Saturday, November 3, 2007

Tough Day of Gardening

Today we actually had the calendar mostly clear so we actually scheduled to do gardening. Yes, we actually have to schedule time to do this sort of thing. So, after my daughter's early morning soccer game (to which we were late ... we had a slow morning ... but she scored 4 goals! but only after she stopped doing a touchdown dance every time she touched the ball ... funny girl), we headed off to Home Depot to go buy some plants and some bark chips for ground cover.

Coming home, the weather was pretty good -- warm with a good breeze. I spent an hour edging, the last time I expect to do that this year. I gave the grass a close shave by the walls and flower beds (my wife hates that, by the way, but I think it looks good), and then mowed the lawn for the first time in weeks. It needed it badly, as parts of the grass are going brown because the sprinklers haven't been able to water in those areas due to the tall grass. I love my lawn, so that just hurts ... but life's been too crazy lately to do anything more.

Then we had lunch and then we started into the garden area. The entire south side of my house is given over to a garden, and living in Southern California like we do, we can actually have a summer crop and a winter crop. It's still a somewhat foreign concept to me -- having grown up in Utah where the farmers take the winter off, it's weird being able to have a whole other planting season.

We had the two older children help us move rocks, turn the soil, break up chunks of clay-filled dirt, and move up-rooted weeds. I did most of the heavy lifting while turning the soil, and my wife did most of the work with regards to breaking up the dirt, but the kids did contribute as much as could be expected -- it's always a good lesson for them. We could easily get gardeners to take care of our yard for us, but I want my children to learn the binary lesson of care and neglect.

We added "Amend" to the soil; it's a yearly ritual as our dirt around our house is awful and we're trying to make something good out of it. We also put rocks around the garden area to designate "keep-out-zones" for walking in the garden. The kids always love lining up the rocks around the perimeter of the garden, and they do a good job of it.

After leveling the dirt, I took the hoe and made little ditches for the seeds. My oldest son helped me put the seeds down. This winter, we're planting peas, carrots, and beets. We typically plant the first two vegetables, and the third is something we tried last year for the first time with little, but delightful, success. We look forward to a better crop this year.

Planting the seeds for the carrots is always a pain in the neck, though. The seeds are so tiny, and even though the instructions said to leave 4 inches between each seed, I think I got it backwards and put something like 4 seeds in each inch. We'll have to thin them when they start coming up ...

After the garden was finished, my wife also planted some other flowers around the back yard. She's not really happy with the yard right now, so she'll probably be working for several weeks tweaking, replacing, and moving plants until she's satisfied. The results of her finicky gardening is always pleasant, though, so I just mostly stay out of the way and dig holes for her when she asks me to.

We then headed to the front yard where we had several more plants to put in. Our flower bed in front of the house had largely gone to weed, so we spent a little time gutting that then planting a few new experimental plants. I also put down some bark as ground cover to manage the weeds and to keep the moisture in to the soil. One of our trees in that flower bed isn't doing so well -- we need to baby it a little through the "winter." There's still other work to be done there, but we made a lot of progress.

Anyway, it's been a really long day. I'm very tired, but content with the day's work. Any day I get to rip plants out, put down bark, and dig holes (I like it and it's a special talent of mine, okay!) that my wife fills in with pretty plants is always satisfying to me because the results are always so good to look at.

I'll have to do that sometime when the calendar is clear again ...


SeeTheSunshine said...

It's interesting to hear about gardening from a "non-professional". Yep, I consider myself a near professional.

Good luck with your winter crop! Should be great!


Roy. said...

"Non-professional"?! That cracks me up. I admit it, I like to dig holes and can't seem to get my garden to produce to it's capacity. Plus, it seems any tree we plant either suffers miserably before dying on us, or has the bad luck to get blown over by high winds at our house before it can really establish itself. Yep, plants come to our home at their own risk.

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