I'm not sure where that expression originated, but it
definitely applies to this Spring! Farmers have had few
opportunities to plow their fields, even if they aren't under water.
This is one of the wettest Springs in memory, perhaps in history.
Severe flooding in the midwestern US is a real tragedy.
Pittsburgh area, already known for its wet springs, is 6½-inches
above normal rainfall for the year.
Most homeowners have been struggling to keep their lawns mowed this
spring. So what can you do to ease your lawn mowing problems?
Bob's Top 5 mowing tips...
The first is to wait until late-May to
fertilize your lawn.
This will mean not getting your crabgrass control applied in a
timely fashion (since crabgrass germinates when Forsythia blossoms
drop) but crabgrass control may not be necessary after having years
of a "crabgrass free" lawn. There are some products available for
treating crabgrass without also fertilizing your lawn.
Grass comes out of winter 'charged up' and 'ready to grow,' so an
application of nitrogen (the first number on the
fertilizer label) will
further accelerate your lawn growth, especially if you use less
expensive 'fast release' forms of nitrogen like Urea. Guess what
most lawn care companies use? You got it. When you add extra
rainfall to quick release nitrogen, grass takes off like a rocket!
Not that kind of high. Set your lawnmower's cutting height all the
way up to 3-inches or more, as high as you can mow your grass
without it laying over. Some people mistakenly think that
mowing their lawn
super-short will 'stunt it' or allow them more time before the next
cut. Wrong! Any time you remove excessive top-growth from your
grass by mowing it real short, your grass shifts into high gear to
grow new blades of grass, at the expense of root growth.
As opposed to mulching or bagging your clippings, consider
discharging the clippings through the discharge chute onto the lawn.
You may have to do some raking later, but this helps avoid some of
the clogging when mowing tall, wet grass. You may also want to stop
periodically to clean the underside of the mower deck, but be sure
to follow all safety instructions while doing so. Fingers don't grow
Mowing the lawn once a week can feel like a chore, but if you
increase your mowing frequency to twice-a-week, that chore will
become much easier.
"...and it's too
wet to plow"
Bob's garden soil tips:
Wait to Rototill. Most people don't think of
soil as having "structure" but it does. The fastest way to destroy
soil structure is by rototilling your garden when the soil is too
wet. The result is hard clumps once the soil dries. (When soil
conditions are correct, it is best not to turn your soil into a
powder consistency by tilling too long)
Dirt Ball Test. There is an old standard to
see if soil is dry enough to rototill called the Dirt Ball Test.
Take a snowball size hunk of soil and form it into a dirtball. Hold
it straight out at arm's length and drop it. If the dirtball breaks
up when it hits the ground, your soil is dry enough to till. If not,
wait until it passes this simple test.
Organic Matter. By adding more organic matter
(like compost) to your garden each year, it will pass the Dirt
Ball Test earlier each Spring. Many municipalities and landscape
supply yards sell spent
leaf compost. Consider improving your garden's tilth by adding
more organic matter to the soil. When spring comes, you'll be glad
Cold surprises in May
Check your trees in Spring