Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mowing, Soil Making, and Planting

Marigold seedling planted in the garden

My dandelions have been popping up their heads for a while now. They have stretched up high and were making the lawn look a little scraggly. The lawn has barely started growing, but I still felt it was time to mow for the first time. I'm not talking the first time this year, or the first time with my new Neuton rechargeable lawn mower. This is the first time I've ever mowed in my life.

Mowing is pretty easy. It uses a few muscles in my forearms I obviously don't use on a regular basis, but other than that it really isn't much work at all. Just a gentle stroll on the grass trying to push an obstreperous mower over the tree roots. Oh that's why people put those circular mulch piles under their trees. It makes it easier to mow. Well we don't have alien circles in our lawn. The grass goes right up to our Norway maples with huge bumpy roots. Evil trees. Luckily my little Neuton 5.2 is very light. Even I can force the mower over the roots when the mower balks.

The little mower doesn't cut a very wide swath so there are a lot of passes back and forth. All in all, mowing is pretty boring. I wonder. If I put on my noise canceling headphones, will I be able to hear my podcasts? Escape Pod (scifi podcast) and Pod Castle (fantasy podcast) kept me double digging easily. I'm sure they could put a little more fun into my weekly mowing too. I must try that next time.

I noticed that I also need an edger. Is there an easy one to use that is manual? I'm thinking clippers on long handles. I'll have to look into it. Otherwise I'll need to buy a rechargeable trimmer.

There wasn't a lot of grass in the grass catcher though there were a lot of decapitated dandelions. I put what little I had on the compost pile. Then I looked at my leaf pile. I tossed a bit of leaves on the ground and sucked them up with the lawn mower. Instant shredded leaves. Nice. It isn't powerful enough to deal with a huge pile of wet leaves, but it does the nice dry or slightly damp ones just fine. Maybe this year my compost will break down faster if I chop all the leaves up first.

The next chore for the day was to get the tomato pots all ready. I'm sure EG will be disappointed in me, but I didn't make self watering containers. I just drilled holes in the bottom of the six green five gallon pails. It was quick and easy. The hard part was mixing the soil for them. I mixed one pots worth at a time in the wheelbarrow. I used 1/9 course sand, 2/9 vermiculite, 1/3 ancient compost, 1/3 soil from the garden. I also added to each pot: 1 cup 5-3-3 organic fertilizer, 1 cup bone meal, 1 c crushed eggshells (calcium), 1/4 c lime (I have very acidic soil), 1 1/2c azomite (micro nutrients). I mixed it all together and filled each pot. It took forever. My back hurt afterward. It never hurt when I was double digging. It takes bending over a wheelbarrow for way too long. I need a taller wheelbarrow or shorter legs. I ended up squatting on the ground to make it more bearable. I must say I really like planting in the ground over all this excess work of making your own soil. I have issues with potted plants. It seems so unnatural to me. But I'm trying it because I'm greedy and want those tomatoes. They had better produce well.

While I was mixing up soil, I made a bit more for my pot for the front door. I really ought to put it at my back door. So few people use my front door. All my family and friends go around back. I'll think about it. I don't have any flowers to put in it yet anyway. I'll have to buy some soon.

Then I noticed I hadn't brought my plants out for the day. Whoops. I took them out and noticed some of the littler seedlings were getting lost in the foliage. So I decided to plant out my marigolds and tithonia. I consider May 1st to be my last frost date. This year it was (I'm hoping) the night of April 12th which was not just a frost, but a freeze. Last year it was April 15th. The long range forecast says for the next seven days there will be no nights below 40°F (4°C). So I think my plants are safe, though it is by no means 100% certain.

The marigolds had to be cut out of their container. Their roots in the soil blocks had knitted all the blocks together. They really needed to be seeded later than they were. They were way too large for their root system. They were seeded on March 22nd. Note to self: give marigolds only four to five weeks from seed. The tithonia wasn't as bad. They were much slower growers.

I've moved some of the cold hardy plants like the lettuce, tatsoi and monarda into the outdoor flat. They will stay outside all day and night for a couple of days before they get planted. Now the eggplant and tomatillos can breath a little better and more importantly they can see the light.


  1. Did you like the lawnmower? Or maybe you need some taller grass before you decide.

    I have been going over this spring's indoor and outdoor seed planting and making notations about what did and didn't work, then entering prospective dates into my 2010 calendar. Hopefully I'll be better prepared and more knowledgeable about raising my own seedlings by then!

    Thanks to you and WordWeb, I learned a new word today....obstreperous!

  2. I didn't hate it, but yes I'll need long grass to see if it cuts that well. Since it went through leaves well I'm guessing long grass won't be an issue if it is dry.

    Always glad to educate :> It's funny though when I talk I can never find the word I'm looking for. It is always on the tip of my tongue.

  3. Daphne - Your marigold looks perfect. Mine has some white splotches on them and I'm almost afraid to plant them in the garden for fear of spreading a disease.

  4. I've been meaning to ask, what is your favorite weather site for the long term forecast?

    Very tidy holes in the 5 gal buckets!

  5. I like cutting grass but only because I have a small lawn. As a kid I had to cut our lawn at a previous house that was about a 1/2 acre. That was painful and boring.

    Your soil mix looks very nice and airy.

  6. Just dig up your lawn and plant all edibles… then you don't have to worry about any of that mess mowing and edging and such… hehehehe… just sayin'…

  7. Cheryl, oh no. My tithonia has weird spots on it, but I'm pretty sure it is from getting burned on our hot days. It looks like that and not mildew issues. I'm hoping.

    Henbogle, There are two long range ones I look at. Channel 7 and Channel 7 is seven days and is more accurate. Local people tend to understand the weather patterns better and can guess when the computer models don't agree. TWC ( is a 10 day forecast and horribly inaccurate since it is national so just follow the computer models. Neither are perfect, but they do show trends. I also look at the NECN, Channel 5, and the underground weather forecasts, but they are only five days. They never agree :> If you have a local station it is probably best.

    Dan 1/2 acre would be very boring. I have that much land, but it isn't in lawn.

    Shibaguys, :> I could grow more food than I could ever eat on the land I have. I've thought about it now that I have more free time, but I'm moving soon. Frankly most people want lawn. This house would sell to someone with young kids. We have a great school system and it is usually who moves in. People with kids want lawns. My next house however will get lots of the lawn ripped up - if we can find one.

  8. Aw swc's? Ha! That's alright...they'll still do great! I finally had to stop myslef from building anymore swc's! It is so addictive!