First Garden Bounty and Tall Grass

26 Jun

I harvested three radishes from the garden Tuesday. It took 25 days to go from seed to my radish-and-butter sandwich. Been a slow start for all the gardens around here–mine’s no exception…

I finally mowed my lawn this evening. Through a series of events and decisions, it had grown pretty darn tall. Maybe For sure taller than I’d ever let it grow before. We went on vacation three weeks ago, and I hired my neighbor, who is 14, to mow my lawn and water the flowers while we were gone for 8 days. It rained most of the time we were gone, and he mowed the lawn the day we were coming home. Check that–he mowed part of the lawn. With a riding mower instead of my push mower.

[not Dylan’s riding mower]

I have nothing against riding mowers in general. I use a push mower mostly because I like getting the exercise (except when I’m actually doing the exercise). They’re a little lighter on the CO2 emissions too. I asked Dylan to use my mower because I mow my grass longer than most (3.5 to 4″), and particularly longer than my neighbors do, and he didn’t know how to adjust the deck on his dad’s mower. A little bit longer grass is better grass, especially when you don’t put any chemicals on it (I don’t). The grass stays healthier (more blade to catch more sun and dew) and it helps keep the weeds down. Besides, really short grass is in a hurry to grow up, so it can catch more sun and dew. Mow it a bit longer, and it grows more evenly and slowly. For reals.

To make a long story a little shorter, Dylan mowed my grass pretty short. And didn’t mow some of it at all. I’m grateful that he helped me out. Especially since it set me up for a couple of little experiments. I let the part Dylan missed grow for an extra week or so, until I started mowing. I got about half done and ran out of gas (and sunlight). That was last Friday, and it was overdue already (according to local norms). Then I went canoing and hiking Saturday morning and got pretty sick from my allergies, so I didn’t get back to mowing on Saturday morning.

As I was nervously looking out the window, worried about what my neighbors must be thinking about my tall grass, I noticed that some of the weeds were still taller than the grass. I decided to let if grow a few more days and test a couple of things:

  1. would it be easier to find and pull bigger weeds?
  2. would anyone complain about my lawn?

By anyone, I mean my neighbors. I put as much time into my yard and garden as most people, maybe more. But it’s not a trophy, not a way to show off, for me. Like most things for me, my yard is a little unscientific laboratory–it’s about trying to learn something. I’ve been experimenting with gardening, composting, mowing, fertilizing and weeding. This was a test of the organic and the social natures of my nieghborhood.

So, it turns out my experiment lasted even longer than I had planned. When I tried to start mowing again, my Lawn-Boy bit the dust–at least for now. I don’t know what’s wrong with it, but it sure isn’t going to cut my grass until it’s fixed. I messed with it for a couple of evenings, and then borrowed my Father-in-law’s Toro tonight. It’s all pretty and manicured now…

So, here’s the results: Letting the grass get long made pulling weeds beautiful (if pulling weeds can be beautiful, and I think it can). The thistles, which I’ve had special trouble with, grew very tall and big, so they pulled more easily without breaking off. Nearly every weed I encountered was easier to pull, and easier to find. Despite going a couple weeks in the heat with no rain, the grass stayed green and healthy (which is really something on our clay and gravel hill). And the dandelions, which have been really kicking my butt this year, were totally held in check by the longer grass. As Mesa would say, “Awe-some!”

As far as my neighbors go, nobody said ‘boo.’ This surprised me a bit. I considered making a “My lawn mower is broken” sign, but turns out nobody cared enough to give me any grief about it. I guess they’re used to weird stuff going on in the Bartmann’s yard.

Mow your grass long. (Or don’t mow it at all if you can get away with it.)


Posted by on June 26, 2008 in garden


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6 responses to “First Garden Bounty and Tall Grass

  1. joebart

    June 27, 2008 at 9:34 am

    One more unplanned benefit: since the grass was so long, I had to bag it (I usually mulch it). It made a great mulch for a new flower bed I’m making under the deck!

  2. joebart

    June 29, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Another mini-experiment: Dylan giving the lawn a low chop made it easy to test the short-grass-grows-fast-and-uneven theory. Proved it right on. Thanks Dylan.

  3. joebart

    June 29, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    Read what Corey thinks of me, the “Mowing Menace,” at Madville Times ( Here’s a quick blurb:

    “Montrose blogger and visionary Joe Bartmann committed one of the cardinal sins of town living: he let some of his grass grow for three straight weeks.”

    Menace, yes. Blogger, yes. Visionary? Very questionable…

    Thanks Corey.

  4. ranig

    June 30, 2008 at 11:11 am

    Ryan was P.O.’ed when I accidentally left the mower on the infield setting and mowed the whole lawn with it a few weeks ago. He didn’t even say thank you to me for getting my fat, pregnant, body outside and push mowing the whole yard, in the sprinkling rain, while watching three kids and making homemade deer jerky. I am all for letting it grow, believe me, I won’t be mowing again anytime soon.

  5. ranig

    June 30, 2008 at 11:22 am

    Oh, and HEY – don’t be pulling those weeds when you can eat or drink them…I’ll be over in a couple months to try some…

  6. funtimeswiththebeckers

    May 7, 2009 at 9:55 am

    that is my kind of riding lawn mower! awesome!


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