Common Garden maintenance

Mowing went well today. The crew did a good job. I have some notes:

Rows 10 – 33 got blasted from the east by the grass clipping etc from the mower.
Rows 35 – 56 got blasted from the west.
Row 34 didn’t get blasted. Row 34 was chosen at random, row 38 was chosen last year. Each year before 2006 I blasted the whole garden from either the east or the west. That was too inefficient.

Here’s the schedule of not-to-be-blasted rows for the next few years:

year row
2008 31
2009 39
2010 36
2011 28
2012 34
2013 27
2014 32
2015 29
2016 35
2017 37
2018 30

I ran over 4 flags (loose or bent) and didn’t hit any rocks. There aren’t very many new gopher mounds. Look for new mounds far N, Row ~ 35, Pos ~925, and Row 56. I don’t think I ran over any Echinacea plants. I was running blind in R~40-42, up to P935, and P865 in R10-12. Also, I had to add flags in R 10 far N. The brome is flowering super thick this year. The CG looks so different from last year because of the brome. Some brome infl are eye-level W of the garden in pos <910! Those fence posts in R 13.5 and ~38.5 are annoying and must go. The cottonwoods need to go to too--too much shade. Deal with trefoil & phalaris.

I can think of some things I will do differently next year. I’ll only do them next year if I remember. Next year I’ll have to look at this flog to find the unblasted row. Here’s the plan.

in fall, leave flags in the 98 garden or put in staples
get flags delivered in plenty of time (consider color coordination)
30″ are much better in non-burn years
sharpen blade, buy gas
mow entry paths & set up stairs
flag perimeter & unblasted row
mow perimeter
mow aisle on both sides of unblasted row

Orientation (print maps beforehand):
wear safety glasses, ear protection optional
place flags 10cm N of each plant
search for plants or staples
emphasize that plants can be difficult to find, but the goal isn’t to find every one (measure if necessary to get good coverage in thick areas)
walk E & W in unmowed areas & anywhere on mowed areas
lift legs over rows
pull pins & collect plastic
start flagging in positions 860, 935, 960, 983, then flag on either side of unblasted row
coordinate so rows are flagged before mowing
after a few rows, get folks working rows 50 – 56 & 10 – 16. Don’t bother flagging cg96.

Remove duff from all plants in an organized fashion.

flag bags
meter sticks (we need more, we only have six)
safety glasses
ear protection
mower sharp blade
gloves for all & gloves for SW. Get the XL; L is too small.

Plan to spread mowing over two days to avoid exhaustion. Sharpen blade in between.
After duff is removed weed thistles, sweet clover, trim shrubs & trap gophers.

To do–cut cottonwoods, ashes in ditch, trees E of CG.


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  • Andy McCall

    I was wondering why the plants are don’t have some sort of permanent tag.

    Pin flags could become unreadable and trashed in the winter, I understand, but I was thinking of maybe even a fiberglass rod at every plant or even every 5th plant with a aluminum tag on it. Sure, we would lose some, but I can’t help but think that it would save tons of time every year and also lots of possible errors in the effort to tag the correct plants. Finally, it would make finding the rows and mowing easier as well! Well, it wouldn’t make the mowing itself easier, but you know what I mean…

    Sowing seeds of discontent,


  • We’ve been meaning to put permanent tags in for years. It’s a difficult trade-off between durability (through biennial fire & annual ice) and visibility. We would also like the tags to affect the plants as little as possible.

    This year we rushed to flag the flowering plants & made errors. Usually we flag every position divisible by ten first, and then flag the flowering plants.

    Live & learn.

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