Saturday, March 14, 2015

Sheaves of Miscanthus

♫Bringing in the Sheaves, ♪Bringing in the Sheaves, ♪ProfessorRoush Rejoicing Bringing in the Sheaves.♫

This was a glorious golden day here in northeastern Kansas.  Gentle sun, mild wind,  A mid-day high of 66ºF.  Perfect for a work-starved gardener who was aching to get his hands into the dirt again.  It was one of the spectacular dozen days we get here every year, the majority in early Spring, with two or three left for September.  That's right, twelve perfect days a year is all I can count on here and one is already gone.  Actually, at least three are gone because there were two great days this week that I missed entirely while I perfected my indoor fluorescent tan at work.

I was almost sidetracked today by an early morning veterinary emergency, but I was home by 11:30 a.m. and in the garden by noon.   My first move was to uncover my formerly beautiful strawberry patch, praying that green budding strawberry plants would lay beneath the straw and deer droppings.  And there they were, rumpled and a bit put out from missing several good days of sunshine, but seemingly game to get going.  Since the ground was dry clay powder to the depth of 2-3 inches, I watered them, and surrounded the unsheathed shade house by a stretch of snow fence in an effort to keep the deer from sampling the new foliage.   My strawberry dream is still intact, still safe despite the very real potential of late snows, marauding creatures, drowning rains, drought, and perhaps a plague of locusts.

You can see from the picture above that I also cut back the majority of my ornamental grasses, shortening the average height of my garden by half in a single afternoon.  Tying each bunch into a sheave before cutting it off  is a little trick I learned several years ago to help me keep the garden tidy (or, more truthfully, to keep Mrs. ProfessorRoush from complaining about my habit of strewing grass stems all over the garden).  As an added bonus, seeing all those sheaves of grass standing and waiting to be cut touches an ancient spot buried deep in my psyche, connecting me to those first agriculturists who decided that grain might be a little tough to chew, but it was surely better than being trampled by a Mastodon.  Indeed, Mastodons may be gone from Kansas, but the grasses and strawberries and I struggle on, rejoicing in each perfect golden day that we can..


  1. I have to cut back my Miscanthus coming week. Thanks for the idea to make sheaves of them before cutting.

  2. My pleasure. I do a lot of mulching with prairie hay and straw bales so I keep the strings and use them for this. After tying, I lop them off with a hedge trimmer; one of those 18V battery operated deals from Black and Decker.

  3. Good tip Professor! Having done them with secateurs for years, without even thinking about mechanising the task, i will save lots of time using hedge trimmers!


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