Sunday, April 18, 2010

The opening post: Lawn and Garden and Root-bound

Today was a Saturday, so it was a big day in the whole gardening/landscaping area.

I spent the first major part of my day working on my front yard. Yes, I know, this isn't exactly part of a garden that provides sustenance, but there's great satisfaction in creating a lush, verdant swath of fescue and ryegrass and bluegrass-- all without chemicals.

So here's what I saw this morning when I stepped outside to get started. My grass has been greening up and is beginning to show some real life.

You might have noticed the curvaceous flower bed bordering my yard-- you know, the thing with the rocks lining about two-thirds of it. That has a growing strawberry patch, a large bunch of daisies, several spots of salvia, phlox and a lot of stonecrop in it.

Yes, I tore out the yard to make the flower bed. No, you don't want me to get into that very much-- way more work than I expected!

So I thought I'd take a more close-up picture of my yard. As you can see, that green swath was really the forest, but not the trees. Lots of thatch on that yard. I like some thatch; it keeps weeds under control and is a nice, natural mulch fertilizer, but it was clear something had to be done.

I was not looking forward to it, but I needed to rake the entire yard. Now, if you are one of the lucky ones, you either own a scarifier, or you can rent one easily. Not so much with me.

What's a scarifier? This is a machine that is essentially a power rake. You run it over your lawn and it shreds thatch-- pulling it up and doing a pretty fine job of it.

Let me break in here with a link or two to articles on dethatching your lawn and your lawn's first mowing:

Alright, back to business.

So you can use a scarifier, or use a rake.

I used a fan rake. Yes, I got double blisters on my hands. Yes, I hurt even now. No, I don't regret it. Here are some shots of how things looked as I went.

This is one third done. I started on the side to the right of this photo and raked toward the left, or east, side of the lawn.

No, there is no particular reason for this choice. It just appealed to me. Maybe I wanted to rebel against the sun's trajectory.

Anyway, that semi-haphazard pile that is sort of across the yard is the grass and leaves and other debris I had scraped up with my fan rake.

Here's another pic. I'm about half done here.

I was wondering if I had bitten off more than I could chew at this point.

But hey, take a look at all of that dead grass and other debris! Good times, eh?

You're asking, "Who's that charming little figure over there by the spigot?" And you're saying, "He's obviously being very helpful by turning the water on and off. And every time it turns on, he is being extra great because he caterwauls at the water that comes fizzing out of the loose connection and sprays him on the face."

That's my assistant for the day.

He's nearly two and he's awesome. He's number five and his name is Benjamin.

He's wearing a Boston Red Sox onesie. He inherits his teams in the same manner that his father did.

Anyway, back to the gardening. So I got the dethatching done. It took me about two hours to get it all raked.

After dethatching, I wanted to be sure I prepared my yard well so I could reseed. If you don't know what this means, let me gently caress you with some knowledge. Reseeding is when you build your turf by laying seed in your existing yard.

So I knew that by dethatching so vigorously, I had loosened the top inch or so of soil in my yard. My next step is to mow quickly, with the grass bag attached, to gather the loose thatch that had escaped my piles. I do this also to get my grass a little shorter, expose the soil a bit more, and in order to not have to mow for a couple of weeks while the new seeds sprout and take hold.

FYI: I lower the mower so it's leaving about 2 1/2 inches of grass.

With the mowing done, I decided to soften things up a little more by watering the entire yard briefly.

Note the sprinkler.

Now I have left out an important part of my organic lawn care. Many folks have to deal with lame weeds in their yard-- me included. We deal with crabgrass, creeping charlie, and dandelions mostly. Here's what I do: I carry around a dandelion slayer with me when I work outside. Every time I see a weed, I slay it with this handy dandy tool. Here:

Alright, the tool is not technically called a dandelion slayer, but it is made to remove dandelions permanently. And that leafy plant isn't a dandelion. It might be a phlox-like weed, but it doesn't really matter, because it had  to leave my yard.

I used that tool there to remove it and about thirty dandelion plants. Considering the fact that it takes me about thirty seconds or less to remove a dandelion, this is time well spent.

Anyway, once the yard had been watered briefly, I reseeded. I used a package of regular, straight seeds. It was a mixture of ryegrass, kentucky bluegrass (also good music!), and fescue. This is good stuff for high-traffic in my mountain conditions. I sprinkled it lightly all over the yard, then watered again to get the seeds weighed down and on their way to germination.

The final product for today:

Compare this shot with the first one above. Things are even-looking and the grass looks like a nicely brushed head of hair. But no greener yet. That will take time.

As for the provident garden, I did a bit of work there too. The thatch and clippings I gathered went into my compost. Then I watered my compost to get the decomposition process going. I also did some clearing of the garden patches in preparation for the soil to be fully tilled next week.

We will be tilling by hand again this year. We need to be able to handle the work. Yes, we have over 300 square feet of veggie garden space.

We can take it.

My final project was to deal with an extraordinarily root-bound spider plant. This plant is called Phoenix. I will tell you why later. I found a nice-sized planter pot, tossed some rocks in the bottom for drainage, added two inches of compost dirt (tasty!), and then pulled the poor Phoenix out of her old pot. This is what she looked like after fifteen minutes of me loosening roots:


I ended up spraying the root pack with a water bottle quite liberally. That helped a lot. Then I got her planted in some nice fresh soil in a far bigger pot. She went from a 6" pot to a 12" pot.

I felt like I could hear her say, "Ahhhh" as I patted soil around her.

She's back in place, hanging from a tough ceiling hook in the kids' room.

I also did laundry today, but that's just bragging!

This is a long post. I hope it's helpful.

If you feel like the Provident Garden is helpful, I invite you to pass along word. More people doing good things with the earth and self-reliance will do more good for our society than we can imagine.

See you tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. well nice Garden but can u tell me How do I get rid of weeds? Thanks !

    lawn and turf


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