Gardening is a lot like compulsive gambling. We decide to take a risk, calculate the best next move and ultimately hope for the luck of the draw.
When we lose big-time, we gamble again.
Last summer was a big disappointment for growing vegetables. I held the hose for countless hours during freakishly long heat waves, harvesting only enough food to fill my faded woven straw basket. For all that effort, I could have done something useful, including chatting with people at the farmers market and growing zinnias.
If you had asked me in August, I would have vowed to grow only flowers and herbs in pots.
Yet, in early October I found myself in my pajamas and a raincoat, scattering lawn seed.
The grass grew and I was glad I took another chance.
Logically, I upped the ante and more grass seedlings are now on the way.
I don’t need a lawn. In fact, I wrote countless columns during the drought years about how lawns are evil and should be covered in mulch. Someday I’ll move to a new house. Bermuda grass will reach out its ugly tendrils and choke out all of my efforts from last week and last month. Yet, the fact is, I can’t help myself.
There’s nothing more beautiful than the color of new grass. The blades are fragile and remind me that each season has something that is ready to grow.
SEEDS FOR ALL SEASONS
When I sat down with Mark Carlson and his wife, Linda, recently, I decided to gather some lawn-growing tips.
This is the right season, they confirmed, as rains will replace the need to water newly-sown seeds several times a day. However, when it’s not raining, you’ll need to keep the soil moist or prepare to start again.
While we can’t control the weather, Linda advised never to water a lawn at night. Sitting in water encourages lawn disease, she explained.
“Would you put your baby to bed in a wet diaper every night,” Linda said, quoting advice she has learned along the way. Humidity is the same stuff that leads to athletes foot, Mark said, adding even more color to our conversation.
Also, you’re fighting against nature if you try to grow grass under trees, Mark continued. Shade isn’t the place for turf and the trees are bigger and grab the nutrients they need, leaving little for the lawn.
Mark, who has worked in landscaping for most of his adult life, said I can continue scattering lawn seed now through December.
Even as I collected expert advice that day, I knew my yard will never look like the Carlson’s. If they strung up a thousand twinkling lights, you could blink and think you were at Tavern on the Green (In New York City Central Park). I’ll be content if I have fewer bald spots in the yard when the freakishly hot weather returns. That’s just as well because I can plant more seed next year and renew my love affair with new grass.
Garden enthusiast Heather Hacking can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. For snail mail, P.O. Box 5166, Chico CA 95927.