With the standard mower, I'd mow it wet if you A. have a sharp blade, and B. haven't waited too long. I think the mowing a wet lawn is a bit of a myth. I think what happens is most people don't keep their blades sharp. Then there is a rainy streak, which started on the day they should have mowed. They didn't mow so it got too long, and was still rainy and wet. This leads to a panic mow which cuts off too much (more than 1/2 the blade,) with soggy grass. I can see that combo (dull blade, too long, wet) clogging the mower and shredding the grass instead of cutting it. Which I've been guilty of. Now I mow when it needs it, rain or shine. I've noticed the mower doesn't get clogged and matted up and the grass doesn't complain either. I agree with Paul that the reel mower is better. They clip the grass instead of taking a whack at it. A sharp blade on a standard definitely helps, but still doesn't approach that of a reel. If this mower breaks, I may be able to talk Katie into letting me buy one. Until then, I'll just make do with what I got. Besides, I like the exercise of pushing that heavy engine around.
I can't rightly comment on the long term effects. Our spring rainy season coincides with our dandelion bloom, and a growth spurt for the grass. I mowed the lawn 4 days in a row with it wet this year. I did this to keep the grass height in check, and take a whack at the dandies, which popped up new, huge crop of seeds each of those days. I bagged up their seed heads with the grass and am composting them. Now I had some areas of grass that laid down while it was wet due to my obsessive mowing. They all perked right back up in a couple of days. The trick for me was to mow often, and mow high. My four day streak was preceded by about 4-5 days of rest. The grass didn't really have a chance to get too tall. That kept me in the 1/3 rule. I sharpen my blade 2-3 times a year. That helps cut the wet grass instead of pulverizing it into a mush. I keep my mower set on the highest it will go. Dunno how high that is, never measured. Hope this helps.
Kimberly, with 4-5 in. of soil you are way ahead of me. I'd be inclined to fertilize with Ringer if available or Scott's Organic Choice if not. Follow Paul's directions. Mow high, mow often, water only when needed. The weeds really don't like being cut at with the mower, (not sure about the medic.) Paul and others on here have convinced me of the cheap and lazy way, (whenever feasible.) If you need your yard nice yesterday, then another 4-5in of soil should kill the weeds. If you added compost, then I'd wait to fertilize until you get a healthy stand of grass. I've done a few decent sized bare dirt patches that I topped with straight compost and threw down seed, raked it in and watered daily or more. I had grass there faster than any of my neighbors who were patching their yards. Nearly a month after I got some thick grass, it still looks good.
Update on my yard. I got the stump routed out and have nearly a yard of good shredded wood that I'm gonna either age for mulch or compost. I left a layer of shredded wood in the hole and surrounding area. I covered the wood with grass clippings to help mitigate the N loss. I covered the clippings with compost and filled the remainder of the hole in with same compost. I left a small mound over the site of the hole. I threw down some seed, raked it in and mulched with straw and water. I'll have pics of the process when I find my camera cable. I'll have more pics when the grass gets going. BTW - Pennington Kentucky 31 Tall Fescue, from Lowes.
Awesome info! I planned on saving my seeds this year and wasn't entirely sure about what can be saved and how. Great to know about biennials. I can add to the list of tomatoes: Orange Oxheart, Old German, and Koralik (cherry); all heirloom tomatoes. Also Principe Borghese, non-heirloom sauce, and Mexican Strain Tomatillo. All of which I'm growing this year. Turns out a good chunk of the seeds I've purchased are OP. If only I'd known this when I ordered, I'd have made some different choices.
Perhaps you could try some super hardy ground cover, like hens and chicks. I remember my parents had some growing on the stump of a shrub and on 2-3" river rock around the stump. The stump really wasn't even rotten yet. I bet it'd love your dirt. Its not the fastest grower, but you can divide it and plant it just about anywhere. I've heard elsewhere in this forum that cowpeas are good for holding and breaking the soil. I see that you have dandelions mixed there. Maybe encourage their seeds to take root in the bare spots? At least to hold the soil in and help break it up. Then you could encourage something else to take its place.
