Posted in Great Outdoors

Grassroots Movement

Last year at this time, I might have added “I can’t grow grass” to my list of can’ts.  You might have read a post I published way back when I started this blog, In Lawns as in Life, about my trials of lawn ownership.  Over this past summer, I read The Organic Lawn Care Manual by Paul Tukey and learned a lot.

Cover of "The Organic Lawn Care Manual: A...

The previous owner of my home used a lawn service, which is basically junk food for your grass.  It keeps it green and looking good, but underneath, it is sick and weak.  Once I took it off of that service, it didn’t have anything to fall back on.

Even worse, I threw some more chemicals on it without knowing what I was doing.  I burnt it out.  The soil eroded and the weeds found some awesome hard, lifeless gravel in which to germinate.  No matter how much I watered, it was a losing battle.

The brown eventually disappeared, but what was left was very weedy.  Early last spring, Bubba and I tossed some seed on it, as a start — I had only begun to read the book, and knew I was done throwing chemicals on my lawn.  The seed germinated and did thicken what grass was left.  I kept reading.

In September , I chose a patch — the worst patch — in the middle of a thriving crop of Creeping Charlie.  I took my metal garden rake to break through what soil was there.  As the vines of Charlie caught in the tines, I pulled up as much as I could.  I know there are still plenty of nodes that have broken off and are waiting to propagate next spring, but the hope is that I am making an environment that is less comfortable for them.

Next, I opened up four bags of good organic
compost I had purchased from my garden supply store.  Using my rake, I spread them out evenly to the depth of about an inch to and inch and a half.  I then spread a nice mixture of seed over the top.  By a mixture, I mean that your grass seed has to have a mixture of spreading and clumping type grasses.  It makes for a diverse community, which all work together to make a healthy lawn.  Of course Paul Tukey states it much better in his book.  If I could communicate it as well as he did, I would have written my own book!  So read his book if you really want to know what I’m talking about.

I used my garden rake to incorporate them lightly into the compost and watered religiously — and I’m not a religious person, so that is saying a lot!  In a week to ten days, my little grass babies were popping their heads up toward the sun.  It was perfect grass weather this fall — wet and cool.  Never one to think what I’m doing at the time is of any importance, I am sorry to say that I didn’t take any photos of the process.

Now I am here to say that I CAN grow grass.  Already I wish that spring was here so that I could check in on my little patch to see how it weathered the winter.

DSCN1843The idea is to stop feeding the grass, and to start feeding the soil.  There is still raking to be done, and next spring my little patch will receive another dose of compost.

It is important to note that Creeping Charlie has many culinary and medicinal uses.  In my midwest suburban neighborhood it can also be used to piss off your neighbors, which I am not inclined to do.  And so I will continue to battle the

I really don’t want a whole yard of grass which requires so much of our good water to be poured out on the lawn.  But it is good to know that I can grow grass, and do it without chemicals, in a few places where I would really like it.

Peace . . .