Husband and I returned home last Tuesday from Brookings to a garden jungle of weeds. It rained every day we were gone, and the temperatures were quite warm, so everything grew. We weeded on Wednesday. Husband estimated we hauled about 50 pounds of weeds to the city grass clippings and weeds dumpsters,
I have never seen the utility of using a hoe to weed. It just cuts the weeds off at the top, and leaves the roots to produce the weeds again. We are hands and knees, crawl through the garden and pull the weeds up by the roots sort of gardeners. We are, however, getting older and Husband has neuropathy in his fingers from diabetes.
This year we tried a new strategy, laying down newspapers between the rows and on the edges of the beds and covering them with a layer of top soil. That really helped keep the weeds down. Husband has bought at least 30 bags of topsoil toward this endeavor, and after weeding yesterday he liberally strewed newspaper and dirt in all the places he hadn’t before. It was a real pleasure to gaze at the garden yesterday and see nary a weed.
What is your favorite garden tool? What special satisfaction do you get from gardening?
Husband and I have a friend in town who we have been helping with her garden. I will call her Kay. She is in her early 60’s, has never married, and lives with her 90 year old mother. Kay is a college graduate. She has held teaching jobs in small communities in our region, but mainly lived at home.
Kay has lived under her mother’s power and control her whole life. Her mother is failing now, and in poor health, and yet still tries to boss Kay. They have an enormous vegetable garden and many flower beds impractically designed by her mother, that Kay is expected to keep the way her mother wants. All the gardening must be done the way her mother expects, and she better not spend too much money on anything, or water more than every two weeks. Her mother never taught her to garden, however. (I should also add that she and her mother are devout Baptists and leading lights in the area WCTU. )
Kay has stopped asking her mother how to keep up the flower beds, and takes our advice regarding soil preparation, plant varieties, soaker hoses, and equipment. She bought twelve bags of peat moss without her mother’s permission and had Little Nick come with his tiller to work it into the vegetable garden. (Little Nick is 3 ft tall, about 60 years old, and as mean as a snake. He has gardening equipment especially adapted for his height.) She put down soaker hoses, and waters when the plants need it. She even bought a wheel barrow.
I see gardening as a way for Kay to have a quiet revolution and become liberated from her mother. I know at a certain level that she has allowed her mother to treat her this way, but it is hard to get yourself out of situations like this that have gone on for so long. We are making sure she doesn’t become too dependent on us. We also put her in touch with the Regional Aging Services coordinator to discuss Power of Attorney and care taker support. I don’t think I will ever be able to take her out for a drink, but those twelve bags of peat moss are a real positive sign.
Who have you known who was overcontolled by someone else? What other rebellious advice would you have for our friend?
Well, the dog may be happy and the garden is really thriving and my kitchen floor is spectacularly clean, but I can’t say that my lower legs are particularly flourishing with furlough and shelter-in-place.
Two weeks ago I dropped my bow saw putting it away and it scrapped my leg below the knee, so I have seven ½” long wounds, nicely healing but still a bit pink. I have a bruise just below my left knee – I really have no idea how I got that one. I have a nice gash from a rock that whipped its way out of the lawn mower and at least five various pokes from crawling around on mulch while weeding.
The spot that’s bothering me is the bug bite that I got on Thursday – it actually looks like two bites right next to each other, so it probably happened when I kneeled on something, but it itches like the devil and is still red after a few days. Lots of Benadryl gel helps some. Neosporin and a bandaid felt good this morning but I figure I’ve got a couple more days until it’s healed up.
I’m not sure if I should just give up my lucrative leg modeling contract or start wearing long pants while I garden.
Any unintended consequences lately in your life?
The alarm clock went off at the crack of dawn. The woman who answered the phone at the berry farm the day before had said that they had been very busy the first week that the strawberries were ready for picking. (I guess strawberries are the new toilet paper.) I wanted to be there when they opened so threw on my shorts and shirt and got a move on.
The berry farm was doing a good job with the covid restrictions: everyone got a good spray of sanitizer on their hands before and after going into the field, masks were strongly encouraged, containers brought from home were strictly forbidden and they put us in every other row of berries. And we were told in no uncertain terms that this year we could not sample berries as we picked. I had thought I would be irritated by wearing a mask while picking berries, but soon my knees and ankles took my mind off it. It was a beautiful morning and I found that none of the restrictions bothered me at all – although I will admit that with folks in every other row, I wasn’t able to eavesdrop on other folks’ berry patch conversations like usual!
The berries were great and I managed to overfill my two flats just as I got to the end of my row. Having gotten there so early, I got home early and had 14 jars of jam and 8 quarts of frozen berries processed by 10:30! I had been worried that the pandemic would wreck my annual strawberry routine, but the berry farm did a great job of getting safely on with business!
When was the last time you set your alarm clock? Do you even HAVE an alarm clock? What kind?
In 1892, on this date, macadamia nuts were first planted in Hawaii. They are native to Australia. This was a rather a successful combination, and Hawaii was a leader in macadamia nuts until South Africa took over that role in 2010.
I am not a great fan of macadamias, preferring pecans and pistachios. When I think about successful combinations, I think about hazelnuts in Oregon, wine grapes in France, and potatoes in Ireland. I suppose there could be successful combinations with people, too, such as Julia Child in Paris.