But back to the thread topic. I've used the bacon grease paper thing for years. Several places, including my current residence, had electric ranges. I'd occasionally misplace other firestarting methods and needed a way to start and transport fire. I'd have to light the furnace pilot or start the grill or what not. I'd dip a piece of paper in the grease with a small tip on one end left dry, and enough for a handle dry on the other as well. I'd then touch the small dry tip to the hot element and I'd have a nice roaring candle that I was able to transport to where I needed fire. Using plain paper just burned up too fast and dropped hot ashes.
This thread has given me an idea on disposing of some tree branches and raising a part of my garden which gets flooded in a heavy rain. I'm glad I saved that tree that I felled last year. I would have kept the tree, but it was damaging the foundation of my house and my neighbor's. Now it can do something good for me and the land. BTW, we are planting a smaller, less invasive tree in its place once the stump is gone.
I just read another thread on vermiculture. Susan Monroe mentioned keeping the bin under the sink. I think I could clear out some room under there and she'd never know its down there. I'd, as a matter of course, have to put a hidden cam on it just to capture her reaction if she ever did find it. TCLynx - I wish we had a basement. The garage gets too cold in winter. The other ideas would work, but its not the worms specifically being in the kitchen that would bother her. It would be having them in the house in general that would do it. I think if I can persuade her to have it in the house, the kitchen would be no problem for her. The undersink area is probably one of the places she goes least. She only opens one side for dish soap and trashbags. I could put it in the other side. I think my next step is going to obtain and read the book to see if I can get some additional inspiration there on the matter. After that, I'll talk to her. Until then the scraps can go on the outside pile. Thanks for all the help!
I might try an outdoor one over the summer and talk her into letting me put it in the kitchen for our cold winters. I am really interested in a replacement/supplement to my garbage disposer. I like the convenience of having it as near the source as possible. Scraps go in daily as generated. Occasionally it gets full and needs emptied. I've heard many good things about Appelhof's book over the years, but haven't read it myself. If there is one thing my wife likes less than worms, its reading things I suggest for her. As much as I hear about the book I'm getting closer to caving in and reading it myself. I bet I learn something from it. Thanks Brenda and Dave for the great suggestions.
I'd like to sell the idea of a kitchen vermicomposter to my wife. However, I know forehand that she hates worms. I also know that a properly established and maintained bin is sanitary and smells good. But how would I convince her of that? I plan on doing all the work. She doesn't even have to add scraps. Any ideas on helping her over her fear. Has anyone else dealt with this before?
I can't see it either. I didn't notice before. But from the pic, one could be modeled after it. My thought is a similar design with the same dowel stock acting in place of the aluminum cross members and have the stringers lashed to the top of the cross members with twine or leather or whatever you have available. Similar to a raft, but more sparse. A couple of pulleys, a cleat and rope to complete the ensemble.
paul wheaton wrote: As more time passes, the less I like the idea of using commercial compost. I would much rather come up with other ways.
I'm with you on that point. I selected a local landscape company that composts its own waste, mostly tree and shrub trimmings, and its rejected flora from its nursery. It is only a couple of miles from me, and the price is good at $40 for 2 cubic yards. I am building a nice size compost pile with some scrap lumber in the backyard, near my garden. I already have some first season leaf mold from the fall, and some grass clippings I bagged last week, (dandelion seed harvest.) I did decide to get lazier on the backyard and be more patient. I'll use what's left of this load of compost on the front yard and be done with it. I'm scaling back there too. I'm just going to fill in where the stump and roots were and top dress the rest. If I have some left over, I'll do some more post holes in the back. I'm trying to talk the wife into a small vermicomposter in the kitchen. She hates worms with a passion, so we'll see.
paul wheaton wrote: Considering your knowledge level, I wouldn't be making guesses about alkaline soil until you've read at least 20 soil analysis reports! Get a test!
