What Is The Grass…

Newsletter 61 – April 26, 2024

Hi,

Grass grows. Unfortunately. Mowing season started early for me this year (on February 28th, to be specific). In 2021 my first mowing was on May 8th, In 2022 on April 15th, and in 2023 it was on March 20th. It’s been getting earlier every year. Global warming? Yes, probably.

Mowing is one of my least favorite chores, so I typically wait until the weeds get so high I can’t stand it. At that point I pull up the most obvious weeds, the ones that are riding above the grass and cutting it off from sunlight. Then I buy some Scotts Turf Builder (which is a slow-release weed killer and lawn fertilizer), mow the whole lawn, and then apply the Turf Builder. When I’m finished, the weeds are still visible but are the same height as the grass. It will take two or three more mowings for the weeds to disappear completely (if I’m lucky).

The season has also tended to last longer each year. My final mow last year was on September 28th, since I mow roughly once every two weeks, that would mean about a 30 week season (or 15 times I will have to mow this year). Fortunately, I was able to ditch my knee immobilizer on February 6th, three weeks before I had to mow. Mowing has been hard for me the last few years, partly because of my health, but also because of the monstrous, humid heat we experience here in Southeast Texas (45 days of 100° F. or higher between June 2nd and September 8th in 2023 — we hit 109° twice, both times in August). By the time we get to June, I have to mow in shifts. I trim and edge the whole yard first, then take a break inside. Then I mow the front yard. If I’m feeling okay I’ll go ahead and mow the back yard then too. If not, I’ll take another break between mowing the front and back. I’m usually completely wiped out afterward, not good for anything the rest of the day. I’m not twenty anymore. 😊

The one nice thing about mowing this year is that I’ve gone full electric on my equipment. I did have a small electric mower years ago but its battery wasn’t up to mowing even a yard as small as ours, which meant having two batteries available each time. Also, the batteries didn’t charge well, usually didn’t last more than one season, and were expensive to replace. After a couple of years I went back to using a gas mower, even though I hated to. For the past six years or so, though, I have been using a 40-volt battery-operated Expand-It motor system by Ryobi that allows the attachment of various tools. So, I use the string trimmer on the motor shaft to trim the grass along the edge of flower beds and along the side of the house, etc. When I’m done with that I swap the trimmer head for an edger tool to cut the grass vertically along the edges of my sidewalk and driveway. Earlier this year I discovered that Ryobi made a self-propelled electric lawn mower that runs on the same batteries as its Expand-It system. Having already used their batteries for several years I knew that they would last for a long time, and the self-propelled feature on the mower has made the mowing much easier. And I’m now running pollution free.

My gas mower was still in reasonable shape, so I posted a quick notice on the Nextdoor app, saying that I would give it away to the first comer. It was gone within a few hours, so I’m not personally polluting with it anymore, but I do feel a little guilty about it still polluting anyway, out there somewhere nearby.

The next newsletter will be a quick update on the medical issues I mentioned above.

See you then.

Michael

[“A child said What is the grass?
   Fetching it to me with full hands;
How could I answer the child?
I do not know what it is any more than he.”
Walt Whitman, Song of Myself, 1855.]

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