Instant Grassification

English: Orlando, FL, September 12, 2004-- Oxy...

We have decided we need more oxygen.

And we’ve decided we’re going to become Gramineae farmers.

It’s not such a big deal. Millions of folks all around the world already are, so we won’t be the first. In fact, billions of dollars are invested in this farming. Every single year. And that’s just in America. The international price tag belongs in a number category I didn’t even know existed.

At the moment we’re dirt farming. But this is what you have to do before you can go green. Our in-house chief engineer of all things that grow, Roger, has attempted to explain to me (mostly in Latin) that Earth’s soil is almost as full of supernatural magic as a David Copperfield stage show. Almost.

English: The Northwestern High School Gospel Choir

Roger can wax lyrical on the health of our “growing medium” with as much enthusiasm as a southern Baptist revival preacher in a houseful of sinners. I’m trying to keep up, but with terms like fabricating terrain and paleo farming—and it’s mind boggling how much there is to know about them—my eyes start to glaze over involuntarily. When I attempt to learn about microbial life and the immune system of grains, everyone might as well be speaking in tongues.

Soldiers of the United States Army Criminal In...

I’m totally lost.

Roger tried to have us become grass farmers from seed—the old fashioned way–but it was a year of pure embarrassment on our part. The small patch we classified as “test ground” shortly became an agricultural disaster. I’m surprised the whole area wasn’t quartered off with yellow crime scene tape because death was littered all over that lawn.

I was ready to throw in the towel. Plus, I happen to think weeds are pretty. But Sir Sackier refused to admit defeat. How typically British.

For weeks I saw him out there, marching back and forth on the dead battlefield with Roger, pointing fingers, kicking earth and crunching numbers. He’s given himself a fierce unibrow from the entire endeavor.

Roger finally put two and two together and came to the conclusion that unless he was planning to relocate for the spring, set up a tent on the porch and coax every little blade out of the earth himself, he’d best bring out plan B.

Plan B was pay to have someone else grow it, install it in the middle of the night, and then have us smile broadly and feign ignorance if anyone subsequently complimented us on our tremendous grass growing skills.  

Hey, if I’d been put in charge of lawn control, and the only requirement was that it had to be green, it would be filled with arugula. This is a plant I cannot manage to kill. In fact, nearly every morning and every evening I come out to the garden and cut back the greens that within mere hours rocket skyward in search of a better view than the vegetables beside it. The weird thing is I’m beginning to suspect that the plant has taken on new battle tactics. For each consecutive salad I’ve made these last few weeks, the arugula has been getting spicier. It’s so fire-laden, I’d compare it to a mouthful of wasabi. It literally burns your tongue. The plant insists I leave it alone. And I’m actually growing a little frightened of it.

But as a lawn, it would be abundant.

No one else wanted this. Except the dog, who apparently gives no second thought to swallowing fire. He prefers his arugula kick-ass.

So men with trucks and wheelbarrows came and installed our Instalawn, and I’m pretty sure I saw them look up at the windows of the house a few times and shake their heads.

“How hard IS it?” is what I read off the foreman’s lips. But this is what people who already have the knack for doing something always say.

I opened up the window and shouted back, “IT’S HARDER THAN YOU THINK! DON’T JUDGE ME!

And then when they all looked at one another out the corners of their eyes and the foreman pointed out a crooked section to one worker and repeated his question, I realized my error and shouted down to the sheepish fledgling with poor directional sense, “Yeah, what he said.”

That made me feel a lot better about myself.

Now that everyone’s packed up and I can leave the house again, I’m taking advantage of the extra oxygen we’ve created. I’m guessing if I do enough deep inhalations, my brain will benefit enormously—maybe even to the point that I will begin to understand some of what Roger is trying to teach me.

English: A foal wakes up after a nap in the gr...

If I inadvertently slip from wakefulness because of one too many soporific Latin terms and find myself face down in the newly planted grass, I will admit I’d had a sudden overwhelming urge to study the microbial life of our fabricated terrain.


