Friday, 11 January 2019

Killing Kikuyu

Biodiversity Advisor Chris offered to come and do a site recce of St Giles Church on Friday.
We walked around the church, the tree I thought was an Indian Bean Tree on the corner was not, it was a Titoki.
And the tree I thought was a Kauri growing out of a fence at the Daycare is not, it's a totara. The totara would make a splendid shade tree if we were able to move it to the right place. Well that solves that problem of thinking what to replace the felled cherry tree with. I am so mad at Bark for not even giving back the mulch that was our chipped up cherry tree. What they actually do with the chippings I don't know, more often than not they just pay to dump them elsewhere but it was actually our tree and it was requested they leave the chippings there. They also took forever to get back to Denis without even a courtesy call. I was rather ashamed to have worked for such cowboys. This is annoying me now because with that mulch we could have created an entire garden bed. 

There are all sorts of nasty weeds growing at church. The worst offender is kikuyu. I don't know if it was there originally or they introduced it, by deliberately sowing kikuyu grass as lawn, but all I know is...the mower is just spreading it around. I think it looks terrible and it chokes anything in its path. it climbs through trees and shrubs and just wants to dominate everything. Nobody even uses the berms as a lawn, I never see anyone barefoot running on the 'grass' there and nobody ever has a picnic on it.  I've seen dead birds though, killed by the mower or having eaten poison and dropped dead. It grows into the drain which gets choked with debris and then floods with runoff in a downpour. Perhaps it's serving it's purpose as holding the soil down, or we could be having dust storms and erosion, but other than that I think meh. Could do better church! We could have a garden instead of a job for a machine. Auckland Transport have said its now up to us to maintain it, but I don't see them giving us a lawnmower or plants. But if they've given us this land, we can do with it whatever we like. Surely. Like..grow plants, not weeds. 

The other weeds identified are near the back fence include moth plant, asparagus fern, cotoneaster, jasmine, montbretia, woolly nightshade, ladder fern, basalm, taiwanese cherry and privet. You name it we've got it. What a job. I'm thinking. What are we going to do. How can we achieve this vision when there's all these weeds here. Especially kikuyu. So I went online googling 'How to kill kikuyu'. 
Even glysophate won't work. Mulching won't work. Digging makes it worse. 

But then there's this...mow the kikuyu real short, cover it with thick clear plastic in the height of summer and burn it out. Yes. It will fry to a crisp and then one can use the dead kikuyu as compost. 
So now I'm wondering where we can get huge sheets of clear plastic from. Anyone got any ideas. A factory that does giant plastic tunnel greenhouses with offcut sheets? 

I had some ideas for planting. I'm still thinking we need trees. I am just cooking out there. And I'm sure even if birds don't want to stay as it's not ever going to be forest, we could have enough trees and shrubs so that they will at least visit. 

So thanks to Chris advice I have a list so far -

Corprosma Karamu
Mountain flax

for exotics
South African plants - protea and leucodendron

I'm thinking we do guilds of tree, shrubs and groundcovers in groups of three-five species each, to provide a polyculture habitat. They need to spaced enough apart to allow for growth, and quick growing filler plants can be grown in between. This will shade out any competing weeds. The filler plants can then be cut down and used as mulch and the garden will be self sustaining. The trees will capture water runoff from the slope with their deeper roots and any leaf litter will mulch the soil. The trees will attract birdlife which is also good for keeping insects in check and bring life to the area. 

For groundcovers under trees I'm thinking astelias and renga renga lilies. We could plant up the entire berm, ridding it of kikuyu forever and the satanic tyranny of the mowing treadmill. I'm sorry if I'm putting the mower man out of business, or reducing is mowing time but I'm sure there will be more work for him elsewhere, unless he wants to repent and convert and become a gardener like the rest of us born agains. 

Otherwise, with current landscape looking like the makings of a Sahara desert, with an odd dying tree here and there and bleached bones of dead birds anyone would think we were in the great plains just before the dust storms came. Little Church on the Prairie. I'm not sure it inspires anyone to come have their weddings here or be fruitful and multiply when it looks so barren. Oh Auckland Transport, what have you done??