I already have the samples bagged to be sent this week. Being Indiana, and our abundance of limestone from being the former ocean floor, it is a well funded guess. Quarries are almost as abundant as corn and soy. But as you said, it is still just a guess. If I'm wrong, I'll at least be rid of some evergreen trimmings and have some extra OM in the soil.
paul wheaton wrote: Maple stump: lucky you! I'm thinking that you should make it into a planter - or maybe grow some mushrooms on it!
Alas it is dead center of my small front yard, in a HOA, and I'm trying to help the next door neighbor sell their house, to avoid foreclose for them and a second vacant house next to me. So the stump will go. But... I did save the trunk and branches and will be using the wood for various projects. I may do that with the trunk. I won't be offsite disposing of the grindings. I'll find a good use for them. Compost, mulch, and post holes and such.
paul wheaton wrote: Attach pics! I wanna see! I want reports!
Let's see if we can get you the best lawn in the neighborhood. We can try to shoot for the monoculture look if you really want, but I would like to suggest the meadow look with wildflowers and yarrow and all sorts of interesting things that will make for something far more beautiful.
I need to get some batteries for the camera. Hopefully I'll find my rechargeables. I'll keep tabs on the current holes, and get some photos of the process and materials on subsequent holes. There is a failed swale along the rear of the yard that stays swampy even several days after a stiff rain. I plan on putting a few back there to help loosen up the ground and hopefully get it loosened up and draining eventually. I'm building a fence soon, and plan on doing some practice with the power auger before doing the actual fence. I'll get some overall before and progress photos of the entire yard as well.
I'm not really into the monoculture look, but I do want to get the lawn looking its best while I shrink it and place more landscape that is resourceful. I want to get the front lawn up to looking status quo to build some confidence in the neighbors, and hopefully turn them onto a new way of doing things. I plan on putting out a small sign declaring the lack of chemicals used in the yard. I do like your ideas for yarrow, roman chamomile, and the rest. That is part of my plan. I don't think anyone in the neighborhood will object to what I have envisioned. I'm looking in the direction of The Dervaes of Pasadena, but still have some lawn for the dogs. Our property is about the same size as theirs, but odd shaped being on a cul-de-sac. I just discovered their site from a link elsewhere in this forum, and I love it. So the lawn will shrink as other things grow. Thanks for the site and this forum! It is very inspirational.
I'd be careful. I'm a mechanic in a fleet shop. We get 55ga. plastic drums of windshield washer fluid. One of our guys thought they'd make a great planter for tomatoes. Even after washing them out, he said his tomatoes tasted like washer fluid. Chemicals can and do leech in and out of plastic. I'd be wary, even for non-potable use, depending on the use. Even for emergencies, is it worth the contamination issues? Just my 2 bits.
My dandelions really like my lawn. I like dandelions, but not this many. I know I have alkaline soil. My neighbors recently trimmed their over grown evergreen shrub (juniper or cypress of some sort judging by the needles.) I offered to dispose of the cuttings. My question is since I've shredded the trimmings, would it be wise to sprinkle the shredded needles and smaller branches around the lawn to help mitigate the alkalinity, and introduce organic matter into the silty clay. Should I wait a year for them to brown? Or should I add them to the compost pile? Or plant something that loves acid and mulch it with the trimmings?