Don’t forget to check out what’s cooking this week in the Scullery (here) and what folks are talkin’ bout down at the pub (here)!


9 thoughts on “Instant Grassification

  1. I would love to tease you and say “Oh, the shame … instant grass.”; however, fate would intervene on your behalf (I am sure) and multiply the moles and deer that view all things green around my home as “tasty”. Instead, I will take a different tack and say “way to go!” You are my hero! Thanks for sharing. Gary

    • Awfully kind of you to hold back, Gary–especially since I can feel the wind of a thousand other fingers wagging and pointing in my general direction. It’s mighty breezy up here today, but also very green. 🙂

      • You know … for the amount of money that I have spent on seed, fertilizer, lime, etc., I could have done what you did and now be enjoying a uniform, one specie non-weed, green. Oh,it’s ugly when I do the weed and feed … chuckle … the percentage of weeds is truly abysmal in certain yard sections.

        I will say though, I have finally found a workable deer repellent and it’s relatively cheap. I use one cup milk … yes, milk …(cheap Walmart whole milk seems to do great), an ounce of malathion (insecticide that smells, but is relatively harmless to humans and available most anywhere), and an ounce of some surficant (e.g. dawn dish detergent, or dedicated surficant from tractor supply, southern states, etc.) per gallon of water. I have watched deer walk brazenly up to a patch of sprayed loripe or weeping cherry, plant their nose amid the green, and then walk away without a single bite. It seems that deer and dairy don’t mix. The challenge, is to keep a layer of spray on. And of course, I think the does just wait for a rainy day like today.

        My backup deterent is paintballs. I can just see the deer gather later and in typical Farside cartoon fashion … one looks at a florescent yellow spotted friend and says … “So, I see you have been over at the Rogers’ place …”. Funny thing though, they quickly figure out the range of a paintball and promptly stop in full “dare mode”.

        Contemplating a desert landscape … but then I would receive complaints from Theo and Teddy, my two choc labs, about not having deer pellets to roll in and/or eat for breath fresheners. Just can’t win … so will have to laugh. Take care and please keep writing! Gary

  2. I can truly appreciate the milk and “other” approch, however the malathion, or organophosphate parasympathomimetic, however minimal a toxin to humans it may be rated, it has been proven that children with higher levels of organophosphate pesticide, which metabolites in their urine are more likely to have ADHD.

    Fox urine is a common anti-deer spray; however don’t spill it on yourself as, well… lets just say it’ll stay with you for awhile and sleeping on the couch may not be your best given option.

    As simple (and yes, discusting as it may be), master gardeners around the world have shared this FREE, basic and non-toxic combination to fend off most plant, vegetable and flower eatting varments for your gardens: human urine and fresh garlic. Allow it to age in a container for a few days, add to it as you use it and it will keep away the critters. (It is suggested to place it around the bottom of any plant).

    Mind you, I’d suggest creating this mixture in the privy of your own abode as if witnessed by your neighbors, it will most likely keep them away too; although perhaps that’s a bonus for some. That, and ADHD worry free!

    Love the lawn Shellbel. Where are you placing the tee off?

    My best to the family, 🙂


    • I knew a bunch of people where I grew up who used to store their own pee. I used to think it was just a weird Midwest winter pastime, but I now I’m going to pretend they were all master gardeners. Just for the sake of my own mental health.

  3. Shelley, you made me laugh! I was stupidly smiling at my iPhone in the metro when reading your post… Very enjoyable, thank you!!!

  4. Ya know Shelly – the weeds are edible too 🙂 I like the lactose intolerant deer theory. Much better than stored pee.

    • I’m with you. And thinking about it, if I place a few plates of buffalo mozzarella underneath my tomato plants and beside the basil, all I really need is to carry a small bottle of balsamic vinegar in my back pocket and I’m ready for dinner in the veggie patch. Poor deer will just have to watch from the sidelines.

Don't hold back ... Hail and Speak!

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