I’m not really a fan of winter, or cold. That means that my fall garden maintenance consists of “rake it all into the garden plot and let it act as mulch”, then I clear out the gardens in the spring. Similarly, all of my pruning gets done in the spring. Probably not the healthiest for the trees that need it, but since I didn’t plant any of those (nor would I have chosen them to plant to begin with), I’m not overly attached to them. All of this means that I have two big housekeeping tasks before I can do anything with my gardens.: raking (and bagging), and pruning (and bagging). Six leaf bags later, and we have ther front yard almost presentable and the backyard halfway there (though we may end up leaving some of the old leaves there for further mulching or fill for the interlock hole).
The past couple of years have seen a slow overhaul of the gardens in both my front yard and back yard. The previous owners were big fans of decorative perennials, and seemed to be oriented towards stuff that was showiest in the fall (at least in the front). I’m a big fan of growing some food (not even remotely close to be self-sufficient, but at least some tomatoes and herbs), and my taste in decorative plants is a little different as well.
Every year, I dig up a bit more of what we started with. This year’s attack focused on the front garden. I’d removed a couple of the smaller shrubberies/plants last year, but didn’t succeed with any planting efforts. This year I attacked the remaining smaller plants, leaving just the 2-story magnolia, the 6′ conical conifer, and some lilacs, hydrangeas, and lilies around the side of the plot. Two of the three major excavations came out nicely (the nice thing about attacking them in the\ spring with fresh, saturated dirt). The third inspired the chorus to a country song:
[You got] roots so dep I broke my shovel,
Tryn’a git yew out…
I did indeed break the shaft of my nice heavy-duty garden shovel. By that point the demon-plant was half gone though, so I wasn’t about to let it win. Out came the trowel. I dug deep, excavated as much loose dirt as I could, and pulled each root out individually as I found them. Not my idea of fun, but the battle is done for now. This year the plan is to let the front garden grow, see what comes up, and remove anything I don’t want as it comes up. I have no idea how persistent any of these things are, or if I need to worry about deep/dormant roots resurrecting the beasts.
No photos of the front yet (forgot to take them as I was working this past weekend), but I’ll try to remember to add one later.
I’m going through a phase of renewed interests. I’m getting excited about sewing, gardening, reading, writing, volunteering, cycling, and generally “doing”. This often happens to me this time of year – the weather is finally becoming hospitable, and I get to see sunlight more than just on my way to the water cooler at work. Most years I can keep it going for a few weeks, and then collapse into bad habits and apathy when I cycle back to a depressive state or hit a bad sleep phase, or some combination of the two.
Depression sucks. I am fortunate that mine is mild – I tend to run towards extreme apathy, moderate irritability, and antisociability. It’s tolerable, but not fun – for me or for those I live with. A year or so ago I got tired of tolerating it. I was tired of being tired and grumpy, and I missed caring about things. For years I’d fantasized late in bed at night on how to start the conversation with my spouse, but never pulled together the strength to say anything when he was awake. What finally made me say something was, of all things, a comic strip (linked below). It explained things in a way that I couldn’t, so I send C the link and had him read it. That led to a really good conversation about the cyclic nature of it, and how the irrational fear of judgment against depression had been an influence in my suppressing the need to get help. A few weeks later I made it to the doctor to discuss it. I started medication fairly quickly after that, and it had a big effect. I suddenly felt things other than irritation. I wouldn’t say I became “happy” necessarily, but I was feeling something, which was a big improvement.
The major drawback to the medication I take is that it has really screwed with my sleep cycle. That’s not new – I’ve struggled with insomnia since at least primary school – but I find it painfully amusing that the best sleep of my life has also been during my worst depression.
So what’s different about this year’s spark of interest? Noting as far as I can tell. My kids are a little older and my job is a little closer to home, but I remain on someone else’s clock 15 hours a day. I’m hoping to do better, of course, but I’m trying to stay realistic this time. And I’m going to try to keep things up here as well, but make no promises. It’ll probably be the first thing to go.
Drought continues. We had a slight break in the heat over the weekend, but we’re back up to the high 30s again (up over 40C with humidity). The pepper plants seem to like the heat, and I’ve made it out to water most days – either early morning or mid-evening. Tomatoes are still coming along, but still nothing edible yet (other than the herbs). A hummingbird decided that the hanger for one of the baskets was a lovely spot to sit the other evening, but flew off before I could get a photo. I really need to start keeping a camera in the kitchen…
Finally got some good rain in, but we could really use a good day-long soaking.
Tomatoes are starting to fruit on 4 of the plants, tomatillos are starting to fruit (I think – I’ve never grown them before so I’m not entirely sure). Down to 4 carrots in the planter box, and the swiss chard that was planted with it is totally gone. At least we still have some chard in the wall-mounted box?
Planter boxes for the deck benches are about half-completed, but won’t be filled this year. I need to come up with some kind of shade-loving edible for those and the rear raised bed. I think I’m going to expand the large-pot garden next year – those plants seem to be doing really well, and with the upper-deck expansion we’re planning, I know right where to put them.
It’s still hot, but cooled down enough that we’re back to windows instead of a/c. We got a tiny amount of rain on the weekend, but I’m still out watering twice a day (early morning & late evening. The positioning of the climber makes using a sprinkler impossible, so I’ve started looking into irrigation options for next year.
Tomatoes are starting to form, and the oregano and one basil plant are starting to flower. I’m really happy with the way the herbs have filled out, and am considering how best to expand them for next year (which planters and beds, including where to put new ones).
Happy Canada Day all! Missed last week’s update due to a series of technical issues, but since not much is happening out back other than heat, I figure that’s okay.
The theme for this past week has been animal invasion. Our new deck is now a lovely polka-dotted purple thanks to birds dropping mulberries from the end of the yard (I actually do quite like the effect).
The birds have gotten stupider and have hit three of our kitchen windows fairly frequently. Fortunately there’s only been one casualty (funnily enough to a window that has a stained glass panel hanging and a wire shelving plant rack in front of it, making it a pretty full window), but that was a good opportunity to talk to K about death and dead things. It can be tough to talk to a small kid about death as a non-religious person, but I think we managed to strike a good balance by talking about how others can live on in our memories.
The last invaders this weekend are definitely more pestilential – something has eaten all the swiss chard and has mown across the carrot tops in my planter box. Not sure if it’s a brave rabbit, a squirrel, a raccoon, or a cat, but I’ve seen all of those around lately. I was so happy before that the critters hadn’t found the planter box yet, but I suppose it was just a matter of time…
Not much to report this week. Carrots, Swiss Chard, all the herbs (except the dill) and most of the tomatoes are doing well. The potted Tomatillo is quite happy. Peppers are mostly still alive. Something has dug up two of the tomatoes and some of the Swiss Chard. My bet is on a squirrel, since the Chard was in a wall-mounted pot 4′ off the ground.
Lots of ongoing weeding – this is one of the problems with having a child who loves dandelions. I like the flowers too (they’re bright and sunny and feel like spring), just not in my tomato patch.
Looking forward to the point when the edibles (beyond herbs) are edible – I think I need to look into options for things I can start earlier so that I get real food before July!