What is your favorite nut? What are some successful combinations that you can think of?
We decided to try something different in the garden this year, and are mounding dirt up to almost the top inches of the potato plants. I don’t remember any of my relatives doing this, but we have seen others do it, and decided to give it a try. It is supposed to increase your potato yield. The guys in husband’s Friday morning Bible study were pretty skeptical when he told them about it, but just the other day I drove past a garden where someone had done it. I suppose it would be difficult to do if you had a whole lot of potato plants, but we only have eight hills, so it is doable.
The garden is coming along pretty well, although it has been battered by the relentless southeast winds we had lately. We need rain. There are a couple of errant bunnies who are leaving all the greens alone. I keep my eye on them, as do the dogs who live in the on three sides of our house.
Given all the recent weirdness, stress, and uproar in the world, I would rather stay home and pull weeds all day instead of go to work. Gardening is a refuge right now
How is your garden coming along? How are you coping?
I was out in the garden weeding after work yesterday when the children from next door came over to help me. (They were remarkably helpful and pulled all the right weeds and none of the vegetables.) They were so excited to tell me that they were sleeping in the back yard in a tent with their dad that night. Sure enough, there was a tent in the back yard with sleeping bags and pillows. We did the same with our children in the back yard. It was so much fun!
I have the fondest memories of outdoor summer sleeping in various venues-with cousins, with friends, with my dad. What a wonderful thing to do!
What are your Summer sleeping-out memories? What are other Summer night memories?
The wooden frame in the header photo is one of three that Husband and I constructed on Sunday. They will have poultry netting stapled to them and then will be connected to posts in the garden and will serve as pea fences. They are 12 X 5 feet and we constructed them with cedar slats, bolts, washers, and nuts. I got a new Dewalt battery operated drill out of the deal.
It took us somewhat longer to construct them than we anticipated, as we had the invaluable help of a 4 year old boy and his 6 year old sister, our next door neighbors. (Their dad was constructing wooden planters in his garage, and I think he was glad the kids were with us.) They find whatever we do to be absolutely fascinating, and they were so excited to help us. They fitted the bolts with washers, put the bolts through the holes, waited impatiently as Husband and I fitted the slats together, and then they secured the bolts with another washer and nuts. It took some patience on our part to make our instructions clear and wait while those little fingers got everything connected and screwed down, but they were having so much fun!
The 4 year old is quite a conversationalist, and asked lots of questions about all sorts of things, each question beginning “Mrs. Dr. Boomgaarden, what is . . . .?” His sister assured me that they would help us when ever we needed them, and would we be home working outside tomorrow, and then her brother cemented our friendship by asking when we were going to have a sleepover at our house? He seemed to think that it was a very reasonable thing to do. I told him we couldn’t because Husband snored and no one would be able to sleep, but I was very touched. We must be friends!
Tell about some of your friends and what makes them special. Who were your favorite adults when you were a child?
We were asked to go fishing on Lake Sakakawea on Saturday with a colleague and his sweetie. He is in his 70’s, still works at my agency as a psychologist, and loves to fish. He has a rather nice boat, about 20 feet long, with a live well, windshield, and comfortable seating. It had been a couple of years since we had gone fishing with him, and he was excited to spend some time with us. He has been working from home since the virus struck, and has felt rather isolated. It is a two hour drive up to the lake on oilfield highways, and we planned to leave about 6:00 am. We were in charge of the lunch, and I had prepared Baboon Joanne’s Southwest Salad, rhubarb muffins, banana bread, and ham and beef sandwiches.
At 5:00 AM, our friend phoned and said he was in too much pain from bone spurs in his neck, and he had to cancel the trip. I felt sorry for him, but I was so happy we didn’t have to go. I don’t like boats, I especially don’t like boats on big lakes, and I find fishing unutterably boring. Husband likes to fish, and I didn’t want to disappoint him or our friend, so I was prepared to go along and do my best to have a good time. I may not have had any siblings, but I don’t want to act like the stereotypical spoiled only child. (Only children aren’t any more spoiled and self centered than any other children, as a rule, but we have to combat these inaccurate stereotypes.)
We spent the day in the garden Saturday and got a lot of things done around the house. We had lots of good food already prepared. It was a good day.
When have you been relieved lately? What do you put up with out of love and affection?
It’s been cold the last couple of mornings. The sweatpants are back and for those morning walks with Guinevere, I’ve even reverted to adding a sweatshirt to my sweatpants/t-shirt ensemble. And socks – quelle sacrilege! It’s almost like we need a word for this transition season… not quite summer yet, although it should be. Maybe “sprummer”?
Anyway, even if it’s cold, the walks are glorious because my favorite flower is starting to bloom, not just in my yard but all over the neighborhood – the irises have arrived! I’m not sure why the iris is my favorite. My mom wasn’t an iris fan, but I do remember going to the Missouri Botanical Garden growing up and seeing bed after bed of glorious blooms. In my yard I have pretty much every color, including an orange variety called “orange crush”, although not all the colors have bloomed yet.
This morning looking at a garden full of pale yellow beauties in a yard around the corner, it made me think of a pretty haiku I found a few years ago by a Japanese woman who lived in the 17th century:
Waking from my dream:
what a color
were the iris flowers
Do you have a favorite flower? Or a favorite haiku about a flower?