Monday, August 17, 2009

Drawing the Line

I live in the country. We have acres of natural, untouched land. It's lovely really, but I am a product of the suburbs and I wanted grass. Green, green grass. A lot of it. The soft kind that is good for picnics and raising kids. The kind you can run in barefoot and mow into a nice flat surface.

So we set out to tame a corner of our wilderness. We ran sprinklers, laid sod, planted trees and shrubs, placed rocks strategically, and generally worked to make it more suitable for our young family. One thing I realized right away in creating this kid-friendly-oasis-in-the-sage-brush was that I needed to set boundaries. I needed to know the line between my influence and nature having her way. So we built a fence. Ah. My brain appreciated that line.
Within our fence we have areas that are pretty dialed in. Close to home we have the green grass--the stuff that really needs our attention to stay green and groomed. But as you move further form the house it is not so defined. This is where you find bark in some spots, and other areas where I have yet to 'reclaim' and tame. For example, I am thinking I want to transplant some blackberries over here, so we have tilled up the weeds to get it ready. It's a work in progress really. It is also between the grass and the fence that I have planted our garden and berries. There aren't a lot of strict lines here inside the fence, and as the plants grow, it's not really a problem when pumpkins mingle with the strawberries.
But just outside the fence from the strawberries lurks the wilderness. And it wants in. Inside the fence is where all of the water and amended dirt are, and oh how the wilderness tries to eek out a home here.This is one of the sneakiest sneakers I have come across. It is a blueish greenish grass that is very drought tolerant. It doesn't need hardly any water to live, but when it does get water, it goes crazy. It doesn't set seed the way lots of grasses do, so to spread, it travels underground and sends up new shoots. It looks nice enough, but if you feel it, it is kind of stiff and scratchy. And stubborn. Once it has arrived, it is a difficult resident to evict. A swath of it grows just outside of my line of influence (ie the fence). It had crossed under the fence this spring and I was not pleased. I tried to pull it and dig it out, but I failed. It kept creeping in and soon invaded the raspberries. I resorted to more aggressive measures and sprayed it with Round-up type stuff. I seemed to work-- although once it had crossed that fence, I had a hard time isolating it to kill, and found my herbicide inadvertently got on my desirable plants as well.

Darn that grass got under my skin the more it got under my fence. I decided I'd better take defensive measures and I sprayed all along the bottom of the fence to exclude it form my yard. I didn't go too crazy spraying because I thought by drawing my line I would keep it at bay. It seemed to work. The grass died right near the fence. And I was content. For a while.

You can imagine my horror when I went to pick strawberries and I noticed this....and even this:
That's right. That sneaky grass was not so easily thwarted. It wasn't giving up on my oasis so easily. It traveled under the ground, right past the dead stuff, and brazenly popped up amidst the strawberries. So I am stuck. Because it cannot be dug out, I will need to spray again and will most likely lose some strawberries in the process. But if I wait, it will be much worse next spring.

I think I learned a lesson about drawing that line between my sphere of influence and the wilderness. Although fences are good, sometimes they are not enough. The wilderness has lots of tricks up it's sleeve and lots of methods to sneak it's way in. I thought I could let the wilderness cozy right up to my fence and it wouldn't harm any of my productive plants and with some things that is true. But with the sneaky wild stuff, I need to be more proactive. I need to be bold in pushing it back. A few inches is not enough because it isn't giving up easily--it wants what I've got on my side of the fence. I should kill that invasive grass off for a couple of feet from the fence so it doesn't stand a chance creeping under like that. I also should have looked for signs of invasion sooner, before it got a good foothold. Now it will be tougher to get out and will be more painful to my strawberry production as a whole. Hopefully I'll learn this lesson and I'll know how to draw the line.

Feel free to come up with your own Gospel Analogy. I am learning that the Prophet doesn't tell us to grow a garden just for the fresh peas.

1 comment:

Keryn said...

I think that last line--the one about the peas--is very profound.

Amazing post, Michelle. Thanks for sharing your talent with us.