Monday, May 10, 2010

Get green grass without the guesswork by Jody Headlee

Get green grass without the guesswork
Jody Headlee is a contributing columnist for The Oakland Press.

    The mowing season is here. If you want your lawn to stand out as perfect as one pictured on the cover of an unopened bag of grass seed, you will stand a better chance if you routinely change your mowing pattern.
    By mowing east and west this week and north and south next, you will distribute the traffic so the wear and tear on the lawn itself will be more uniform.
    Alternating the mower’s tracks ever other week also eliminates high and low spots often created by following the same pattern week after week.
    It is also vital to keep the mower’s blades sharp and remember when you turn during the cutting, try to use the driveway or sidewalk. Turning with the mower running can all too often skin the grass right down to the soil line, interfering with the classic look of perfection you are seeking.
    Also important, make sure your lawn receives enough water to keep it healthy and strong. The time of day is not important, as long as you comply with your community’s regulations. Because of area water situations, some insist that automatic watering systems have their timers set to operate at night or in the wee hours of the early morning.
    Don’t forget, more water is lost to evaporation if it is applied during the heat of the day. A weekly dousing is adequate if the roots are thoroughly drenched, a method far more beneficial to the health of your lawn than scattered light sprinklings.
    If a rolling green is important, lawn specialists suggest that you chose a seed that will adapt well to the type of lawn you intend to grow.
    If you favor the creeping bent of a putting green, tall fescue seeds will not fill the bill. They do far better when used to establish an athletic field.
    Then there is rye grass seed, good as a quick cover to prevent erosion, as well as a host of other seeds just waiting for your attention.
    Do your homework and find out which one is best for you.
    It will save you a lot of elbow grease and anxiety as you work toward that lawn that looks so perfect – in picture books.
    With all of us being encouraged to think and eat green, you might be tempted to tackle Brussels sprouts.
    If you do, remember this suggestion from oldsters; remove the plants’ lower leaves. It will allow the sprouts more room to develop. Just do not remove too many.
    Plants need leaves to manufacture the food that will help them develop full maturity.
    While we are thinking about growing our own vegetables, I would like to warn you about the blossom-end-rot of tomatoes.
    While it is not a disease, it can wreak havoc when you are waiting to harvest Americans’ favorite home-grown salad treat.
    It is a physiological condition related to a calcium deficiency in the veggie and the only cure is to avoid extreme fluctuations in the soil’s moisture.
    Should you see a small, dark blemish on the blossom end of a tomato, you could be in for trouble.
    As the spot grows, it will become tough and leathery.
    Should a bacteria or fungal rot decide to pay a visit, the whole tomato could be a goner.
    As long as none stop by, your tomato crop is safe. To correct the infraction, simply cut the end away and use the firm flesh of the tomato’s upper portion.
    To try and avoid the situation, mulch the crop. That simple step will do much to help the ground moisture remain constant and your tomato harvest healthy.

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