Jeopardy! category: GARDENING (05-12-2014)
$600 clue: This process of punching holes & removing small plugs of soil from a lawn helps to improve nutrient & water absorption
The gist: I can’t be the only one who’s mistaken this process for a few too many dogs having been walked on a lawn. Aeration, defined in the clue, is necessary because soil gets compacted over time, and the little pockets of air that are found in good gardening soil get filled in with dirt. When the air pockets aren’t there, plants roots can’t get at enough of the much-needed oxygen they normally provide. Punching holes in the ground not only creates new air pockets (of course), it gives the soil room to move around and get looser, which lets air get into places it couldn’t get before. The holes also help improve soil drainage, meaning it doesn’t get water-logged which contributes again to soil compaction, and can drown root systems if it gets bad enough. Aeration can be accomplished with simple tools like a hand-held spike, or you can get fancier and strap some spiked aeration shoes to your feet or use a mechanical aerator (see below).
The clue: Nothing tricky here, just asking if you know the word for something that, if you grew up somewhere with a lot of lawns, you’ve seen plenty of times. The writers make a little harder by not mention oxygen or something else to give the “air” angle away.
In Jeopardy!: Another first! Welcome to the J!Archive, aeration. Maybe you can loosen it up a little and make some room for other gardening concepts.