About Me

My photo
Montgomery, Alabama, United States
I'm a Zone 8. I'm doing a little gardening to satisfy a curiosity to see whether or not I can do it. People make it look so easy-- what's stopping me from making it work? Contrary to my name ("Hana" means flower in Japanese) I have a history of killing plants. Well, most of them. Let's see how this one goes!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Too much text, not enough pictures

Wow, it's been a little while! No pictures to update this time since I have been busy in the gardening and lazy with the creative stuff.

The truth is that I ache. Pretty badly. The boyfriend tells me that means I must be doing something right because, to him (a string-bean-thin exercise nut), pain is a good thing. All I know is that there are apparently muscles in my fingers that I have never ever used before and that I have discovered them through my toils this week. My left hand is feeling the brunt of the pain because it's the more useless of the two and has never even held a fork, much less a shovel.

To sum it up, I have been busily:

1. Pulling up Bermuda grass to make way for a garden plot, completely ignoring my previous plan for a carefree lasagna garden

2. Again with the abandoning of the lasagna simplicity, digging up the nice tightly-packed clay soil that comprises where the beds will be

3. Cheerlessly pulling out rocks

4. Hoping to God that the roots I am cutting out do not belong to a black walnut tree

Numero 4 is pretty important to me because if there is indeed black walnut in the earth where I am digging, then pretty much all of my toils will be for naught. I am sort of bracing myself for the disappointment of juglone-poisoned tomatoes, beans, okra, basil, oregano-- well, basically everything single thing I want to plant in that spot. I am starting to wonder what sort of maniacs would *want* to plant a walnut tree in their yard, much less two-- possibly more. The two I know for sure are butted up next to my neighbor's fence on the north side of the yard and kills their veggie patch when it decides to drop fruit and lose its leaves. I know there is at least one pecan tree next to the eastern fence which reaches into the other neighbor's yard and I am hoping that the mystery tree next to it is also a pecan. My neighbor tells me that the walnuts are only 4 years old (the house is well over 20, the current owner has been here 3) so obviously in a spurt of madness the former owners thought YES I WANT TO GUARANTEE THAT NO FUTURE TENANTS CAN EVER GARDEN HERE EVER AGAIN. EVER. LET'S BUY BLACK WALNUT TREES. How vindictive and evil.

Back to expending massive amounts of effort that may yield very little gain-- I have spent two days with a little spade digging up about 100~ish square feet of clay and limestone rocks. I want to find a way to smash through the limestone, as I came upon it about 2-3 inches down to my dismay. Since it's pretty brittle and shallow, a hammer and something spiky might work just to crack it enough to extract with the spade, but I am wondering if I am going to have get all Seven Dwarfs on it with like, a pickaxe or sledge hammer (things that I do not own but may have to borrow from the landscapingerly neighbor across the street). I hope it does not come down to that.

As for my plants, they are doing surprisingly well. I spent last Wednesday out and about with my sister, and as the temperatures reached around 80+ degrees, I came home to find that my hasty and careless watering of my tomato plants early in the day had left them yellow and crispy because of the droplets left on the leaves boiling off in the heat. Whoops. But tomatoes are nothing if not resilient, and after a much needed repotting and several days of cooler air and cloud cover, they're doing much much better and have popped out with some new leaves. I have mystery peppers and tomatoes growing-- the former makes me happy, the latter makes me sigh because I will have an overabundance of tomato seedlings that may end up homeless.

But back to consternation-- while digging I have disturbed an alarming array of insects that will want to eat my plants. Earwigs like whoa skitter around the cutworm pupae, which roll lazily out of the dirt mounds like big brown seeds. It's so gross that I cannot even begin to describe it without clenching in revulsion. Everyone says to put collars on the seedlings or to stick straws and toothpicks next to the stems to prevent the cutworms from wrapping their fat, pulsating jellysack bodies around the tender and delicious stems. And then the earwigs-- oh GOD the earwigs-- I hear a pan of cooking oil will finish them off. I wonder how well that works, and for how long. There are pillbugs, grasshoppers, crickets, and all sorts of other fauna that remind me why it is that I never took up gardening in the first place. And then I anticipate the gastropod onslaught. Can I overcome nature? I sure hope so. At least I don't have fire ants in my backyard (knocking persistently on wood with that one).

And then the happy-- there are bags of compost, topsoil, and mulch in the backyard, waiting to be used. I have lots of leaves from the front yard and the prospect of (almost) free hay from a local stables. We'll see how that one goes. But today? Thunderstorms. The rest of the week should be sunny, but today it's heavy heavy rains enthusiastically flooding my clayey soils. Although it will make it orders of magnitude more difficult to shovel the remainder of the garden, I get a day off to do like, real chores. And for that, I (and my crippled hands) are ever so grateful.


Amy said...

I *love* the sense of humor in your blog header!

The pickaxe is your best friend, trust me :) I have very heavy clay soil *full* of rocks - here is is technically called "compacted glacial till". Our shovel was totally useless. Our neighbor watched us for a little while and then offered to lend us his pickaxe. After using his we bought our own and I use it all the time. I find the best thing is to loosen up the "soil" (if you can call it that!) with the pickaxe and then use the shovel to dig it out.

I can sympathize with the aching muscles, lol! You'll be in lean, mean shape by the time you're done :)

Rachel said...

Your garden weblog is delightful! I'm so glad I found it.

Rachel @ in bloom

hanako! said...

Amy-- I have to say that I got lazy with the pickaxe idea, even if it may have been more of a boon than a bane to the garden (that and the boyfriend and I decided $15 was a bit much for a garden implement that would only be used once (maybe twice, if things were to go awry between us). BUT if we owned this house, we'd probably have gotten it. I envy the glacial soils, though-- you guys must have some rich deposits up there!

Rachel-- thanks! I'll try to update more often, now that people read it :D;;; Augh, the perils of advertising your blog-- you have to actually update it frequently!