What I Shed Today

lightening up a little at a time

yellow nutsedge

on June 4, 2014

My little break from WIST lasted longer than I thought because, in my spare hours over the last three days, I’ve relentlessly shed yellow nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus). A vigorous stand of it has exploded in my front-yard vegetable garden beds. I should have expected so … the infection arrived in a load of compost I bought and applied in the spring of 2013. I noticed (and pulled) the characteristic triangular stems and pale rhizomes when they sprouted in the pile, but I neglected to do enough research to learn that nutsedge grows from very persistent tubers. So now they’re in my garden and we’re struggling for control of the space. If I cultivate and remove the stems enough times (six or more, the sustainable agriculture literature suggests), I can starve most of the tubers out. And I have to try, because the network of roots, rhizomes, tubers, and foliage nutsedge produces will otherwise out-compete my food crops.

I don’t dare try to dispose of the plant matter I’m pulling in my own compost piles; they don’t get hot enough to kill the hardy tubers and rhizomes of nutsedge. Instead I plan to dry them and then make use of the ancient agricultural practice of purification by fire. The carpenter of Nazareth said something about grass that’s thrown into the oven and burned (recorded in Matthew 6:30 and Luke 23:28) that’s always baffled me, till now. Why burn grass? I wondered. Now I know.

yellow nutsedge with tubers

yellow nutsedge with tubers

Other than that it wants total world domination, nutsedge is an interesting neighbor. In some regions and cultures, the tubers, called tiger nuts or chufa, are an important crop. (They’re the key ingredient of the Spanish beverage horchata.) I don’t plan to try to harvest mine, but I’m glad to remember there’s likely some good in everything, even in what I desperately want to shed.

shedding style: remove
destination: fire and ashes 

Comments welcome … got weeds?

Update: ’cause baby, I was born this way, my curiosity provoked me to try one. Raw, my test tiger nut was bitter, but had an agreeable peppery-minty taste, over a foundation like almonds. Interesting, but not enough to propel me into cultivating them.

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One response to “yellow nutsedge

  1. […] and weeding that will eventually manage the outbreak of bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon), yellow nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus), and purple nutsedge (Cyperus […]

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