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We seed and feed and weed, but we don't complain

Editor's note: Greg Sellnow is away for the week. Here's a best-of "I'm Just Sayin'" column from the summer of 2004.

I swear I could literally see my lawn grow last week. It grew on Saturday, Sunday and Monday when we were out of town for the holiday. It grew on Tuesday when the fifth-grade baseball team I coach played a game. It grew on Wednesday when my son and I went to the Honkers' game. It grew on Thursday when the fifth-grade team played again. And it grew on Friday when I didn't get home from work until it was nearly dark.

By the time I finally had a spare hour to cut it on Saturday, our lawn had turned into a deep green jungle tall enough to lose a pygmy goat in.

I mowed it once, killing the motor in my poor little red mower once every five or six minutes. Then I raked the lawn, lowered the setting, mowed and raked it again. By the time I got done I had bagged enough clippings to feed a horse for a month and worn a pea-sized raking blister on my right thumb.

But did I complain? Not on your life. Well, OK, maybe a little, to my wife who, while scraping, sanding and painting window sills, gave me one of those "who-has-the-tougher-job?" looks.


For the most part, we Minnesotans do not complain much about summer lawn and garden work. Or, at least we shouldn't. I mean, after all, we've waited all winter for this, haven't we? Each year we endure anywhere from three to eight months of snow, ice, cold and general outdoor black and gray deadness for three precious months of summer. And then we homeowners — at least those of us with more than three hours of spare daylight hours available per week — go absolutely nuts.

For 12 short weeks we're as frantic as NASCAR pit crews to make our lawns and gardens look like miniature versions of the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

We fertilize, water and pamper our grass so we'll have to mow it twice a week. Some of us even take the time to mow in even straight lines, or diagonal lines, or in diamond patterns so our sod looks like the 18th fairway at Augusta.

We seed and feed and weed but we don't get angry or frustrated because it is summer and summers are beautiful and summers are short here in the land of loons and lady slippers.

We plant petunias and marigolds and begonias and violets in flower boxes and hanging baskets and wooden barrels and clay pots outside our homes. We trim the hedges so they look like giant green toadstools, thimbles or bread loaves. We dedicate parts of our lawn to beds of flowers designed to attract butterflies or hummingbirds.

We seed and feed and weed but we don't complain. Much.

We build compost piles into which we put the seed-laden weeds we have harvested, so they can be recycled into our gardens, thus ensuring crop after crop of the same weeds year after year. We buy a dozen tomato plants, at $3 a pop, so we can harvest $10 worth of fruit at the end of the year.

We seed and feed and weed, and sometimes we complain.


We put up fences to keep the rabbits from dining on peas and lettuce, but the little critters find a way to get in anyway. And when you catch them eating the tops off the beet plants they just sit there and stare at you because they know it's not legal to fire a shotgun in city limits.

We seed and feed and weed, and we're wondering how much it would cost to replace the lawn with Astroturf.

In late July, the lawn decides out of the blue to quit coloring its hair and using makeup. Crab grass, dandelions and creeping Charley, dormant all this time, seize the moment, load up their families and move into the backyard. The tomatoes are dying of blight. A cat — or maybe a mountain lion, judging from the size of the hole — has destroyed half a row of newly planted radishes by mistaking the garden for a giant litter box. An errant soccer ball has flattened the begonias, the elm tree is dying, and some kind of brownish blotchy stuff is covering the beans.

We seed and feed and weed. And even though retirement might be 20 years off, those condo ads in the newspaper are starting to look pretty enticing.

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