Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Life at Our House

Beagle Bottom


Monday we had temps in the mid 60s and sun, so I finally got to begin my weeding of The Disaster That Is My Yard. AND for once, I remembered to take "before" pictures, so that I can better brag about my "after." So in the interest of full disclosure (and public self-shaming), here are pictures of my front yard as of Monday.

The little blue house has seen better days.

Oh...  dear.

In fairness to myself, this bed WAS completely under water
this summer when the creek flooded and turned our street
into a raging river.

Hey, the crocuses are alive!

Why is it the street-side areas are the ugliest?

Who knows what lurks in the flower bed? The Shadow knows...
Technically this is my neighbor's yard, but since I made the
bed for them (it was bare dirt before), I take full responsibility
for it. The good news is the black-eyed Susans are
spreading underneath there and will hopefully become
a permanent natural mulch.

This... could be worse.

We bought this mulch from a neighborhood
Boy Scout. Last March.

These plastic pots? Sitting here for two years. Yes, those
are Christmas lights.

Well, that doesn't look so bad.

Friday, February 24, 2012

No Gardening on Account of Dogs

Although it was fully my intent to start weeding yesterday, it was not to be.

It’s the dogs’ fault. Charlie and Rosie spent the day at the vet, getting their teeth scaled. For those unfamiliar with the process, it requires knocking out your pet so the vet can scrape all those coffee and tobacco stains (well, that’s what they look like) off your pup’s teeth.

My plan was to pick up the dogs from their ordeal right after work, then start in with The Weeding in the front yard. But the vet told me that I should try to keep the pups quiet when we got home as they recovered from their ordeal.

Well, there’s no possibility of my weeding in the front yard without Charlie and Rosie absolutely losing their minds at being excluded, and standing in the living room barking and barking and barking for me to COME IN NOW. Thus, in spite of the balmy almost-70-degree weather and soft sunshine, I found myself planted on the couch in the living room instead with my pups.

Rosie was happy to nap in the recliner, nursing her sorrow at having a lower incisor pulled (I’m pretty sure it was her favorite one). But it was Charlie who provided the entertainment that made up for missing out on a perfect gardening day.

Poor little guy was exhausted, no doubt from the residual effects of the anesthesia but also from the excitement and drama of the day. But like a three-year-old who does NOT want to go to bed, Beagle was fighting tooth and nail to stay awake, refusing to lie down. As a result, I watched him sit on the opposite side of the couch, his eyes slowly drooping and drooping until they were closed, his little body swaying slightly until he nearly tipped over before jerking awake. And then the cycle would begin again.

He did this all evening.

Only when we took him up to bed with us did he finally allow himself to lie down and then OUT he was in an instant, Rosie curled up beside him on our bed. Normally we let the pups snooze on the bed until we turn out the lights. This time, however, we didn’t have the heart. Thus, Mulch and I clung to the edges of our respective sides of the bed while Charlie and Rosie slept comfortably in the middle, recovering from the stresses of the day.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I dreamed I was planting carrots

For reals. I don't remember the entire dream, but I do remember kneeling on the ground, smoothing a patch of my garden soil, breaking up clumps of dirt, then making the tiny trenches in which to sprinkle my carrot seeds.

I think this means I'm gearing up to plant a vegetable garden after all. As I've mentioned previously, last year started with grand hopes for my most ambitious garden yet, but ended up with dried-out seedlings, no planting, and a garden patch turned into a jungle of weeds. By fall I was so depressed by the state of things, I thought I'd never want to put on my Wellies and pick up my shovel again.

Thankfully, things change, and now I find myself waiting for what's passing for winter around here to pass so that I can start slowly, patiently digging up all those weeds, redigging the borders for my beds, and yes, try again to start my seedlings indoors under the miniature grow lights Mulch Boy got me last year.

I have actually made a start, too! Monday, for the first time in almost a year, I went to the local nursery and bought my vegetable seeds. Seeds! I'm still enough of a neophyte at planting from seed to still be astonished when the seeds actually germinate. "This will never work!" is always in the back of my mind. But surprise, surprise, it does work, and boy is it cheaper than buying all those little plants from the garden center.

How long do seeds last, though? This year I bought new packets of carrots, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, beets, cukes, bell peppers, bush beans, and wax beans. I already had seed packets from years past for all of these, but of course the dates on the labels were long past. I decided to trash the old packets, plus any other seed packets that were more than two years old.

I did, however, keep a good bunch of "outdated" seeds I had bought in the last two years, especially a rather large collection of vegetables and flowers from Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home. At Monticello, they not only maintain the flower and vegetable gardens, they preserve the seeds of specific varieties that Jefferson himself planted, and you can buy them!

These I cannot just toss in the trash. I believe I've read that seeds don't "expire" by the package date, but that the germination rate declines the further you get from the date. So I decided that for the must-have veg of the garden I would use new, more-guaranteed-to work seed, but that I would still try my Monticello seeds, too. Why not? If I don't get a generous crop of Texas bird peppers out of it, my heart won't be broken. But if I get even a few, I will get a huge kick out of the fact that my yard shares some of the same peppers that Jefferson grew. (What I'd really like to grow is some of John Adams' plants. Alas, the Adams National Historic Park doesn't sell seeds.)

Janis Agrees

I can smell Spring just around the corner...

Mulch Boy agrees with Arlo.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Wasteland

Ten months of neglect. My poor garden.

This was not my plan. But as the narrator of “A Christmas Story” said, “Life is like that. Sometimes, at the height of our revelries, when our joy is at its zenith, when all is most right with the world, the most unthinkable disasters descend upon us.”

Luckily, we’ve not suffered unthinkable disasters, just a bunch of illnesses and family issues and basement flooding and gutted vacation and what-not that ended up taking up almost a year of our attention.

Each thing was manageable on its own. But strung together, the tedium of “if it’s not one thing, it’s another” took its toll. After a while, I just wanted to stop thinking for a month or two, hide on the sofa with my puppy dogs, eat chips and dip for dinner (no, I didn’t; Mulch Boy would never allow me), and watch endless episodes of Ultraman.

But then, out of the blue, I found myself suddenly wanting to get off that couch. I looked at my disastrous yard and instead of feeling like I never want to see it again because look what a mess I made of it, I found myself thinking, “One day, weed the small bed; next day, edge the walkway; next day, trim the hydrangeas.”

Suddenly the gardening seems doable again, enjoyable again. Remember when we moved in, when these beds didn’t even exist? And look how nice they were just this last spring! Hey, Adrian Higgins just said in the Post that it’s time to start seedlings indoors!

I just cleaned up the indoor growing setup in the basement.

I cleaned and reorganized the shed.

I bought new loppers.

I think I smell Spring in the air.

Almost Seven Months... a long time between posts, yes?  Luckily, I am chock-full of excuses: a chemical imbalance, three upper respiratory infections, a three-month-long asthma attack, and an emergency root canal.  Don't you feel sorry for me?  Waah waah waaah...