Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘gardening

Starting Big

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In the beginning, I was asked to build a terrace wall for Cyndie to have a produce garden. Seemed like a good idea to me. We talked about creating two levels in the space she wanted to use, but decided to focus on just the upper level to start. We have never grown our own food before, so I suggested we start small and learn what works in that location.

Just a suggestion.

The other day I saw no less than 21 different names listed in a text where Cyndie described what she has planted.

So, that one terrace I started building has been dwarfed by subsequent construction Cyndie undertook on her own. Fencing and netting, all hers, three different locations.

Plants are in the ground and awaiting some mulch. Woodchips are something I can contribute to her new project. The rest has spun up so quick it makes me dizzy just thinking about it.

When Cyndie bursts headlong into her projects, I tend to get out of the way. I am inclined toward sequential thinking and prone to plotting each step in advance before taking action. Cyndie operates more randomly and takes action simultaneously to figuring out a plan.

I guess we serve as a classic example of the attraction of opposites.

Here’s hoping she meets with an incredible success that exceeds imagination come harvest time.

I’ll be watching to see if my terrace does its job. The rest will be gravy.

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Written by johnwhays

May 22, 2020 at 6:00 am

Not Simple

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We really didn’t plan for this. I picture gardening as digging up some dirt and dropping in some seeds. Cyndie mentioned wanting to grow some of our own food. I’m not one to quickly volunteer for a huge project that only grows more laborious with time, but I was willing to support Cyndie in having a garden.

She suggested the slope and I agreed to create terracing to facilitate. From there, things have slowly evolved to include our simultaneous lumberjacking project to remove marked trees from beneath our preferred mature oaks. There is no longer anything simple about this modest little produce garden.

Yesterday, I finally felled the last, most difficult, trees from beneath the two oaks nearest our house. Only about 27 left to go throughout the rest of our woods.

We are wrestling with placing tree trunks that are almost too heavy to manage in place of creosote-soaked fence posts as the wall in the first terrace. The fact that none of them are as straight as first glance implies throws a real complicating challenge into my attempts to make reality merge with our fantasy of perfect results.

For her part, Cyndie is keeping the pressure on to complete this first terrace with her early planning and execution of starting plants indoors and testing soils.

The first peek of a sprout was from one of her lettuce seeds. I’ve never seen what a lettuce plant looks like when it goes to seed.

We now have data on the nitrogen, phosphorous, potash, and acidity levels in the clay-dominant soil on the slope, as well as in three different locations where we have stores of composted manure. Our hope is to combine the best of each to build a premium growing environment in this first terrace.

Seeing how involved this has become is a classic revelation of why I am not quick to jump on board with every idea that pops up. Sure, I’d love to have fresh food from a garden of our own, but can we get there by just digging up some dirt and throwing in a few seeds?

I guess it’s not that simple.

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Written by johnwhays

May 3, 2020 at 10:06 am

Feeling Summer

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I like the simple designation of meteorological seasons by month, over the astrological solstice and equinox markers. My brain senses the longest day should mark the middle of summer and the shortest day, the middle of winter. By meteorological reference, summer happens in June, July, and August.

It sure felt like summer on the second day of June this year. Last night, as we tried to cool the house by opening windows to the evening air, the enticing sounds of heavy, distant rumbling thunder rolled slowly closer and closer. Eventually, we enjoyed an almost gentle thunderstorm that this morning has left barely a trace of its visit.

Except for the amazing response of growing things. Our landscape is under siege.

Just beyond our deck, the previous prominent low spruce is getting swallowed by ferns from behind and volunteer cedar trees from the front. The clematis on our trellis is being crowded out by a volunteer maple that decided to make itself at home there.

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I don’t understand why the scotch pine to the left of the trellis is so anemic. Everything around it is growing fast and furious. It is possibly being hindered by the same affliction taking down so many of our long needle pines.

The ornamental reeds in our little garden pond are spreading themselves well beyond the edges, giving the impression they will soon fill the space if left unhampered.

Meanwhile, the climbing vines are voraciously trying to blanket all of our trees, the unwanted grasses taking over our pastures, and poison ivy is thriving like you wouldn’t believe.

What’s a gardener to do? I tend to prefer a hands-off approach to the nature-scape, but we are finding the land inundated with invasives and trouble-makers that require decisive action. Desirables like maple trees are sprouting in places where they don’t belong, and though prized, will become problems if neglected.

I must overcome my reluctance and sharpen my skills of seek and destroy, or at least aggressively prune, prune, prune.

In the same way we wish broccoli tasted like chocolate, Cyndie and I are wishing the desired plants would simply crowd out weeds to the point all we needed to do would be a little cutting of the grass and lounging in the garden.

All you folks wanting to suggest we get some goats… it is increasingly weighing on my mind. Maybe I will try renting some for a trial run.

There just aren’t enough hours in a day for us to manage the explosion of growth summer brings.

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Written by johnwhays

June 3, 2017 at 9:02 am