A Little Off the Top Barber!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Bird Herb Garden
Ah September! A change of seasons! A change of garden plans. Time to think about putting the summer garden to bed -- and perhaps start thinking about the offerings you want in the Fall Garden? Farmer Fred Hoffman has some pretty good ideas here -- and Angela Pratt's Vegetable Planting Calendar is just loaded with great ideas.

As for us? September is a time to "assess" and start cutting back on summer's rather explosive gardening growth -- as evidenced by the photo located above and to your right. That's what the Bird Herb Garden looks like after the wife that is Venus has given it a rather extensive "haircut."

More than a little off the top I'd say.

Field Bindweed (BLECH!)
Venus got to the "Big Whack Job" a little early this year for a couple of very good reasons. First and foremost? An invasive little weed -- known as Field Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) -- is popping up just about everywhere in North Natomas. It was here long before our new Cookie Cutter subdivision rose from the clay dirt riverbottom -- and will probably outlive the cockroach.

Quite simply -- it's everywhere. It's also getting into some of the raised gardening beds -- which causes quite the problem. It's nearly impossible to kill unless you drown it in a vat of Roundup -- which we're not going put anywhere close to our little herb garden. It's also impossible to pull it out as the root systems are extensive -- extending to a depth of 20-to-30 feet.

I ran across some of these root systems while I was digging post holes last February for our little Table Grape Trellis. There -- at the bottom of that two foot hole -- was a unmistakable bright white sign of a bindweed root system.

There really is no way that I know of to completely eradicate bindweed -- so the next best option is to control it and attack it before it has chance to get started and then flourish. Despite bunching our herb plants tightly together -- bindweed managed to come up in the middle of our Lemon Thyme -- and since the leaf structures are somewhat similar in shape, size and color -- attacking it wasn't easy.

Thus -- the whack job. Venus was able to cut back the herbs enough to start removing every last trace of bindweed -- digging two to three feet down in some cases to dig out as much of the root system as possible. Did she get all of it? Probably not. You never do. But you can knock it down and knock it back to the point where it won't be a problem.

Herbs Headed for Compost Pile
I must admit -- it was a sad sign to see all of these fresh herbs hit the compost pile -- but it's a job that had to be done. While we are taking steps to dry some of them in the GarageMahal -- bindweed had become so intertwined in a lot of it that it couldn't be saved. Therefore -- into the Green Waste can it went.

Despite my pledge to live organically as possible -- the weedkiller RoundUp will come into play. We won't use it in the beds of course -- but left uncontrolled -- bindweed will surface everywhere -- and yes that includes a four-to-five inch layer of mulch. While it's true that mulch is great weed control -- bindweed overcomes.

Vietnamese Corriander (Rau Rum)
Cutting back the herb garden also gave Venus a chance to plant some new entries into the always growing herb garden -- including some starter plants that we purchased from Morningsun Herb Farm at the Harvest Festival held earlier this summer at the Fair Oaks Community Garden. The new entries include Rau Ram -- also known as Vietnamese Corriander. It is described as having a lemon and coriander-cilantro aroma -- and is supposed to serve as a replacement for cilantro after it wilts in our famous Sacramento Valley heat.

We'll see about that. Time will tell.

San Francisco Chronicle Food & Wine Section
Of course -- while Venus and I had the best of intentions in preparing our herb garden for the upcoming fall and winter season (it will grow back -- trust me) -- we always seem to choose the EXACT wrong time to accomplish these tasks. Case in point? The Food and Wine section of the San Francisco Chronicle -- which arrived this week at our North Natomas home -- with the title "Herbal Heaven."

To put it short and sweet? The accompanying article described all the wonderful fresh herbs that can be used in fresh drink concoctions. These carry wonderful names like "Old Thyme Collins" and "Green and White Tarragon Collins" that can be mixed with only the finest gin that comes in a plastic bottle (our favorite).

Yes -- we cut back the herb garden just in time to miss out on all those fresh and fruity drinks. Excuse me for a moment. I feel a Homer Simpson moment coming on.

There -- that feels better.

Sorta. Kinda. OK -- no. But we'll survive.

The good wife didn't cut back everything.


Dree said...

I'm a little surprised you're not rooting through your composter for some thyme and tarragon--or are you not into a Bound Tom Collins?

Fred Hoffman said...

An organic control for bindweed: landscape fabric placed over soil, then covered with bark or other plant-derived product (organic matter) or rock, will control field bindweed. It may take more than 3 years of light exclusion before the bindweed is killed.