Thursday, August 30, 2007

Growing Grass the Ted Way

"What is so important about watering?" you ask. "Everything"! Here at our old cemetery we are slowly running out of room for graves and so we get creative about getting more grave sites so we grow them. Our cemetery, in 1843 was laid out in a grid or grave plots holding 12 to 16 graves with each row two plots wide or 40' wide and about 300 feet long, bounded on each side by a road called a carriage path. Today cemeteries are laid out with roads hundreds of feet apart as they found that there was little use for such close roads and it was a maintenance headache. We are slowly removing those roads and converting them to grave sites and prolonging the life of our cemetery. Over the years these carriage paths have been pounded down, first by the wagons and carriages that traversed them and now by trucks and cars. First we must bring them up to the grade of the surrounding land so they no longer look like roads. We use the excess dirt and gravel from excavating graves for burials to do this. After the gravel is leveled and compacted we bring in about 6" of topsoil, level, compact, seed and cover the future graves with mulch. We use Scotts seed and their mulch product which contains more seed, starter fertilizer and chewed up paper dyed green. The mulch provides a very important benefit in that it holds the moisture and also provides shade for the new germinating seeds.

The first picture is day #5 after planting and it is a huge relief when you see that. The first grass seeds germinate and push up through the earth in 5 days if you do everything correct. If you don't see them in five days it probably means you have not been keeping things wet and the grass seeds are dying. That happens to me a lot because of the demands of the job and sometimes we just can't get back to water. New grass requires to or three trips back, with the garden hose, each day to be successful. Sometimes we have to rely on mother nature to supply water to the newly seeded graves but rarely does that happen. Just because the little shoots of green show you have grass growing does not mean you can stop watering. More seeds, different varieties and depth are still germinating and still need just as much water for at least another week. The second picture is of the same area but on day four and you can see in the background that we are also working on the continuation of that road for more graves. This area will hold about fifty graves and the next area will hold about 150 graves. It took about 30 minutes to water this road 2 to 3 times a day. The next road will require about an hour and 15 minutes each time. Time to get my grandson Sam on the payroll for some money towards extra games for his Wii. Thought you might be interested!

The secret to this process is water, water and more Water!!! You don't want to flood those little seeds but if you don't keep them damp, they DIE. Our topsoil is Brown when dry but it is Dark Brown when it is damp. We keep it Dark Brown and we always send it to bed at night dark brown cause overnight is when the grass grows and to grow it needs water. My last tip is do not fertilize, do not put down a crab grass killer. A little bit of starter fertilizer [the bag must say STARTER Fertilizer] is OK but fertilizers usually have other ingredients such as weed killer [Scotts Plus for example] and this kills the tiny, tender shoots of grass. Read the bag!! So ends Ted's secretes to a new lawn!

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