[permaculture] Crabgrass, Bermuda grass, etc.

Dieter Brand diebrand at yahoo.com
Mon Jun 18 19:18:38 EDT 2007

  Before making unfounded allegations about a situation which you 
  do not know, it may not be a mistake to have a look at the facts 
  as I described them in the first messages of this thread (see below), 
  where I briefly outlined the probable causes for the crabgrass and 
  my preferred strategies for dealing with the situation, i.e., not 
  removing the crabgrass. I did not really expect to get an answer 
  along those lines; however, as a courtesy to those who replied 
  (I know you don’t consider this to be necessary) I offered my 
  thanks and resumed the different methods proposed. Your 
  message to one of these replies was quite besides the point 
  and seems to be dictated by your preconceptions rather than 
  by any regard for the facts.
  Whenever I dig out some of this grass from my vegetable garden I’m
  astonished by the quality of the soil which seems to be far superior in
  places with crab grass than in places without. I always regret having 
  to disturb the soil and thereby destroying its structure in addition to 
  removing the organic matter of the grass itself.
  Hence I wonder, is there any way of controlling crab grass, for example
  by crowding out or by means of allelophatic properties? Or better still,
  are there any crops that can compete with crab grass during the
  summer, which would allow me to leave the grass in the soil?
  MY 2ND MESSAGE (Reply to Tom):
  In my case, crabgrass has spread to most of the fields ploughed by the 
  previous owner, while the surrounding hillsides, which are free of crabgrass,
  are covered by perennial native plants. It is clear that years of ploughing
  has compacted the soil and reduced soil organic matter, which is most
  likely the cause for the crabgrass. Hence, I have converted to no-till and
  return most of the organic matter to the soil as a mulch layer, so as to 
  improve the soil biology over the long term. I will, however, give the idea
  with the calcium a try and see what happens. I didn’t quite understand 
  the thing with the mould though. Why does it favour crabgrass and not other
  plants? Does the book give an explanation?
  PS: In the coastal areas of Portugal rain comes from the ocean, and if 
  the millions of hectares of woodland around here produce rain, your are 
  more likely to benefit than we are, which isn’t really faire is it? You 
  already got more than we do. We really ought to get "rain credits".
  By the way, I’m still subscribed to the Fukuoka farming group. If you 
  want to discuss our different understanding of Natural Farming, I’m
  always willing to engage in “reasoned” argument. I think it is not
  appropriate to carry over any dispute from another list to this group,
  where members are not aware of the history and may not even want
  to know.
  In Friendship,
  Dieter Brand
Jamie Nicol <souscayrous at gmail.com> wrote:
  Warning: This answer is deliberately inflammatory!

Dear Dieter, why does nature offer you so many problems?

There is no single technique to destroy a single plant because no plant
grows alone - it is the result of a relational context of which we can only
have the dimmest of notions.

Crab grass is the result of cleared vegetation (perhaps due to your efforts
to clear your land for fear of wildfire?). Broadscale, bare field
agriculture (whether no-till or not) is the necessary condition for
desertification in droughty areas (Savory's 'brittle landscapes'). Crab
grass (and the madrinho you have cut down) is simply the momentary, natural
progression toward revegetation.

Crab grass is just the result of human action.

Cease swimming against the flow of revegetation. Learn how to move with the
flow, subtly effecting the changes toward your desired landscape. Allow
everything to grow and continue to expand the possible plant diversity by
continuing to cast seeds and seedballs.

Food does not grow from out of a growing medium but from soil and soil does
not exist where there is not a diverse array of plants filling every niche.
You know this, we all know this! So why do we continue to focus exclusively
upon a 'weed' or a particular crop...

List of seeds to cast: ground cover - luzerne (alfalfa), black medic, white
clover and never remove native leguminous plants; vegetables - all kinds of
beets and radishes, asparagus, miner's lettuce, parsley, white mustard,
chicory, coriander (cilantro), borage, cardoon, artichoke, Jerusalem
artichoke (sunchoke), calendula, sunflowers, rocket (rucola), phacelia,
tomato, aubergine, lentils, chick peas, peas, soya, cereals - maize, millet,
amaranth, tef, wheat, barley, wild oats (always reliable!), trees - black
and silver wattle (Acacia spp), apricot, peach, nectarine, pomegranate,
jujube, pistacchio, almond, black locust, honey locust, carob, wild cherry,
feijoa, fig, loquat, black mulberry, persimmon, tagasaste, holm and cork

If you do not have the time to move with the flow of nature then you can
plough, spray, smother...conventional and organic farming do get their
returns and so will you, unfortunately this includes desertification.

Rain does not fall from the sky but grows up from the ground.


PS Read Meister Eckhart on 'gelassenheit': leben ohne warum.

On 6/18/07, Dieter Brand wrote:
> Paul,
> Plantain will grow pretty much anywhere. If anything, my fields with
> crabgrass have worse drainage than other places.
> Regarding the rye, I have bad news. The crabgrass already shows
> through the patches where I had rye in the winter. The rye does of
> course display allelophatic properties towards weeds; however, the
> allelophatic function weakens after you cut the rye, even if you leave
> the straw as mulch. This makes the rye option useless for me since
> I don't have enough humidity to grow rye in the summer.
> I will try seeding the plantain into the crabgrass invested fields.
> Dieter Brand
> Portugal
> Paul Cereghino 
wrote: I associate plantain
> with poor winter drainage. Perhaps that is what the
> crabgrass can't take. I recall from unknown sources that winter rye is
> allelopathic, and so makes a good smother crop -- so confirmation
> through hearsay.
> Paul Cereghino
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