Good-bye, lawn. Hello, winter tomatoes.

By Jennifer E. Beaver

I never thought we had a particularly big front lawn…until we decided to remove the grass. Turns out that writing about lawnicide is much easier than actually doing it.
After researching different lawn-removal methods, including smothering-by-plastic (not enough time), death-by-chemicals (too toxic for pets and environment) and removal by hand, I chose the hard labor method. It was recommended by friends Lee and Mauna, whose own front lawn looks like a poster child for drought-tolerant landscaping.
Let me say right up front that I was not the one doing the hard labor. That task fell to Domingo Uribe and his crew. Domingo has been helping us garden for the 20 years we’ve owned this house. He’s hacked back the overly enthusiastic bougainvillea, removed the poisonous oleander, and has always been tremendously reliable, helpful and affordable. That’s a lot more than I can say for many of the garden “professionals” and nurseries who advertise such services.
We hired him to dig out the lawn and cart off the dirt, rototill in some compost, and install the decomposed granite pathway. Oh, yeah– he’s also working on the irrigation system.
Later in the week, my son and I will plant. I’m in a complete panic, brought on in part by the urge to fiddle with everything from path design to the plant selection. Will it look good? Will I be able to find everything I need? Ricardo at Ricardo’s Nursery on Atlantic Avenue has been very helpful.
Think you’ve savored the year’s last homegrown tomato? Don’t despair! Try a winter tomato– one that matures during a short growing season. Short-season tomatoes include Early Girl, Champion, Oregon Spring, Siberian and others. Put transplants in now and get fruit till November. Try them in big containers to warm the soil and use blossom-set spray to keep them blooming and fruiting during cool weather. H & H Nursery in Lakewood advertised winter tomatoes in its most recent e-newsletter.
Target will stop selling plants and garden stuff at the end of September. Some things are already marked down 30 percent– I scored a bulb planter and a four-way hose connector.
Last but not least, a big round of applause for Home Depot at Spring and Atlantic. I stopped by to pick up some potting soil on 9/11, and the store was flying the American flag at half-mast. Thanks for remembering and commemorating. You’ve certainly won my business.

Jennifer E. Beaver, a Wrigley resident, is a master gardener and author of Container Gardening for California.

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