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    DOES MY GARDEN HATE ME?

    Date:

    By John Weldon

    Sometimes I think my garden hates me.

    I mow and weed, plant and prune all weekend and then come Monday it looks like a dog’s breakfast again. Weeds bursting through mulch, grass (which won’t grow on the lawn) sprouting like asparagus in the garden beds. The wisteria just seems to lose all sense of perspective, once it senses spring is on the way, and don’t get me started on the nasturtiums. The world will belong to the rats and the cockroaches when we’re all wiped out, come the apocalypse, but only if they can fight their way out of the bloody nasturtiums.

    I don’t want to use chemical weed killers (although I’d love to see what a flamethrower could do to the kikuyu that grows through the cracks in the paving) but I’m sick of hoeing and pulling and never getting everything out. I can kill a lemon tree by just looking at it – I know, I’ve done it with several over the years – but when it comes to weeds I am powerless. Onion grass laughs at me, Oxalis would kick sand in my face if it could and bindis have been flushing my head down the dunny and pinching my lunch money for years now.

    This year it stops.

    I’ve done me some research and I’ve decided: If you can’t beat ‘em, smother ‘em. (I realise this is all sounding very violent. Apologies if anyone is offended, but gardening is not for the faint hearted.)

    Apparently, weeding can be a self-defeating exercise (now they tell me!). By pulling and digging out weeds I’m just tilling the soil for the next stray dandelion seed that wafts into my yard.

    The trick, so they say, is to cover the soil completely with a thick layer of something that keeps all light out. Mulch alone is no good as it lets too much light and air in. Carpet is good, weed matting too, but I don’t like to use synthetics, so I’m going with cardboard instead.

    I saved my friendly neighbourhood cafe owner, Iain from the Corner Shop in Yarraville, a trip to the recycling depot, and stuffed all his waste cardboard into my car. Check your local businesses, if you decide to give this a go, I’m sure they’d be glad to fill your boot too. Just watch out for waxed cardboard – it is stiff and inflexible and it doesn’t absorb water.

    Here’s the plan. I’ll lay down three layers of cardboard right on top of the weeds. I’ll water each layer, before laying the next, making it pliable so it softens to the contours of the garden beds, and I’ll make sure each layer overlaps and covers any gaps in the one below.

    In an ideal world, I would leave the ground covered and undisturbed for six 6 months. Unfortunately, I have plants in those beds so I’ll have to cut the cardboard around them as close as I can. I’ll top it off with a thick layer of mulch, once the cardboard is bedded in, so it looks a bit nice. You can use a similar method to create weed-free paths between vegetable and garden beds.

    And that will entirely solve my oxalis problem and the nasturtium issue, and the thing with the onion grass. . .yeah right. I’ll still need to keep an eye out for bindis though. Maybe I should bring a packed lunch and a towel.

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