healing haven

April 12, 2008

Dead-Nettle Mowing

Filed under: gardening — by thalia @ 8:14 am


All the steady rain brought forth lush growth of grass embedded within areas of, what turns out to be, purple dead-nettle.  I thought for years that it was heal-all that brought the beautiful lavender flowers to front yards everywhere around here.  Then henbit was mentioned as a possibility. 

After taking a flashlight and going outside at 4 am to pick a few strands of whatever-it-is, I got online today and researched it .  Purple dead-nettle is what the plants really are, as evidenced primarily by its petioles (leaf stalk) attaching the leaves to the square stem.   It does not sting like regular nettles; hence, the name dead-nettle.   I read that the tops and leaves are edible, usable in salads.  But, unfortunately, it spreads from seeds which continue to take over the lawn – front and back. 

So the best way of dealing with it is to mow before the seeds get a chance to be formed.  So I mowed.  Not so bad in 70 degree weather.  It is when it gets to 90+ degrees that it is really a problem.  So much so that I always wonder if I will survive the mowing.  The backyard hill adds to the difficulty.   

So I mowed all the dead-nettle and stray wild onions that look like tufts of hair growing here and there.  And all the while I was aware of the burgeoning dandelions that were just out of reach, under the mower blades.  I envisioned them chuckling, just waiting for me to pass with the mower so that they could then surge upwards, going to fluff-seed before the next mowing. 

I’m sure they do it purposely; that the dandelions are in calhoots with the dead-nettles to get the most out of that first mowing of the season so that both not only survive, but propagate.  Dandelions use hiding and then bolting as their main strategy whereas the dead-nettles use the beauty of their lavender flowers to hopefully delay the mowing so they can go to seed.  They are beautiful, so it always works – at least in my yard. 

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