Saturday, October 4, 2008

Day of Gardening

Anytime I hear people talk about yardwork I have to wonder what their 'yardwork' actually is. We were blessed to move into a beautiful home with a seriously gorgeous- and huge- garden. Last year we piddled around doing our best (and failing) not to kill any of it (some people say you can't kill hostas, but if you don't water them, they die). This isn't some 'go out and pull up dandelions' kind of garden. Our weeds have thorns, build tunnels through the garden popping up in various places and sucking the life out of any pretty plantlife around it. To pull up these vines (that always seems to hang out with invisible poison ivy- you can't see it, but you catch it) you need to pull at the root and watch as the root crawls along the garden around something else, popping up in two or three different sprouts that attack several plants at once. When I wondered last year why our hydrangeas looked brown and gross in one area, not like the other area where they are gorgeous, big white mopheads, I found my way through all the pretty wildflowers and found these awful vines. Ugh.

So this summer, we decided we would stay on top of the garden by doing various things:

1. setting up an irrigation system (laying soaker hoses).

2. pruning the roses regularly (who knew you were supposed to cut them when they were still alive?!)

3. set aside one day a month to tackle the vine/weeds.

So we set up the irrigation system and alas, the hostas did not die! How amazing. They look so much better than last year. Huh, plants like water...

I pruned the roses fairly regularly. This was an easy job on a day after work that wasn't too warm. We have about 12 rose bushes, 2 are teeny weeny ones that don't do too much but the other 10 are these gorgeous variations of roses that all need deadheading (that means cutting the dead flowers off so new ones will grow). While the roses looked great this year (see picture), many ended up growing rather lopsided and we didn't have that nasty beetle infestation that we had last year -imagine a science fiction movie. Sidenote: in an effort to not use pesticides last year on the roses I researched a non-chemical solution to the beetles. One was to pluck each one off separately, but did I mention the science fiction issue? Another was to put some honey, cornstarch and a banana or something like that in a gallon jug. But the wind blew really hard and knocked that disgusting solution over so it leaked into the soil. And finally I found a solution which was to 'harvest about 1/2 cup beetles. Blend in an old blender with some water until liquefied and spray onto the roses affected'. How incredibly gross! I just avoided that side of the yard until they went away and kissed any idea of a vase full of roses goodbye.

And this year we did stay on top of the weeds and vines. By the way, did you know that mint is a weed? In fact, it's a violent weed. Kind of like those thorny weeds, it builds tunnels in your garden and pops up everywhere. While it smells lovely to mow it, like a gum factory, and even better to make mojitos or some sort of fun summertime drink with a sprig of mint in it, please take my words of caution... do not plant it without the plastic bucket it comes in. Let me rephrase- if you buy mint to plant in your garden and it comes in a plastic container, dig a whole, drop the entire plastic container in the hole and fill the dirt around the plastic thing.

Ok, so back to our day of gardening. We decide we will dig up some plants that we have and don't particularly like to do the Square Foot Gardening. We read this book and by doing this easy system, you can have a lovely amount of vegetables growing in a small area. So we dug up some oregano, about 3 - 4 pounds of it. Smelled like pizza but it's too much to use, even for our Italian neighbors. Maybe I could sell it on the black market, but eh. We dug up a rose bush to move it closer to the other roses and out of the way of our soon-to-be veggie garden. We dug up a huge lavender plant which turned out to be about 4 all smushed together and moved that to other areas of the garden and finally moved this big mammoth of a bush to a place we (hopefully) eliminated all the mint that we let grow wild. WOW. what a ton of work. This is just prep work for the springtime too. Oh my goodness.

So after only 3 hours in the garden, we are filthy, aching backs and our hands ache, but wow, it's so nice to see this big blank area in our yard.

Our gardening to do list for next year:

*split and throw away about half of our black eyed susans (they grow so wide and we have plenty)

*build the veggie garden

*pray to the garden gods that we got all the mint roots and it stops popping up all over our yard.

*edge the garden so we know where the yard stops and the garden begins

*don't kill anything else

*pray the stuff we dug up and moved will grow

I wonder what other people's 'yardwork' is. I love our yard, but when people garden as a hobby, I wonder exactly what that means too? Are people just phrasing it a different way? Rather than being a slave to their garden, the 'enjoy' it? To be honest, I love some of the gardening. But days like this are not enjoyable, they are hard stinking work. I am so happy it was only 3 hours today.

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