Thursday, May 5, 2011

Off With Their Heads!!!

I wouldn't say I'm an organic gardener, but I do garden "organicish."   On my vegetables and herbs I totally avoid any non-organic pesticides and herbicides (although I am a huge fan of Miracle Grow fertilizer which is non-organic).  

With the lawn, flower gardens etc. my goal is to be as organic as possible, although if I get some really nasty rust or fungus, etc. running rampant through the garden that doesn't respond to organic remedies, I have been known to resort to an Ortho fix.   I also sheepishly admit to using Round-Up to kill the weeds in the cracks in my walkways and driveway.

As anyone with a lawn knows, Dandelions are one of those quandary weeds.   You have to admit that the flowers are kind of pretty and cheerful, and if they would only contain themselves, I'd happily host a few plants in my lawn.

But it's that containment issue that presents a problem when it comes to Dandelions.   Left undisturbed, dandelions are kind of like the Napoleons or Hitlers of the weed world.   They'll attempt to take over your entire yard if you let them.

Now, because I garden "organicish" I don't like to use weed-killers.   However, I do try to control the dandelions I have from reproducing. 

There's an old garden saying that "one year of seed means seven years of weed."  In other words, if you let a weed go to seed, you increase your weeding exponentially.   So while those yellow disks are kind of pretty and sunny, once they turn into those big, white billowy balls of seed, you have a problem.

So, my methodology of dealing with dandelions is rather simple--I contain them.   First, I encourage my daughter to "pick the pretty flowers" for Mommy, but making a big deal of any bouquets she brings to me and putting them in a vase.  A bunch of dandelions in a small vase is actually rather pretty.

I also work to eliminate the plants themselves whenever I can.   Years ago, I found this great weeding tool called  "Weed Hound."  It has a long handle and works by you stepping on it to pull the weed out.  You don't have to bend over so it's somewhat relaxing to walk around the yard yanking the dandelions out of the lawn.  In the Spring and Summer I'm often out once or twice a week walking around the yard "Weed Hounding" the dandelions out of the lawn.

Additionally, I often find that the weekly lawn-mowing helps contain the Dandelions.   Just as their big sunny heads emerge, along comes the lawn-mower to lop them off.

Right now, here in South-Eastern Connecticut, we're in prime Dandelion season.   They seem to come out in full force all at once.   In particular, my property fronts a state highway, and since we're on nearly two acres, I have a very long, narrow strip of property between the highway and my property fence in which pretty much nothing but dandelions can survive and on Monday that strip was a sea of yellow.

So, you can imagine how happy I was when my lawn mowing service came on Monday to mow the lawn, and the dandelion flowers out of existence.  But there was a problem.  The lawn-mowing service forgot to mow the dandelion sea by the highway.

Faced with the prospect of potentially billions of white, fluffy dandelion seeds wafting over the fence into my lawn, vegetable and flower gardens, I knew I had to take immediate action.

So Tuesday afternoon I headed off to the tool shed where I keep my cordless weed-whacker.  That afternoon I spent 45 minutes going from one end of the dandelion sea to the other, diligently lopping off the head of each and every dandelion until all that was left was a field of green studded with decapitated yellow disks.

Throughout the task, I kept telling myself that not only was I doing my garden good, but I was doing myself good as well.     According to this calorie calculator I burned approximately 257 calories saving my yard from dandelion decimation.  

And, that's the same with any garden chore.  When you garden you move and when you move you burn calories and when you burn calories you lose weight. 

So I guess calling them gardening "chores" is kind of a misnomer.  Maybe I should call them "health club alternative exercises" instead.

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