Monday, June 23, 2014

Working Before the Rain

The weather folks on television said it would start to rain today, and they were correct this time. I worked from about 11:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. and, as always, I am astounded by how little I got done in that amount of time. That said, gardening is my meditation, and so "hurrying" is not in the description at all. That's the point for me, you know? I want to BE out there, listening to the birds (and the fire trucks and my dogs), savoring the pure beauty of the out-of-doors.

It was pretty nice when I went out, but a couple hours in, the weather changed and it got cooler. I looked to the west and sure enough, I could see the coastal weather heading my way; we are only about 17 miles from the coast, so it doesn't have far to go.

Yesterday, I had planned to mix the rest of the soil for the Square Foot plot, but got sidetracked and instead potted some houseplants that I'd rooted from cuttings and also planted my husband's herb garden:
The herbs look a little lost in that big pot, but hopefully, they'll notice what lovely soil they have and take off. They're probably ticked because I left them sitting in their tiny pots for so long.

Today, I also put off finishing the filling of the garden, so here it sits, just as it was on Saturday afternoon:
The pink container and the plastic jug are just "saving the place" for the rest of the soil mix. The blue container in which I mix the soil components can be seen in the top right. The author of The New Square Foot Garden suggests using a tarp and mixing the soil on it, but I like using the plastic container, even though it takes four batches to fill the garden.
I tried to get all the little piles of organic debris into cans and boxes today, ready for their trip to what we refer to as "Greg's Gully." Part of our friend Greg's lot, about 12 feet of it, is a sheer drop off and he is trying to fill it in, so we take our yard waste there (what I don't want to compost) and throw it over the edge, into the abyss. I have about four for five big garbage cans full of hay roots, berry canes (from last year), wild blackberry vines, etc.  Hopefully, we can take them there tomorrow afternoon because I am running out of room in the cans to put any additional unwanted garden waste and  I'm tired of looking at them. I know there will be more, as I still have one former raised bed full of hay to deal with. You can see it in the picture above, at the top center: the white clothesbasket full of hay roots is sitting in it. When I started working this year, just about all the garden that wasn't berries was that tall hay you can see on both sides of that clothesbasket. I don't have a picture of it because I didn't want to LOOK at it!! It would get to be 5 or 6 feet tall!! It's the painful reminder of my stint at Straw Bale Gardening--not only did my plants not grow any better on the straw bales, but I unwittingly sowed hay seeds that produced this robust hay everywhere in my garden. It wanted to take over the world!! The roots are sometimes a yard long for one stalk of hay!! So think hard before you decide to do some "new fad" gardening!! I had no idea this would happen as a result of my little "experiment."
This is what the roots of the hay looked like when I started cleaning out the area for the square foot garden!! It is slow going, for sure.
A lot of my time this year has also been spent "sorting." When I clean out an area, I have dirt, roots, and rocks, usually--and sometimes rugs. Did I mention them yesterday?  I think I've pulled out about 14 rugs from the "lanes" between the berry rows, although two of them, and maybe another, are still in the garden, only partly uncovered. They were somewhat successful at keeping the weeds between the berry rows in check, but if they are there 15-20 years (and they were), about 4-6" of soil covers them, and they are no longer helpful. So getting them out has not been fun, but I've found if I work long enough, and hard enough, I eventually get them out, one at a time. A few friends have asked me why I didn't just leave them, but I didn't want them there any longer. They were not cotton or wool (at least those still there weren't) and so they'd never biodegrade any further.
So, besides digging out rugs,  I sort: rocks into containers, soil into different containers, roots into garbage cans for Greg's--except wild blackberry roots. I am a cloth dollmaker and I have a doll blog (, and dolls are never far from my mind. One day, as I pulled up a weed, I thought, "Wow! That root looks just like hair!" And so I made Earth Man with the root his hair:
He is not very big, only about ten inches tall. I really LIKED him, especially his hair! Then, as mentioned before, I have some very stubborn wild blackberry plants in my garden that I will NEVER get totally rid of--they were here first and they aim to stay. But, as I unearthed one of them, I thought, "Whoa!! Hair for a BIG doll!!" and so here she is:
She is about 30 inches tall when standing. and this is the next doll in the series: 

He/She is a little smaller than the one before. So anyway, using the roots this way has made digging them up a little more exciting for me.
It looks like the rest of this week will be short gardening stints worked in between the rain showers, much like it was in March, April, and May. And I will be out getting slugs--I killed over a hundred shortly after it began to rain this afternoon, but only 15 of those were in my backyard, and only maybe 10 more in our front yard. The rest were caught from the front yards of other houses on our block--slugs do not obey property lines, so I figure I don't need to obey lines when pursuing them either. So far, no neighbor has complained that I'm stealing their slugs!!!
That's all for now. Bedtime. Stay tuned.



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