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Yard work

Started: 2010-05-13 07:55:53

Submitted: 2010-05-13 08:38:35

Visibility: World-readable

The advent of spring meant my yard started calling my name, trying to entice me into giving it the care and attention it demanded. I succumbed to its siren call on the first weekend in May, while still recovering from my nasty spring cold. My first mission was to cut back the dead wood on my shrub roses; over the past two winters significant portions of the above-ground growth on my roses froze in the winter and needed to be cut back in spring. (I thought about wrapping my shrubs to protect them from the worst of the winter cold but didn't get around to it last fall, and the winter's coldest freeze came early in the winter.) I cut back the dead branches, made a few more strategic pruning cuts, and augmented the soil with compost from my compost bin and high-phosphorus fertilizer. (This was organic bone-meal fertilizer, which proves that my roses are not vegan.) My lilac bushes, on the west side of my house, did not loose any branches. I composted and fertilized around them, then turned to my compost bin itself. Since installing it in November 2007, it's been a great place to put kitchen scraps (reducing our kitchen trash volume by approximately one-half) but I hadn't performed much maintenance on it. I unloaded the contents of the compost bin onto a tarp, from top to bottom, going from recent additions at the top to dark rich compost at the bottom, then rebuilt the bin, giving its contents time to mingle and aerate.

Emboldened by my success in the yard, Kiesa and I decided to try to build our container garden. Last year, being entirely occupied by Calvin, the only garden we cultivated were the herbs that grew spontaneously from the pots left over from the previous year. After Calvin's nap on Sunday (the second day of May), we headed out to lunch at Snarf's (Kiesa and I fed Calvin little toddler-bite-sized pieces of our sandwiches), then visited The Flower Box for seedlings for our garden. (We had planned on doing this while Calvin was being watched by his babysitter, but she was running a fever and called to cancel.) Calvin enjoyed toddling around the greenhouse and looking at the plants. Kiesa picked up a collection of herbs and a few tomatoes, and I picked up three peppers of various descriptions.

Back at home, Kiesa took care of Calvin (which, I believe, involved a video-conference with Grandma) and I redistributed the potting soil in our pots, augmented the pots with compost, planted the seedlings, and moved all of the pots into the garage to ward off the night's forecast frost. It turned out that wasn't the frost I needed to worry about; we got actual snow on Thursday night, which killed off all of the vegetables and basil but left the rosemary, cilantro, and a few other herbs.

The frost turned out to not be the only hazard facing our container garden. While toddling around the deck, Calvin discovered the dirt inside the potted plants, and while it appears to not live up to his demanding culinary standards, he still enjoys throwing it around. I found a bag of paving sand in the garage (which I had acquired but didn't need when I repaired the small brick patio below my deck) and built a small sand box, which does seem to amuse Calvin. Our new plan is to mount the smaller pots on the deck railing, out of Calvin's reach (but still within the reach of my drip irrigation system), and to place the larger pots on a planting bed at the edge of the brick patio. I believe this will be my project for this weekend.