Project Grass

A big advantage to soccer is that the half time is short because they don’t have many highlights to knock around. A penalty is a highlight with instant replays of the ref handing a player a yellow card. What else do you need to know? I did have a lot of fun kidding Simon and Eric since they are both soccer fans.

I was surprised this morning with a news story – but I honestly don’t know why. ABC said that a new report from some authentic sounding scientific or government authority found that childhood obesity rates have been dropping for the past 10 years. Dropping. Am I wacko or haven’t we been flooded with concerns about childhood obesity for the past couple of years? Isn’t this exactly the same as learning that the earth’s temperatures have actually been dropping for the past 10 years among continuous reports that it’s rising? Wonder if they’ll keep hounding McDonald’s about the Happy Meals? Is the media being led around by the nose and totally unable to distinguish fact from utter speculation?? duh. I have some ideas on how to cut the budget deficit.

Started closing down the garden big time. We got a goodly amount of veggies but it’s mostly run it’s course. Still a couple rows of beans coming on, plenty of peppers and eggplant but the real space eaters are done. I was anxious to pull the tomatoes to see if the nematodes had invaded, and if so, to what extent. I pulled out half the plants and found basically no nematode damage at all. Pulled a couple of zucchini squash plants with the same result. That’s a major victory. What I wonder is if once eliminated, they stay gone or can they reinvade? I’ll let most of the garden go dormant now for a few months using a clear plastic covering over certain areas to solarize the soil. Then replant in late Sept/early Oct from seeds started indoors mid – late August. I’m thinking that I’ll stay with all the extra steps I took to ward off the evil nematodes but play around with the pesticides and the fertilizer to see if I can increase the productivity. On the pesticides, I’m going to abandon the liquid chems and go with Sevin dust; with the fertilizer, going to supplement with a good dose of epson salts to add more trace metals to the soil. I’ve got two large batches of compost cooking that should be ready for prime time by the end of mid Sept. That should be maybe 5-6 cubic yards of organic goodness.

My current project is restoring the grass out the back door. I’m not a grass guy and have learned to live in harmony with the weeds but this particular area has gotten embarrassingly barren with really nasty looking weeds. This is a good time of the year to replant grass because of the frequent, afternoon rains. It’s tough going because of the heat and humidity but the grass takes off under these conditions. What we call grass in Fla is called crabgrass elsewhere and pulled out. Our St. Augustine grass is one of the only types of grass that can live in our climate so that’s what we have to work with. Fifty years ago when you bought a house, you had a sand/dirt yard and you sprigged or plugged it with St Augustine and then nursed it along as the runners spread fairly quickly and put down new roots every few inches. At some point people became lazier and wealthier such that instead of sprigging and plugging, you had an entire lawn put in using sod. In the morning there was a dirt yard; in the afternoon a full lawn carpet. Trouble is that the roots on the sod really never got down too deep and the runners are never able to put down new anchor roots so to maintain a decent lawn requires frequent application of fertilizer and pesticides. That means a lawn service.

Still, it’s much, much easier. I’m personally not a sod fan and wanted to do this the old fashion, tried and true way so I decided to tackle it a bit at a time rather than a broad, back breaking attack. I target an area of about 150-200 sf, weed it thoroughly by hand, till it and pitch in a few handfuls of fertilizer, then put in sod plugs every foot or so. I have to be sure it get’s plenty of water and hoe out invader weeds before the runners fill in but the end result is good and strong. I started this about a month ago and the first plot is maybe 50% covered and looking good. I’ve even had to mow it once to keep the growth horizontal (adding roots) instead of vertical. My objective is to have the back area looking decent by the end of the summer and not to have melted away in the process. I think the sweat dripping off my bod helps water and fertilizer the new plugs – another part of the process that is missing when a lawn is carpet sodded. I will admit that 50 years ago I would have sprigged instead of plugged but the challenge of starting with nothing but runners was more than I cared to undertake.

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