Despite the recent inaccurate weather forecasts, it rained today – just a sprinkle. If there’s one mixed cocktail of blessing and curse that comes with California winter rain, it’s the constant emergence of new Bermuda grass seedlings in our backyard. While we are lucky to have the mild weather in California, rain, weeds and wildflowers seem to go together in this season. And, as a gardener, weeding takes up the most time right after the November planting season.
Often I see the grass seedlings each morning when I draw the curtains from the girls’ bedroom window. They are like a plague spread across the soil. I am almost always tempted to run outside immediately and start grabbing handfuls of grass sprouts, but that’s not always possible. Usually, I have to get the girls ready for school. Looking out the window, if I’m not careful, I might start pulling my hair just from the temptation of wanting to get rid of the bad weeds faster.
Bermuda grass seedlings will grow into blades of grass more quickly than the Clarkia will become flowers. If I don’t pull them early, they will eventually take root under the mulch and make a complex web of stubborn yellow roots by summertime. Then it will be impossible to dig up the roots. Also, as the horticulturist/gardener, Jeffrey, explained to me, removing grass sprouts eventually reduces the overall weed-seed burden in the soil. As you reduce the weed-seed burden, the time investment and patience in removing the invaders will allow permanent space for the wildflowers to thrive instead.
The one hope and blessing is the Elegant Clarkia is also sprouting in small clumps. I can’t wait until they grow larger and develop their more mature leaves. (Also luckily, this year, I didn’t lose too many wildflower seeds to our outdoor neighbors: the squirrels and the birds. I tried something different and used this seed starter to mix in with the seeds. It’s been effective and I didn’t need to use any bird netting.)
I am usually conflicted about making time to step outside to do a bit of clean up. Partly because the husband could complain about my absence at weekend breakfast – another guilt trip about how I’m not spending time with him or with the kids. (Although the guilt trip isn’t really his doing, just my own mind tricks when he asks me to come back inside.)
And recently, the kids will run inside and sneak in extra screen time as soon as they see me step out into the backyard. I really wish they would spend more time outdoors with me, and without me having to insist or to confiscate their devices.
Even with these challenges, the time I spent last year on my 4 x 4 foot hell-strip in the front yard is paying dividends. Just today, I went by this little patch of dirt and little feather-like leaves of CA Poppies and Blue Flax are coming up near the sidewalk. I see minimal spurges, bindweed or Bermuda grass. Last October, the girls planted some Lacy Phacelia, and it’s growing tall – about 2 feet. I feel so happy to see new flowers growing. Every time I walk by the wildflower patch, I do a little dance.
There’s hope yet for the backyard, but it is a more expansive space and a lot more work than I could manage. For the next few weekends, as long as no one at home complains about my absence at breakfast, I expect to spend more mornings with a cup of coffee in hand, and pulling up the grass sprouts.
Wish me luck. ❤