We here at Native Landscaping are rather anti-lawns. Lawn maintenance requires an enormous amount of resources and causes a lot of pollution. From fertilizer run-off in to the waterways, noise pollution and exhaust from mowers, lawns really do demand a lot, and a lot of time. We have "grass" here but it is a mixture of a variety of things, not just fescue or bluegrass.
The kind of grass we do like? No, not that kind. We like native prairie grasses that can be added to your landscape to create attractive places for wildlife like birds to hang out as well as provide some pretty interesting screening around your property. Best part? You DON'T need to mow it.
Big Bluestem is one of those grasses. If you're a scientist, you might know it by the name Andropogon gerardii. If you're not, you might know it by its more common name, Turkey Foot Grass or as Big Bluestem. It has this name because during the spring, the grass' stem is in the blue-green spectrum but as the weather turns hot, switches to green-red then to red as the weather turns cool. That's fun!
Know what else is cool? The flower and seed heads. They come out in late summer and are 3-parted and spread like the foot of a turkey, reaching a top height of 8' in moist soils. Grass is a little shorter in dryer soils. The other awesome thing is that this grass has a great, extensive root system which makes it really good for erosion control.
So that hill that has grass on it that you think you might kill yourself on because you'll slip and fall and get run over by your own mower? Nah, call us, we'll remove that turn, plant some Turkey Foot Grass and not only will you not have to mow it, but it will look awesome. Problem solved!
(And as always, I humbly thank the Missouri Botanical Garden for their awesome pictures. The close-up of the seed head is from The College of DuPage.)
I got a little sidetracked, I (Holly) had a final exam. Let's talk tomatoes. Everyone loves to grow them and it is very satisfying to see them out there in the yard, doing what they do. What isn't satisfying is to go out there and see some fruit with a black patch on the bottom.
<cue the sad trombone>
This is called blossom end rot and it isn't a disease but rather a physiologic problem with the plant: It isn't uptaking calcium correctly.
"WHY!?" I hear you cry as you drop to your knees and shake your fists at the heavens...
There are several reasons but the most common ones for around here are cool temps in the soil and inconsistent watering.
I know that for those who aren't garden tinkerers, knowing when and how much to water is one of those things that probably kills more plants than anything else. When do you water? How much do you water? And how do you water?
First, tomatoes don't want to be stressed. Don't let them get too dry. If you can stick your finger into the soil and it's bone dry more than a 1/2" down, it probably needs water. If you can't stick your finger in the soil because it is too hard and packed... Yeah, it needs water. Leaf droop, wilted looking ... all of that means it needs water. BUT you don't want to water it too much either. Stress is stress.
If you are growing in pots, try not to fuss too much. Make sure the pot is plenty big with great soil and a tomato focused fertilizer, if you can.
Here's the kicker: provide the plant with bio-available calcium when you plant it in its spot for the summer. You can also provide this to cabbages, peppers and berry plants, too.
I have some pulverized sterilized homemade eggshell powder to give with each tomato plant sold. Not that much is actually required!
(btw: photo credit to the Missouri Botanical Garden. They are great. Their stuff is more technical and I use it for research. They have a wonderful photo database. No name credited to the specific photo so to whoever: thanks!)