side of the front porch cover, which is just an old aluminum roof. The dirt has eroded pretty deep. I can see the underside on the concrete footings of the porch. So I will build that up with some of the concrete debris I have from removing the brick path and use earthworks for the water to be diverted into the center of the yard where a future tree will be planted. This may not get done before planting.

Soil is heavy. It took two trips to the dump with my neighbor Kevin’s truck. What a great guy he is, he hired a few workers to shovel it all off my driveway and into his truck. They did a great job sweeping up afterwards as well.

And ALL of this happened when I was not at home! (I did get a chance to take a few pictures for my blog.) The only casualties were a few sprinkler heads, But now they I can get to them so easily with all the grass growing up into them, I was able to replace the broken heads myself.

I still have more to do before I plant my cover crop. I will order the compost tea through my friend Jennifer, buy the mustard green seeds (Don said Whole Foods has them in the sprouting section) and I still have some digging out of bermuda around the existing planter beds.

I will also do a jar test of the spoil to see how much clay, loam, silt and sand I have so I know how to amend it. That may mean a load of compost from Ken Singh.

I am targeting the weekend of September 20 & 21 to get the seeds in and tea sprayed. Anyone want to join me and learn how while I do, you are welcome. Just give me a call!

Doreen Pollack


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