Once Upon a Time in the West: an encounter with tribulous terrestris

Today when browsing my email I read a post from a friend at bdale56, which led me to follow a link to littlesundog  .   I was curious about the blog’s name, as Little Sun Dog is what we sometimes call Tucker.   Therein, she had posted about ‘Damnable Weeds,’ and discussed the Goatshead bur.   That caused me to recall a time from my early childhood…

English: Tribulus terrestris (flower). Locatio...

Image via Wikipedia

The Goat’s Head Bur ~  looks tame, flower is cute, BUT… Read on friends.

Oh, how I remember those goat’s head burs!  My first, and worst, memory was from when I was a child of four.  I ran out into the field near our new house to catch a kitten and got stuck in the biggest sticker patch ever.  It had to be ten feet in any direction and I was right smack in the middle of it before I even registered the pain of my predicament.   With each step the bottoms of my little feet would become  covered in those evil stickers.  It was, as you might imagine, like walking on thumbtacks.  I lifted a foot, pulled them out, took a step and picked up more of the evil seed heads.

Tribulus terrestris L. - puncturevine thorns

Image via Wikipedia

Evil seed heads

Screaming and wailing piteously had  alerted a young teen passing by the field.  He yelled over to me and asked, “Do you need some help?”

To which I yelled back, “Nooooo!” 

Seriously.  My parents had raised me to never-ever talk to strangers, and he was a stranger.

Ignoring my protest, he crossed the field and came to my rescue.   Scooping  me up in his arms, he carried me out of the field, then sitting down, he carefully pulled each and every sticker out of my little feet.  My little face was hot, red, and covered in tears by the time he had finished.  I remember thanking him as he got up to continue his walk on down the road.  You know, I never saw him again, but he was at the top of my Hero list for a very long time!


Now you and I know that pulling weeds is not a chore that is enjoyed by anyone, especially a child,   and as I learned young to hate the weed, well eradication was never a chore!   In fact, I rather took joy in seeking them out and pulling them up as soon as I spotted them, anywhere, any time.


I am so glad that the evil Goat’s Head weed does not grow here.

Photo Friday: here and there, then and now

When we first moved here I was so exited about how green and lush everything is.  I was also excited to have so much room to plant in and couldn’t wait to get started.  HA!  The first time I tried to put the garden fork into the soil it bounced back and almost knocked me out!  We tried to use the Mantis to till out a garden spot and it just bounced along on the surface while the weeds and grass laughed at our folly…  So we went out and bought a BIG BOY Cub Cadet garden tiller.

I am afraid to use it. 

It is a seriously big and powerful machine.  When cranked up it sounds like a tractor and puffs huge blasts of air out of the front exhaust.  It reminds me of a bull getting ready to charge… I envision that the mighty beast will knock me to the ground,  sit on me, all the while huffing and snorting in victorious laughter.

If you like this and need one, you can click the picture to be taken to their site… (and NO, I am not being sponsored nor receiving any monetary compensation for this.)

For this reason Bob preps the areas I want to garden with the Cadet, and then I come in with the little Mantis to wage war on all the weeds.

Sometimes I get frustrated by the way, seemingly overnight,  the weeds come and take over my garden.  I think about my gardens in California and I get melancholy…  seems that with less water there was more control.  However, there was a cost too.    Water restrictions and the expense of watering the portions of the garden that needed it (my herbs and roses) made the price of gardening high!  Water rates were hiked 40% over a span of 4 years!!!  Hence we hired someone to design a native garden for us.  One that could live off of the average rainfall in Southern California.  We, of course, did all the work to save money!

It looked like this before…

Needless to say, this is not practical in an area that was desert before it was irrigated and overpopulated!

Enter Brian Swope from Tierra Seca Landscape Design who did some wonderful planning for us.    So, when we got done planting the yard looked like this!

Once established we never had to water it!  There are more pictures HERE

By the way, you can see more of his finished projects HERE!  He has since moved to the vicinity of San Francisco, if you live up there I strongly urge you to contact him.  You will not be disappointed!


And so it is, bit by bit, I have been trying to work a miracle.  Trying to turn all the weeds and wild grasses into gardens.  It is a slow and labor intensive process with nearly 6 times the area to cover.  Seems I start at one end, turn around to look back and…

More weeds!

Sigh.  I look for the day when the weeds have given up and the gardens have taken over.

In the meantime, I pick away at it…

Weeds and grass out!  Some new plantings in.

From back to front:  the sunflowers, tomatoes, peppers are done, but the bush beans are still waiting!

A neighbor came by and bulldozed the giant, grass-covered, red clay mountain behind the vegetable patch for us early this morning (red area in photo above)!  Now we will begin the process of sheet mulching to make it healthy, plantable soil!

With the exception of the rock drive, I have stuck to my plan of no chemical agents (Roundup).  I wonder if I will I ever gain control.

How do you conquer your garden nemeses?

NOTE:  Strictly speaking, if you sheet mulch you should not be rototilling.  However, with our hard-packed, concrete, red clay soil we feel the need to get things softened up before we turn 90.  Hence, we sheet mulched for two years, then rototilled, then planted.  The soil is now very friable, allows better drainage, and good deep root structure on the plants.  Over the winter months, we will sheet mulch again and then, hopefully, we will not need the rototill in the areas that have been worked over the three-year improvement time!