What kind of batteries are used in those electric mowers? What kind of toxic waste program is necessary to properly dispose of them? Were you just planning on throwing it in the landfill when it stopped working and couldn't be repaired or needed a new battery? Shame on you! For both plug-in and battery mowers, how much electricity does it take to power/recharge it? How much extra electricity is actually produced at the plant to make up for the losses due to line resistance between you and the plant? Even hooked up to solar/wind, you'd need a fairly hefty battery system to properly power a mower. A battery system that will eventually need to be disposed of as toxic waste. I'll keep my dino burner. Its side effects are about the same level as electric, imo. Cheaper TCO for gas as well, considering the initial cost of equivalent electric or gas mowers. On the plus side, it doesn't add strain to an already overburdened electric grid. A grid which is mostly powered by coal, nuclear, and man made dams. What I'd like to see is small diesels become ubiquitous enough to become viable/cheap for mower use and run them on biodiesel. I am considering purchasing a push reel, but that is an expense that will have to wait, as I have a perfectly good and paid for gas burner. Btw... my current mower is a 4hp high wheel, 3-in-1 mulch, rear bag, side discharge. As I'm currently dealing with dandelions, the bagger is great for containing the seed heads, which I'm feeding to the compost pile. I use the mulch setting to keep clippings from spraying everywhere, like the garden and shrub beds. I know they don't really hurt too much, but I like it that way.
I'm also amazed sometimes how even for all my weeds, my lawn can look better than the weed free chemlawn neighbor's after they scalp their grass down to 1 1/2"-2". I'll take 3" weeds before brown grass any day.
My Ace HW can't get Ringer. I'll take a look-see if any DIBs can get it here in Central Indiana. I haven't seen Ringer here, so I've started using Scott's Organic stuff that seems similar in ingredients, texture and smell as what Paul described Ringer. I can't think of any reason not to use Scott's, except for their other other distasteful products.
My name is Jeremiah. I recently found the site and have begun working the ideas into my yard. I've known about and have been practicing the mow high technique for years. This is me and my wife's first house, which we bought in Jan. 08. The house was a foreclosure (read as 'neglected') and is in a nice HOA governed neighborhood. The front and back yards are mainly dandelions and clover, with some other weeds and grass here and there. Last year I was working full time and school full time, yet the wifey demanded I do something about the weeds. I didn't have time to research, or even really implement a plan. I defaulted, with a cringe, to Weed'n'Feed. I followed the directions on the package and the result was some slightly happier appearing grass and some sad, reddened weeds. The weeds recovered several weeks after treatment. I now had my "told you so" case for the wife, who now shares my sentiments on "Big Chem." I stopped the chemical treatment before any lasting harm could be done. I've concluded that I'm dealing with alkaline soil with low nitrogen, based on the dandies and clover. The soil here is silty clay, with hard clay starting about a foot down. As per standard development regimens, the topsoil had been totally stripped (house built in 1995, soil is starting to get a bit better and has a healthy colony of Fernandos.) Our side yard is healthy grass with a few beautiful dandies here and there. The front yard is rather smallish, and currently sports the stump of an overgrown maple, and some dug up areas where I manually removed high running maple roots (I actually find the labor therapeutic and relaxing.) The stump is scheduled to be ground out later this week by yours truly. My plan for the front yard is to remove the stump waste and roto-hoe the soil and work in some compost (commercial acidic/woody type) to about 4-6 in. Then I will level the grade slightly as there are some weird dips and humps. I plan on seeding with a tall fescue, (I'm in central Indiana.) I've already done a couple of your post-hole fills in front as well. The backyard plan is simply to top dress with the same compost mentioned above, and fertilize. I'm using Scott's Organic Choice, derived from: hydrolyzed feather meal, meat meal, bone meal, blood meal, and sulfate of potash; 11-2-2 analysis. I'd use Ringer if I could find it locally or free shipping at standard product prices. But the Scott's stuff seems okay, and looks and smells the way you describe the Ringer stuff. I spread it for the first time yesterday, so I'll see how it goes. The norm for the neighborhood is well groomed and relatively weed-free yards with a few highly contrasting weedy yards for good measure. I plan on fitting in with the norm, but also be the first on the block to do it without the icky stuff. I'm currently between two chemically-altered lawns, one of which is uphill and upstream of us on the watertable. After a very heavy spring rain, you can still hear the water flowing underground for a day or two. I dread to think about how much chemical runoff is flowing through my ground.