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On letting grass go to seed (follow-up)


When I check the logs of this blog, one post that I find is frequently read (by people searching Google) is “On letting grass go to seed” from May 2009. I owe my readers a follow-up on that post.

In May 2009, I was so busy finishing the building of the abbey that I didn’t have time to mow my grass, even if I’d wanted to. Also, I had reasoned that it couldn’t hurt to let the grass run wild in its first year.

But in the spring of 2010, I bought a lawn mower, and since then I have been mowing (though I don’t mow nearly as often as most folks or cut the grass as low).

Each spring, there is still an opportunity to let one’s grass go to seed and get a free seeding. The timing is tricky. The seed needs to be ripe, but it wouldn’t be healthy to let the grass get too tall and then mow it down. It’s hard on grass to cut too much of its growth at once.

I am not a horticulturist. But I am a careful observer, and I do know horticulturists who can give me advice when I need it. So, with your own grass, use your own judgment. I am more experimental than most folks. I love my grass.

One of the things I notice is there are many kinds of grasses in my yard. I tend to dislike monocultures. I have spread many types of seed based on the assumption that the happiest grass, the grass best suited to a particular area, will eventually dominate. And in any yard, grass will volunteer, though I have no idea where it all comes from.

To decide when to mow, you need to be confident that the seeds have ripened and matured and then dried out. Look closely!

I put some samples under the microscope. I was greatly surprised by what I saw. Grass looks like little corn plants! Each grass seed looks a lot like an ear of corn. If I’m not mistake, the seeds flower out the top through tiny silks, like corn, at least on some types of grass. I may be wrong about this, and I’ll need to ask a horticulturist. But upon seeing the resemblance of corn to grass under the microscope, I did some quick Googling. For example, Scientists Trace Corn Ancestry from Ancient Grass to Modern Crop.

In the microscopic photo below, notice what appears to me to be a little corn-like tassle at the top of the seed.




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