Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Nut grass has balls

Admit it, you admire the will to live that nut grass demonstrates. This one takes its job as a pernicious weed seriously by growing up out of 3” of gravel. Underneath that is a layer of filter fabric, and under that, soil which was scraped and pounded level and compact, and was pretty poor to begin with. Some of its nut grass companions are also hooking a couple hard turns to grow up from under the flagstones.

I pull them up, but their tubers stay under the filter fabric and send up new shoots. Sometimes the nodules do pull up out of the flower beds, and I stop to nick one with a fingernail and smell it. Did you ever notice what a delicious rootbeer scent a nut grass nut has?

You may not believe it from the unappetizing photo here, but finding a recipe for nut grass was on my garden geek to-do list. Somehow I associated it with the drink horchata so recently, I checked that. The internet provided a selection of informative and conflicting facts or factoids about nut grass (actually a sedge, not grass) which I’ll summarize:

The delicious nut grass tubers come from yellow nut sedge or chufa / Cyperus esculentis. The ones I have growing are different--purple nut sedge / Cyperus rotunda, described as ‘bitter’. I’m a little disappointed. I thought I might cool off some day after weeding with a glass of home made horchata. However, the aromatic oil is extracted for ayurvedic medicine (alas, not one of my projects) and the nuts are eaten in Africa as a last resort famine food.

So famine is one method of controlling nut grass. Times are not that bad at my house, thanks. A 20% vinegar solution sprayed down into the gap where the stalk was just pulled will get results too. But it will be on the second round, because nut grass is pretty determined to survive that, as well.


compost in my shoe said...

i have found the plant to migrate to organic mulches, so that over time they can be pulled out much easier in these mulches than in the soil, leaving less nuts behind. Never gets rid of the problem but certainly helps over time....

islandgal246 said...

You have that too? I HATE that grass! I also wondered if it was edible cause they do have a very earthy smell. If they were edible I like you thought that would take care of them. But it will be around for a long time. Round up takes care of them if you don't mind using it. Other than that, I use a long grass tool to remove it. What a pain in the backside!

dee ann said...

My family had a large acreage in northeast houston when I was growing up. My parents were given an acre when they married and proceeded to have gardens. My father has told a familiar story that he never had nut grass until one of my mom's uncle borrowed a tractor from his brother who lived in north texas. Supposedly that tractor carried this horrible grass to the south and now we are stuck with it.