Thursday, 1 September 2016


Today we scrantled the long grass on the daffodil and fritillary lawns.  When I say we, I mean it was the Systems Administrator who drove the power scythe.  I raked the cut grass.  I haven't nearly finished clearing away the debris yet but the key stage has been accomplished: the long grass has been cut down (except for one bank which I always have to do with shears).  The first day of September is the earliest I think we've ever done it, but that's purely down to lack of organisation in previous years since today was none too soon.  The long grass had ceased to be a thing of ornament or beauty, so it might as well go while it's dry and before it has entirely fallen over.

The SA does not enjoy operating the scythe.  It is in fact the SA's least favourite gardening task, because it is so hard on the arms, especially as the scythe doesn't come out of gear very easily so going round corners takes a lot of physical effort.  I expect I could steer the machine, but I know I could never start it because I have never been able to get anything to go with a starting cord, beginning with outboard engines thirty years ago.  Maybe I am too short, but probably it is lack of technique.  Raking is pretty hard work though, and I spared a thought for those intellectually lazy and now mercifully vanishing journos who kept popping up on the radio around the Olympics boring on about participation levels in sport, their assumption being that anybody who was not signed up to sport was sitting on their sofa.  Come and spend a couple of hours raking cut grass, guys.  You will not be in the running for a medal, I'm afraid, but your muscles will get a good stretch, I promise you.

This year we are going to try something different with the cut grass, which is to bag it up in old Strulch bags and take it to the dump.  I don't want to put it on the compost heap because it is full of weed seeds.  In past years we've carted it up to the utility area with the intention of putting it on the bonfire, except that a bonfire has to be good and hot before it will burn cut grass, by which point you can scarcely get close enough to it to throw the grass on, and one way and another the piles of cut grass have taken ages to get burnt, and hung around by the bonfire until almost the time of next year's cut, getting danker and less combustible with every passing month.

Before starting to put this plan into action I did wonder whether it was realistic, or whether the amount of long grass generated by the two lawns would be enough to fill a hundred bags and take a couple of dozen trips to the dump.  We seemed to fill the trailer so many times when we were trying to burn the debris at home.  But of course piling the grass stems into the trailer we could not squash them down, whereas I was really packing them into the bags.  I must have filled ten or twelve bags by now, but I reckon I'm three quarters of the way round the fritillary lawn, which is by far the bigger of the two.  I'm going to need several car trips to the dump, but not dozens.  It will be doable, and then the cut long grass will be gone, which will be much better than having it festering by the bonfire heap for months.

This is the beauty of September, it is not so insanely hot and sticky.  Suddenly things are getting done.

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