To call it grass is too kind. Grass is a thing that people like to have in their yards, present company excluded. Make no mistake, grass is an unnecessary evil, but it is a light sniffle beside the chronic bronchitis that is Nutsedge.
This weed was never meant to be ours, it was bred in Egypt as a crop once upon a time and somehow found its way into the New World long enough ago that we consider it a native plant these days. I have been told it was introduced to the mainland by way of farmers unintentionally dredging up nutsedge laden silt from the sea to use in their agricultural practice, but I can’t verify this and refuse to do all but the most cursory research in defense of this fact. The plant can now be found throughout the United States, but lucky us, it is perfectly suited to our climate, so here in New Orleans it reigns supreme throughout the Summer months.
It’s roots, or more accurately tubers, look like tiny nuts and are very difficult to pull from the soil. You can catch some, but you cannot catch them all, not every time, not any time. It will prevail. That nutsedge was once considered a food crop in more than a few nations is unfathomable to me. It is so difficult enough to weed, I cannot imagine that it provides enough sustenance to make up for the calories lost and the stress levels gained through harvest. It is said to taste a bit like nutmeg, and is a common ingredient in horchata, one of my favorite drinks. This does not make it any better in my book. It should be destroyed.
Alas, it cannot be destroyed. Not only are those tubers near impossible to effectively eliminate, but the blades of grass that it shoots forth into the sky are razor sharp and seem to grow inches each day. They can and will cut through mulch, landscape fabric, cardboard, or whatever else you lay atop it to curb its growth and photosynthetic activity. Worse, the tubers do a great job of sending out roots and building networks that can weasel their way into your garden beds with ease. Those god-forsaken tubers are a little bit easier to coax out of soft, pliable soils, the sort of soil your garden bed ought to have, so their spread can be mitigated if caught early. Mind you, I choose the word mitigated with purpose. It will not be controlled, it will not be destroyed, it will only be mitigated.
Even Round-Up has proven only somewhat effective against nutsedge. It cannot be destroyed, but it must be mitigated, else it will cover all that you know and love throughout the hot months.
Beyond the hot months rests the silver lining in this unfathomable kingdom of nutsedge. It does go dormant as the heat of Summer abates. In our case, that may well not be until mid-November, but the sedge will seem to disappear once temperatures drop a bit, and you will be able to breath easy for about two days before the Dollarweed moves in and takes over the weed scene.
The extremely persistent gardener might manage to eradicate nutsedge from their garden after a few seasons of militant weeding, but for most of us it is an unavoidable that must be lived with Summer after sweltering Summer. I tell you this not to dishearten you, but to let you know that you are not alone and you have done nothing wrong. We all deal with nutsedge and we likely always will. Breathe easy, we’re all in this together, forever.
Ian writes these. Fearlessly.