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Ligaya gardening tips #2 Make friends with annual grasses

We often get asked for gardening tips, so have decided to do a weekly post describing things we do to keep our garden going well with bugger all effort.

Here’s this week’s…

One type of annual grass that pops up around here, destined for the chooks!
One type of annual grass that pops up around here, destined for the chooks!

Annual grasses are our friends for many reasons.

They attract birds and insects to the garden and self sow so you don’t need as much effort to grow them. They’re shallow rooted, so are easy to pull up. Also, having them there crowds out other, less useful and invasive plants. When they’re finished you can compost them, pull them up and drop them as mulch or feed them to rabbits, guinea pigs or chooks.

One thing I do at the beginning of every spring is to buy a kilo or so of Canary seed mix from the fodder store, soak it in water for a couple of hours and then throw it around the garden. The soaking helps them germinate faster and theoretically, beat the seed eaters who don’t go for the green growth. That’s only a working theory in development but it seems to work!

Most of the seeds in these mixes are grasses and some have quite beautiful seed heads when mature. I have to replace them every year because not enough of them self sow enough to beat the next season’s birds but a few do make it. They attract small birds and some insects and take the focus off of our other plants.

Another annual grass
Another annual grass

The best part is that you don’t even need to know their names, just learn to identify them for what they are and distinguish them from more insidious, perennial invaders such as Couch and Kikuyu.

It amazes me that Those perennial nasties are still sold by garden centres landscapers for lawns. They grow steadily underground and can pop up metres from where you last saw them. We’ve found Kikuyu rhizomes 3 metres long and punching through double layers of thick, builders plastic. They’re the bane of most folks who garden and don’t have lawns, creeping through from neighbouring blocks or from the verge.

These grasses do have their uses in nature or, perhaps on larger blocks Their purpose seems to be to bind soil together until trees get established. We have to confess to leaving one patch of Kikuyu in the garden. It’s right next to Athena’s favourite sitting place (her throne, we call it) and she is partial to a nibble. Gotta keep everyone happy!

Evil, evil Kikuyu
Evil, evil, evil Kikuyu creeping trough under a bed.

If you find too many annual grasses popping up for your taste, pull them up or pour boiling water directly onto them at their base or crown. They’ll turn yellow and disappear in a couple of days.

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