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Morning workout - Peter Hentges

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April 8th, 2006


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03:40 pm - Morning workout
It's a nice day in Minneapolis. Sunny and 50s. I took this opportunity to remove big chunks of last year's growth from my gardens. My gardens are mostly perennials so this is an annual occurrence but since the big plantings are my prairie garden, this is the biggest chunk of work I'll have to put into them all year.

I was torn between feeling like I was too late in doing this and feeling like I was just in time. Below my picture window, the daffodils, irises and sedums are already growing well. Unfortunately, so is the quack grass. I clearing things out around the former and tore the rhizomes of the latter out of the loose mix of mulch and dirt that they burrowed through.

Next I turned my attention to the prairie garden. Last year, I took the string trimmer to the bunch of it, but we didn't have much in the way of snowfall last year. This year heavy snow came late and that left some of the prairie grasses flattened to the ground. Or so it seemed to look at. As I took a pair of hedge trimmers to the plot, running them into the masses of dried up grass at ground level, I discovered that the straw-like stems of the big and little bluestem grasses stuck straight up for an inch or so before being bent over from the weight of March's snow.

Trust a few thousand year's of evolution to select species that do what they are supposed to in order to survive a variable Minnesota climate. In the wild, previous year's growth would be removed by periodic fires. So having the burnable portion off the ground an inch or so protects the valuable roots.

The other thing that was heartening to see was that, while the quack grass was making invasions on the edges of the garden plot, the middle was free of any sort of unauthorized growth. A few times, when the quack grass was making particularly strong in-roads, its rhizomes were diverted around the clump-forming prairie grasses. The prairie is doing exactly what it's supposed to.

Other things learned: the prairie smoke is well into its spring growth, bergamot and anise hyssop smell lovely when you're chopping up their dried remains, the hyssop has lovely little purple foliage when it's starting its spring growth.

So a few hours of working at that left me sweaty, dirty and tired. I also came up with a great response for when someone asks you why you are exhibiting the obvious signs of a recent injury: I had an accident with a farm implement. (Mine resulted in nothing more than what is essentially a paper cut. Nice to know one's tools are sharp.)

I've now showered and am ready for a nap. I think I've earned it.

My Dad--Paul Westerberg--Folker
Current Mood: calmcalm
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