Monthly Archives: June 2008

Battling Bermuda


Whoever thought of importing Bermuda Grass as a warm weather turf grass in the Southern United States was an idiot. This grass is the bane of all gardeners in the South. It’s got tenacious roots with underground runners, and if that wasn’t bad enough, it’s got long, rooted runners above ground as well. Unless your soil is really loose, not commonly found in Oklahoma, all the segments will break apart when you’re trying to yank this stuff out, and each will create a new plant. Horrible to control. So when you’re trying to build a new organic garden, you only have two choices either dig it all up, and hope you get every last rootlet, or kill it.

One way to kill it is daily tilling during the hottest part of the summer, but you have to hope that you get no rain or else the exposed roots can recover. I don’t have a tiller, so I opted for another method called solarizing. You simply dig a trench around the area of the new bed, in my case a four by twenty garden, and cover it with thick clear plastic. (I know the plastic looks white. It had rained the day before I installed the plastic so that’s condensation.) Tuck the plastic edges into the trenches, and hold the plastic tight to the ground by backfilling the trenches. Then you let it sit through the hottest part of the summer, and cold winter, until next spring when all the dead organic matter can be amended and turned into the soil. The only drawback is that this method kills everything, including beneficial soil bacteria. They can be reestablished by amending the soil in the spring with good fresh compost.

It wasn’t until I finished the installation that I realized I had created the bed up a slope. Oh well, it’ll give me more microhabitats in which to plant a variety of vegetables. Of course I started this new bed in the hopes that the electric fencing will keep the deer out. Time will tell. If the deer still visit the yard after the electric fence is installed I’ll just have to plant the bed with deer resistant plants: garlic and onions.

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Holey Moley!

I came across this scar in the front yard, after I had finished the fence. I thought it might be an armadillo or skunk searching for grubs, but with the area fenced off, neither creature would have easy access . D’Argo solved the mystery of the holes today…

…by digging up a mole. I always know when D’Argo has found something by the way he’s behaving and sure enough I found this little fellow trying to bury himself back underground. This is an Eastern Mole. A new mammal for Windhaven. Notice the big spade shaped feet turned sideways, perfectly adapted for digging.

Unfortunately the mole was wounded during it’s unearthing and died a short time later. D’Argo is definitely a terrier.

Mystery in mud

I reported on this mud wasp nest last summer. At the time, I wondered how the new wasps emerged from the nest. Now I have my answer. They chew their way out of each individual cell. It looks like a long mud flute. Apparently, the wasps return and build onto last year’s base as well.

Saving energy!

We’ve just recently had an electricity monitor installed in our electrical box. It’s a wonderful little monitor, called a TED. Hopefully Peter will tell you more soon about what it can do. In the meantime, I’ve been enjoying figuring out how much energy we’ve been saving now that the TED can tell me how much energy our oven uses.

I’ve talked about my Sunoven before. I use it more often in the summer when full sun is more consistent, but it can certainly be used in winter on clear days as well. It’s a wonderful moist heat as you can see by the condensation on the glass. You can’t burn anything in a solar oven.

I spent an afternoon, baking up a storm, making muffins (cranberry banana) and energy bars. Baking time in the oven would have been one hour using somewhere between one and five kWh, depending on the heating element cycling, there would also be additional energy used to cool the house by a degree or so, from the heat added to the air, another 1.5 kWh for a few minutes. Instead, I used no watts, even though baking time was twice as long. I love that!