The Squire likes squill
After a winter’s hibernation, lawn mower started on the first pull yesterday 05-06-22. Ought to, the Toro is less than a year old.
Fret not, No Mow May mavens, the unlettered field hands at Blaska Experimental Farm (and Penal Colony) fired up the hydrocarbon-burning device only to macerate the pile of swamp white oak leaves (which shed in spring) from the back yard. The resource was then applied to the woodland shade area, where the bloodroot is in full bloom and trillium about to, and to the clayey potato field yearning for organic matter.
As for No Mowing in the 24 days remaining in the merry month of May, the Head Groundskeeper is keeping his options open. The front, north-facing lawn, bitter experience teaches, refuses to become country club fairway turf. No amount of soil amendments, regular aeration, and visits from men bearing spray nozzles will change its mind. We yield, therefore, to its dictates. A year ago, we socked in micro- Dutch white clover and it seems to be happy. (“Our lawn just got interesting.“) Its deep roots fix its own nitrogen and aerate the soil. Last fall, introduced Siberian squill under the heavy shade of the red maples. Their white and purple flowers brightened our April. Leaves are grass-like blades. Better than bare spots.
The Minnesota university extension has issued a jihad against scilla siberica. It’s invasive! But so is turf grass. In any event, it is bounded by the street and two driveways; bees already proving its worth. Wisconsin cooperative extension is more favorable. Wood violets are naturalizing on their own. “Naturalizing” is the positive spin on “invasive.” Not seeing much of the ajuga reptans we introduced. Like most front lawns, ours is not a playground, so wear and tear doesn’t factor.
We have no problem sprinkling a little commercial nitrogen as well as Milorganite. We watch our NPK. The soil test report just back from UW Cooperative Extension ($15 a pop) says our phosphorous at 41 ppm is right in the desired range of 25 to 50. (In any event, clean lakes legislation prohibits its application for all but newly planted lawns.) But the potassium (initial K or potash) is off the charts at 138 parts per million, well above the 40 to 80 recommended. We will apply no more fireplace wood ash. Soil analysis doesn’t report N, figuring lawns are always going to need more.
The Extension soil test reports 6.9% organic matter, which is most excellent. (Average is 4%.) Holds moisture, makes room for oxygen, provides nutrients, softens the soil. We mulch — even the leaves in fall by running the mower over everything several times. (Pictured here.) Easier than raking.
Blaska’s Bottom Line: Dandelions, bee-food or not, are unwelcome at the Stately Manor. We are also the sworn enemy of creeping charlie. We’re raising the mower bed up another couple notches. We’ll let you know when our grass hits the recommended four inches. We’re guessing two weeks, given temperatures forecast in the 80s F next week here in Madison WI.