Spring grass explosion

Brome grass. Ranchers plant it because it’s indestructible. They can graze it hard with lots of cattle and still it comes back. Invasives can try to attack it, but its long reaching roots can beat them. There seems to be nothing stronger than brome.

In spring, it explodes. Here’s Jackson appreciating it.

Jackson in brome


So when you are trying to get rid of it, or keep it at bay, some creative measures are in order. In our lower permaculture bed designed and put in place with the help of Backyard Abundance in Iowa City, the cardboard, landscape cloth and many inches of wood chips we laid down last year are just barely hanging in there.


Brome in spring

Last fall we planted comfrey and sunchokes, also known as Jerusalem Artichokes, on the edges of the cardboard anticipating the day when it deteriorates and the brome attacks. That day is coming soon…

comfrey fending off brome

The good news is that most of the fruit trees survived this horrendous winter. Apples, pears and persimmons are busting out of their shelters and cages. We hope that if nothing else, we’ve given them a head start so they can hold their own against the brome when it finally creeps into their roots.

Also at risk with this kind of permaculture – out in the boonies – is varmints eating the little stuff. Aronias and hazelnuts seem to have taken a hit. It’s hard to find a trace of many of them. We’ll shelter them better if we plant again.

We also learned this week how aggressive big blue stem can be, especially in a domesticated landscape. We were planning to transplant some from our prairie remnant around the house, but we’re thinking twice now. If you have any experience with that, please let us know. We’d love to hear.