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Big mower, hands help kill kudzu

POSTED: June 7, 2009 12:30 a.m.

They haven’t asked me to write a gardening column for the paper because my true gardening knowledge could be placed in a thimble with room to spare.

But I have figured out that if you put fertilizer on your new grass and the Lord gives you plentiful rainfall, it will grow.

I actually like cutting grass, until my mower breaks down. The big mower, the riding one, lost the belt that turns the blades. You can still ride up and down your yard, but the grass will remain the same height. I do not know this from personal experience. I just figured it out for myself.

A dear friend of mine saw my plight and brought me his mower and told me to use it. It is a He-Man, macho mower. It has a 25-horsepower diesel engine. I know that in the grand scheme of things, this isn’t a big engine, but when you rev it up, it sounds pretty intimidating.

It has an underbelly mower that is about 5 feet wide. It cuts a heck of a path. It also has a bucket out front, kind of a mini bulldozer. I feel very powerful when I am driving it.

Last year, when they were grading for our new house, I watched a real professional, Earl Hedden, operate a giant excavating machine. Earl even let me try it once. It was the ultimate feeling of power. But Earl is the ultimate cool operator. I’m not in his league.

Aboard the borrowed tractor, I’m merely an Earl wannabe.

I had a bunch of dead limbs in the back of my yard. Sure, I could have carried them one by one or pushed them in a wheelbarrow. But why do that when you have a fancy orange tractor with a loader on the front? I loaded that bucket up and drove it up the hill in four-wheel drive. At the edge of the street, I carefully manipulated the bucket and dumped them right into the pile. Earl would have been proud.

Last year, Earl and his big bucket took on a mighty foe in our yard: kudzu.

Kudzu is just awful. I interviewed a woman once who wrote the definitive book on kudzu. I asked her if she had any in her yard. She said if she had kudzu in her yard, she’d move. I understand.

I’ve tried all kinds of sprays and stuff, and it took Earl and the big machine to get most of it. That’s the trouble — Earl was able to load most of it up in a Dumpster and send it off to wherever they send old kudzu.

But, a few spots survived and I’ve been working on them. I even used the bucket thing on the tractor to dig up one big root. You can only dig so far, then you have to go out and yank up the rest of it. My wife watched me do this from the comfort of our air-conditioned living room.

I looked like one of those snake-handling guys on one of those animal shows. She was so impressed when I unearthed the final piece that she brought me a glass of ice water.

I’m no gardening guru, but give me a little tractor and keep me watered and I’ll kill some kudzu.

Harris Blackwood is a columnist for The Times. His column runs every week in Sunday Life.



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