Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Green Gardening

I know, I know. It sounds like an oxymoron. But it really is a goal of mine. Thus the composting, thus the multiple visits to local nurseries to pick brains, ask questions, etc.

But right now we are on Lawn Implementation 2008 - which is the culmination of Lawn Quest 2008. I was searching for a grass that would grow under our wild temperature extremes - 40s to 120s. We don't get many cold temperatures, certainly not for weeks in a row. But we do get hot temperatures for weeks, months in a row. What other climates call summer we call Spring. The only area in the country that is hotter is Death Valley! But lawn we must because children need. So, what I gathered during Lawn Quest 2008 was that in order to have an efficient water use lawn is that you need several things: a deep root system; and efficient watering system whereby you can water without waste for longer periods thus encouraging the deep rooting; thick blade that can withstand the heat and will grow longer in summer to protect the root; and - here's the kicker - I DID NOT want to lawn scalp or as some people say 'reseeding'. But it is really not as lovely a process as 'reseeding; sounds.

Let me describe: In September or early October you stop watering your grass for about a week to ten days. Then, once it is completely dead, your gardener or yourself puts your lawn mower on the lowest setting, set to dig if possible, and you lop off the head and shallow root of the entire grass system, kicking up the worst possible dust cloud you can imagine and all the pollen, fertilizer you have put on the lawn all year and (if you garden really evil) herbicide to kill the grass before this process. Thus the term 'scalping'. It is really awful, what the hubby and I call Migraine Season. Worse than Spring, worse than pollen alone. Imagine pollen, mixed with the finest of sand - whioh our 'dirt' really is here in the desert - mixed with chemicals and whatever desicated bug juice and parts got swept up in the process. Now just imagine this fine particulate floating around the Coachella Valley that is shaped like a giant bowl - kind of like Mexico City - catching and holding in all this particulate. It gets everywhere, your car, your clothes, in your house, in your lungs! Indeed awful.

So, even though I only have 900 sq ft of grass I did not want to add to this process. (BTW just FYI there are over 120 golf courses in this valley ALL scalping, so when I say I am making a small impact I am exaggerating really, I am making a minute impact) I found what, hopefully, will be the best, albeit not prettiest, solution. See, my theory is that everyone here wants their lawn to look like the golf course. But you pay the scalping price. I just want lawn that will thrive during Fall, Winter and most of Spring, and survive the summer - because really in 110 degree heat the kids are not romping on the lawn.

We went to Earth Day at our local zoo and spoke to the water district and they told us about the most efficient sprinklers on the market. We asked our gardener, Jose, to put them in. It was the first time he had used them, they are so new. So impressed with their efficiency he says he wants to put them in his own lawn! Then this weekend we sent Jose's son off to collect the sod on Saturday. Saturday afternoon, temperatures reaching 113 degrees in Palm Springs Airport where they measure, Jose and his guys install. Not the best time to lay down sod on the hottest of days but what are ya gonna do. The weather often does not cooperate.

So far it is still more green than brown although there are patches that are failing, not getting enough water. The hubby is home babysitting it since he is currently jobless and making sure it gets added water as needed. The meteorologists promise temps will fall to the 80s in the next seven days.

Hang on grass!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Toy Season

It is our toy season number 1. Our second toy season of the year is, of course, Christmas. But come May and June we have two birthdays. The upside of birthdays a month apart is that you get them (i.e. party planning) over with and don't have to dread for months another one approaching. The downside is that because they are so close together there tends to be (and don't ask me why because I would have to admit to my bad parenting skills) more toy purchases. And we all know that with toy purchases comes trash.

So, what to do with cardboard that is covered with pieces of tape and plastic bits? It is the juice box dilemma all over. Technically, not recycleable. But practically, come on, shouldn't it be? But who wants to sit on the kitchen floor and peel all the tape off cardboard? I understand that packaging is now meant to be theft proof (and rough sea journey from China proof as well, no doubt) but do they really need THAT much tape and invisible rubberbands, and plastic covered wire holding pieces in, and plastic anchors? Each toy brings along 20 pieces of trash!

Who wants to write a letter to China asking if they can make all those pieces recyleable with me?