Friday, May 13, 2016


Should they ever discover plant life on Mars I would not be a bit surprised if it turned out to be onion weed ... or oxalis. These two weeds are indestructible, and they have well and truly taken over our succulent patch in recent months. It was a disgrace: you could barely see the smaller succulent plants for the weeds, and so I've been waiting for the weather to cool down a bit so I could get stuck into the big job of yanking out all the weeds and renovating the whole patch back to "as-new" condition.

To kick things off, let's start with the finished, renovated succulent patch. Traa daa! 

This, dear readers, is how it now looks, six hours after starting on the project. It took a lot longer than I imagined it would.

The first step was to pull every small succulent out of the ground and toss them into a few trugs and trays. That's one thing I can say about succulents: these things grow and multiply incredibly easily. I was amazed how many there were.

The next step was the ugly bit, and it took a long time to do it: digging out onion weed and both type of oxalis (ie, the one with large leaves which grows from bulbs (Oxalis latifolia) and the "creeping" variety with small leaves that sends out runners in every direction (Oxalis corniculata).)

As I dug the soil I realised that there were probably more decorative "mulch" pebbles in the soil than on top of the soil as mulch, so I went into the kitchen, grabbed a large bamboo-handled wire scoop (bought from a Chinese food store) that we never use, and pressed it into service as a pebble sifter.

What a fantastic pebble sifter! It did a brilliant job, and along the way it also scooped up, oh ... about another thousand oxalis and onion weed bulbs.

Two giant trugs loaded up with sifted pebbles, and I was ready to plant the succulents back into the prepared bed. 

(By the way, pebble mulches are nice to look at and have one other benefit: they don't stay wet and so they are a good environment for growing succulents. As for slowing the growth of weeds? Utterly hopeless. In fact, the creeping type of oxalis loves spreading across pebble mulches, and onion weed powers through it. And over time, the pebbles slowly sink into the soil, so in general they aren't my favourite mulch at all.)

Replanting everything allowed me to re-arrange the plants, with the smallest ones right down the front, mediums in the middle and tall ones at the back. I know this sounds perfectly obvious, but when I originally planted the succulents I wasn't sure of their ultimate sizes, and a few have grown more than I expected.Pictured here are Gasteria (top left), sempervivums (left), faucaria centre right, echeveria (far right), Corpuscularia (top centre), and another type of echeveria (top right).

Some of those names above might be familiar to you, but if you haven't heard of corpuscularia, here it is. It's one of my favourites in the whole patch, and the renovation has allowed me to move it to a better spot.

The spiky guy in the centre is Haworthia attenuata. When I planted it back in 2012 the clump was almost this size. Now, four years later, I was able to divide the clump into two clumps this size. I honestly hadn't realised until I looked at an old photo how much this had grown.

As I mentioned earlier, I had dug out all the smaller succulents, but had left the larger, more established succulent shrubs in place. And they've also grown a fair bit since I first planted it all out in September 2012. Look at the photo below for the comparison.

While the weeds have multiplied, so have the succulents themselves. I am sure the weeds will be back in force in no time, but here's hoping the succulents will also keep on growing and take over the place. That's the plan ...

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