So, please be gentle. I'm fairly new to permaculture. My learning so far has come through Paul's podcast and a few others.
We are developing five acres in NW Florida. I am currently looking at opening up a new section which is about a quarter-acre. The problem is that before planting we have something called Cogon grass. If you have never run across Cogon grass its a very invasive grass that is native to somewhere in Asia. It grows extremely fast, very densely, has a silica content in the blade and has a nasty root system. It actually propagates through rizomes. It's extremely difficult to get rid of.
Standard methodology for eradication is through RoundUp or one other pesticide. Obviously something I don't want to do. I can burn it, then till it under (several times) and then deal with what comes up. Not excited about that either.
So...what are your thoughts on getting rid of it? My understanding of the permaculture principles is that we should try and replace it, crowd it out. Fair enough. My thoughts are to do something to get rid of it initally (burining or tilling). I don't have much choice in this. It grows so thickly if I were to plant anything else it would have no chance of growing. However, if I get it cut back I could probably get something like buckwheat to grow up before the Cogon grass grows back and crowd it out. Grow a crop of buckwheat once or twice until it gets cool in October. Then do a cover crop of some type ofthings that would break up the soil. Radishes, turnips etcs.
I figure I might have something to work with by next spring. Right now you can take a sharp bladed shovel where its been cut back and punch it down into the soil and just pull up a mass of roots. Each one is just another strand of Cogon that will end up coming up.
What I am doing in the back area were we are doing another garden area is heavily mulching with pine bark where the grass is trying to encroach on the garden area. It is semi-successful. It probably would have worked completely if I had put down a layer of newspaper under the mulch. The problem with mulch is that it doesn't do anything about the roots under the ground so I don't think it will really work in the new section I was describing.
Is it an isolated population of the weed or will there always be new seed moving in from surrounding areas? As much as I don't like using herbicide, here's my advice: Dont bother useing round-up if it is just going to reinvade from surrounding areas. The only reason to use herbicide would be if other control methods are unrealistic and to get it to the point where you can manage it manually or eliminate it altogether from your area. You could try solarization too but that has it's own problems on soil life. Which is the lesser of two evils? I read only one pdf that mentioned solarization working. Good luck. Anybody else have other ideas? Maybe tilling would manage it just fine...
While its not likely to just re-invade if I do eradicate it from the property, I really don't want to be using Roundup. For now I am laying out a 2- 3 inch layer of hay mulch over it to try and and keep it down and improve the soil fertility at the same time (at least a little bit). I think I am going to pick up a mattock and see if I can dig the roots up enough that I can control it that way. Its a small enough area that over the course of a week or two I can work it over an hour at a time. I suspect between the hay and the digging up of the roots it might be enough if I am thorough enough.
how is your battle with cogon grass going?
i am battling the same species with different non chemical methods and i think with some success, although a lot of work goes into it.
in some areas i have tropical kudzu which is out-shading large cogon grass invaded areas. since the only crop in that corner of the land is some fruittrees and big rose myrtle bushes out-shading is not much of a problem. if kudzu goes into the trees i come with my scissors and feed the mulch bed under the trees i don't mind if the rose myrtle does get overgrown since i need to cut it back for regrowth sometimes soon anyway. out-shading works pretty well!
in other areas i ripped the grass out by hand; painful, even with gloves. i think now i would just cut it down with scissors or if i don't care about other plants growing inbetween just mowe it down. then used the grass itself to mulch that area heavily and stuck cassava sticks in between which is growing nicely now, and trying to establish soy bean and butterfly pea there as well. every now and then i remove single new grass coming through the grass mulch by hand.
and then there are "lawn" areas where i just ripped it all out by hand and keep doing so when it comes up again so other grasses and clovers have a chance to grow first. basically i am starving the grass by not allowing it to get much sunlight.
it gave me huge compost piles lol! thanks to the peepee method it composts in a decent fashion.
i realized the extreme roots it forms are not bad at all, loosening the soil and adding some sort of plant matter even to a decent depth to it. so after/while starving the grass away halfway succesfully i think i can commence with no tilling cultivation pretty well.
today i went with scissors through the garden cleaning cogongrass from areas that are only 50% cogongrass 50% other weeds anymore
heavy tilling is in my oppinion not a great option since it doesn't need much for this grass to grow back anyway.
cultivating it away is what i would do.
10 Podcast Review of the book Just Enough by Azby Brown