Film – Plan B

I took a moment this weekend to reflect on the garden. Here is a picture from earlier this week, our pond with some complementary ducks:

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And then the pool company came over…

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Chris thinks we will be able to swim in it before we go away, but, unless I find an affordable wet suit for toddlers, I am severely doubting it.

Back to the rest of the yard. Each year we set an achievable goal and a budget for the yard. Two years ago it was the fence towards the neighbor’s house, last year it was clearing out the side. This year it was pruning and removing trees which we have had done a few weeks ago. This left me with very small budget to do anything else so I restricted myself with only purchasing mulching. Two weeks and ten bags of mulch later, this is done.

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I haven’t mulched in about four years so mulching made our front yard a bit more presentable. Good thing that dandelions are coming back in style, I have no intention of doing anything about them on a large scale. There is a bungalow around the corner selling for over half a million dollars. A four bedroom, unfinished basement bungalow for crying out loud! It is on a busy street and, apart from being newly renovated, there is not even anything terribly special about it. I really don’t think that our neighborhood needs my help to look any fancier than it already does.

Ok, back from ranting. Now I have an overgrown weedy yard and no budget. This is when things get exciting…

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The original dirt in our yard is really bad. It is clay so compacted that I broke a pitchfork (metal part of it) without even trying to dig deeper than 10 centimeters. It is so dense there are no worms in the soil. The previous owners did apparently buy some better dirt to put over it, but it looks like they only used this to raise beds for landscaping, rather than to improve the conditions for the vegetation. As the result, a lot of the shrubs and smaller trees are sick and there are more weeds than perennials. These poor guys are sick little trees:

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This year I will not try and shape them like I did in the past. I am going to let them grow as they will and see if they improve by next year. If they don’t improve I will have to cut them down.

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To the credit of the woman who sold me the house, I think she would buy a truckload of annuals every year, but I am just not at a point in my life where I think annuals are a good idea. I am too busy to grow my own from seed (I will re-start doing this in a year or two) and too cheap frugal to buy them grown. In any case, I am stuck with at least one major garden bed that is, from the horticultural point of view, completely unusable. I could have bought a truck load of compost last year and rototilled it when we rented a bobcat, but it was just not in the budget. My actual strategy is to dig a small part of it every year, plant something new there and observe the results. Last year I bought two shrubs and half a dozen perennials and it looks like they all came back this year. This year I quickly dug another hole and planted tomatoes I got from Maria. Trevor got some pumpkin seeds at a birthday party last week so we planted those in the remaining holes.

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If you can spot the bent trowel in the above pictures you will know where the pumpkin seeds are planted. Trowel is bent because I attempted to dig in the clay. Silly me. Also, Trevor only planted the first five seeds. After that, he decided he would rather wash rocks in my watering can. Gardening with a three year old is as exciting as it is unpredictable. I did not mean to plant vegetables in the flower bed, but I really don’t care where they are planted, and I was not terribly interested in getting new perennials until I see how the ones I got last year fare by the end of the summer.

Another issue with gardening in my yard are the weeds. The thorny ones get pulled out as soon as I can get to them. The rest I am more philosophical about. Up until last year, I hated forget-me-nots, because they spread like wildfire and, once they are out of bloom, look horrible. This year, I have completely embraced them. They are supper pretty in bloom and very easy to pull out once they are done blooming. Once they are pulled out, they leave nice patches of ground unpolluted by other weeds and are short enough not to kill perennials. I am considering changing my opinion on the small yellow flower weed in the back of the above bed (are they buttercups?). They are much more difficult to pull out, but once I improve the soil and plant taller, leafier perennials they should be short enough to be pushed out by the incomers while still providing some shade and interest as a ground cover.

Charissa brought me some more perennials yesterday, but after I plant that, I will be done with the garden for the spring. Chris, on the other hand, has a few projects of his own. He is going to repair the birdhouse and make a little play area with sandbox for the kids.

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