Recently, we applied compost tea with microbial foods to the soil that supports the lawns of our customers. The soil is a living breathing place with air, water and billions of micro-organisms breaking things down and building things up. It is a little quiet down there now, but it will soon be crackling with activity as the weather moderates and the cool season grasses come to life.
There is a lot of clover this year and people love it or hate it. To put it in perspective, I would like to share the view of clover before the advent of broadleaf weed killer. This is from the scientist who introduced 2,4-D to the landscape. He lamented the fact that the chemical herbicide got rid of the beautiful and useful clover along with the other weeds.
“The thought of White Dutch Clover as a lawn weed will come as a distinct shock to old-time gardeners. I can remember the day when lawn mixtures were judged for quality by the percentage of clover seed they contained. The higher this figure, the better the mixture…I can remember the loving care which old-time gardeners gave their clover lawns. The smug look on the face of the proud homeowner whose stand was the best in the neighborhood was really something to behold.” (In New Way to Kill Weeds by R. Milton Carleton, 1957. Arco Publishing Co., N.Y.)
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. A subsequent advertising campaign vilified clover as a weed and it acquired a dark and unsavory reputation. Shunned by homeowners, clover is still a good friend to soil, lawns and bees. Clover gets nitrogen from the air and puts it in the soil. That is why farmers use it as a cover crop. It helps relieve compaction. It stays green in drought and crowds out other weeds. Grubs don’t like it and the bees, who need all the help they can get these days, love it. Grass growing around clover is always greener than grass growing farther away.
Once I was listening to the radio while driving along with my kids. A Harvard entomologist was talking about the demise of pollinating insects such as bees and other species. He bemoaned the American obsession with killing “bugs and weeds”. He claimed that insects and wild flowers were beautiful and they did many useful things in the environment. Of course, my teenager insisted on changing the station to one with music and commercials. An ad immediately popped up for a chemical lawn fertilizer and pesticide company, “wishing you a bug free summer”. We need to learn to live with the bugs and weeds that treat us so well.
8/5/2014, 6:15:37 PM
I enjoyed reading your latest newsletter. I always felt clover was beautiful and other flowers that grow in grass are beautiful too. I am glad I am not alone 🙂
Being green, protecting bees and useful bugs is something I support too. There is shortage of bees in North America that is impacting fruit trees. There was a 60 minutes show about that few years ago.
Keep doing your great work and educating us!
-One Happy Customer