Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Weekend of Gardening

No, I haven’t let Mother Nature fool me into thinking that Winter has passed and Spring is here. I’m wise to her wily ways. But, the weather was lovely enough, it was a great opportunity to get outside and get some basic maintenance done.

I always start out the growing season with lots of vim and vigor. Some years I stick with it and we get a nice garden. Some years (like last year), I get everything planted and set, remember to pluck fresh herbs and produce from the garden when I’m cooking, but never seem to get around to the maintenance part. You know, like fertilizing, weeding, raking, pruning, mulching. That kind of thrilling stuff.

This weekend I left the heavy lifting to Papa Bear. Saturday he rented a chain saw and took out the dead apple tree on the side of the house. The local Sapsucker population had been sucking the poor thing dry for years before we bought the place, and it finally succumbed to the arboreal leeches. The Cubs helped haul the branches and trimmings out to the front driveway, and Papa Bear got the whole thing cut into firewood-length logs, with miscellaneous stuff stacked ready for chipping. With the apple tree gone, it opens up some possibilities for gardening in the side/back yard. We’re going to keep an eye on that area and see what the sun patterns are like.

I focused on the herb garden. We’ve got some survivors from last year, which is great. Last spring’s survivors gave us some nice pickin’s, particularly the chives. This year’s survivors include chives (again), rosemary, oregano, sage and thyme. I left the plant name labels in place last year, so I know what’s what, and where we might still get a surprise or two. I carefully raked away the leaf mulch from the fall (my garden helper, T-Bear loaded the leaves into the garden cart for me) and dumped them in the spot we intend to build a new leaf-mulching-composting-gig in the back, and pulled weeds. I spread a nice layer of compost over the entire garden, including the strawberries, and worked it in a bit, then added a layer of cypress mulch (left over from last year).

The strawberries have been proliferating since their planting last year.
I did some much-needed pruning of the hydrangeas under the magnolia tree, and trimmed back the lower bit of the magnolia to make a little more space. Then de-cluttered the base of the hydrangeas, fertilized with compost, and topped with mulch.

Last but not least, I tended the bulbs which are currently pushing their little shoots out. Again, removing leaf mulch, loosening up the underlying cypress mulch (how I love to mulch!), feeding with compost, and topping with fresh mulch (the whole loving mulch thing again). From last year, we should be getting snowdrops, daffodils, hyacinth, daylily and tulips.
My final gardening act was to put up a cute little white trip-em-up fence as a gentle reminder to folks to STOP WALKING THROUGH THE FRICKEN’ GARDEN! Of course, certain small people in my family may simply take it that they will earn extra points for “difficulty” while hopping through the obstacle course they take my garden to be. I won't name names, here, but two out of three Cubs qualify.
My desperate attempt to keep everyone from tromping through my herb garden!
Yesterday after an hour of patiently and lovingly caring for my herb garden, while simultaneously very patiently reminding any number of children to please NOT walk through the garden, and another half hour of screeching “STOP WALKING THROUGH THE GARDEN!” loud enough for the entire neighborhood to hear from within their homes, I let slip the term “MoFo” aimed directly at my beloved husband after he intentionally stomped (carefully) through my garden “just to mess with you”. It definitely was not one of my finest marital moments. I am still debating whether or not my terminology was or was not entirely warranted. But, apparently he forgave me (and showed appropriate self-reproach) because I received a bouquet of roses in a really LARGE wine glass held by a tux-bearing bear, and heart-shaped box of truffles with appropriately loving card as an early Valentine’s Day gift. Love my hubby ;)

Oh, yeah, and speaking of compost…. My compost pile is a sad, sad mess of uncomposted matter. I have proven to be a miserable composter since moving to GA. I thought I was going to beat the compost beast by spending too much money on a fancy compost tumbler, but I gave up after several months of having WAAAAY too wet mush coming out of it and passed it on to Mimi with my best wishes for compost success. I then reverted to my previously tried-and-true cube composter, but have failed in my composterly duties by not turning it enough (and generally just ignoring it). As a result, I find myself in the position of having to pull the whole thing apart, shuffle it around, and start over. But, not today.

Today, I had a stroke of brilliance. Since I had some nicely composted material wedged in with uncomposted egg shells (we could not POSSIBLY have eaten THAT many eggs!) and other inert matter, I was fully prepared to beg Papa Bear to stop in the middle of whatever he was working on and build me a little compost sifter to wean the chaff from the grain, so to speak. Well, while digging through the garage looking for a missing gardening tool (ain’t there way too many of those?), I happened to spy a plastic milk crate full of “stuff”. Hmmmm, I thought, the square holes in that crate are just about the right size for a compost sifter…which I need. So, I carefully transferred (okay, dumped) the contents of the crate into a box sitting in the garage, and, viola! I had a compost sifter!

But, the REAL genius of this inspiration is that I had already grabbed some unused recycling bins and pressed them into service as garden bins for collecting weeds and hauling smaller amounts of compost and mulch to and fro. And, the milk crate fit PERFECTLY inside one of the recycling bins! It was Providence, I swear! So…

My bin of way chunky, not completely composted matter…

...went through the milk crate…
...and gave me not-perfectly-composted-but-definitely-workable compost…

...and the remaining rejects…

...get dumped back into the composter. Once I get it re-set-up. Which I will do another day, ‘cause I’m BUSHED!

So, that’s it for this week. Next week…keep watching for bulbs and tend to them as they poke up. Try desperately to weed the rest of the front planter so I can use it for something PURDY. And transfer the green spear-like thingies still surviving in the veggie garden into the rest of the front planter. Whatever they are, they’re pretty friggin’ hardy, because they’ve survived the entire winter (three…or was it four…snows, and dozens of hard freezes) while being NOT planted in the ground…just sitting on top where I abandoned them last year not wanting to really figure out where to put them. I THINK they might be irises… I really should plant them and find out ;)


  1. WOW have been BUSY! I like to compost and garden too! My composter is a little black bin that we got from our sanitation dept.

    My garden will be moved this year...last year it was located under the rink...well, there was no rink at the time...but now there is.

    And on the "mofo" comment...:) I am glad the hubby forgave ya! xoxo

  2. My backyard (where my veggie garden plot is) is in desperate need of clearing, mowing and general tidying before I can even think about weeding and preparing my garden bed. I need to get that done soon!

    My compost bin needs attention too, and my bulbs need dividing this year, and the shrubs need pruning, and. . . oh dear. . .