Biomass

It’s Saturday. That has, for many years, meant that I go for a big bike ride. But with the return of my virus and taking Thursday and Friday off this week again, I decided to skip the big ride. I tried going out by myself, but after a couple hours just felt tired and gross and it was clearly time to go home to rest.

Which I did, for several hours.

After which, this happened.

Before:
Assault the Jungle: Start
Benji rightly dubbed it “The Jungle,” an area on the side of the house (the opposite side from the Meadow of Goodness, in case you’re wondering) harboring weeds taller than myself, plus a density of weed undergrowth that cannot be overstated. I shudder to think of all the creatures living in there, too.

Originally I cleared this area and planted it with some wildflower seeds, just to see what would come up. What I got was a 10:1 weed:wildflower ratio — no fault of the seed packet, I’m sure; I simply didn’t go out and combat the weeds at all.

Silly me.

Now, after a couple years, the Jungle harbors this pernicious vine that keeps trying to take over our yard; I don’t know what it is [EDIT TO ADD: It is birdsfoot trefoil, Lotus corniculatus, apparently a good and useful fodder for various animals in pastures, but NOT IN MY YARD], but it has these yellow flowers that grow in clumps, and clumps of five leaves and then a big gap. It alone comprises probably 50% of the biomass in The Jungle. I’ve been slowly trying to get rid of it every time I find it in my yard, but it’s everywhere and it grows through the ground and then pops up, making it incredibly difficult to remove. I can’t truly eliminate it, at least not at this time; there’s too much, and I can’t get down to pull every root when it’s literally filling the side yard to a height of 4 feet everywhere as it grows on top of all the other plants and itself.

No, this was a quick and dirty assault to yank out anything anywhere near or involved with the yellow vine, along with the vine itself. The yard waste bin started out empty, so I decided to just go until it was full.

Assault the Jungle: The End

This took about an hour and a half, during which time I probably inhaled a week’s worth of pollen (sorry, immune system!) and got covered with a full body velcroing of burrs.

I also discovered a day lily, which has these lovely deep red and orange flowers, and several very nice ferns of a couple different varieties. I’m guessing those will all be happier not to be covered in yellow flower vines.

Assault the Jungle: The Jungle Fights Back
Those are my gloves after I stopped, but I had been picking burrs off at regular intervals, so that’s not the total accumulated amount. Next time I’m going in with jeans, long sleeves tucked in, and a face mask. Seriously.

I don’t know when I’ll get back to finish the assault, but still more of that darn vine remains. I will not rest until it’s eradicated from my yard! …OK, I will rest, but I will also keep pulling vines now and again.

Planting a Rainbow Garden

Today Benji and I planted a rainbow garden. At least, it might, if we’re really lucky, grow into something like a rainbow garden. What is a rainbow garden? It’s what you get when you plant seeds for these flowers.

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We started with red up by the house and ended with purple/blue down by the sidewalk. Goodness knows what will actually happen — we picked everything from nasturtiums to delphiniums, entirely based on color (and light/soil requirements). So we’ll end up with a really interesting front yard this year, I’m thinking.

In related news, before obtaining the seeds, we visited the French Bakery in Woodinville for the first, but definitely not the last, time. It really was better that I didn’t know about this place before.

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And, at the plant store, we also looked at other things. Especially the water features, which Benji loved and I thought were almost universally supremely tacky.
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Green Thumbing

Lately Benji has decided he likes to be “Benji Yard Waste Man.” In this game, an adult pulls weeds or cuts grass, and then Benji picks up the detritus and throws it into the big yard waste bin. We set up the step stool so he can reach in the top. The great thing about this game is that, as a result, a significant portion of our yard has gotten weeded.

We have a rock wall along one side of our property, and adjacent to this is a bare strip that we mulch, but it doesn’t have any plants. It’s very sunny but wet and seepy, and has virtually no top soil above the underlayment of solid clay. In short, terrible growing conditions, except for weeds, which thrive there.

It’s taken me a long time, probably because I’m not garden-oriented in the least, but finally I had the idea of planting some mixed flower seeds there. Benji helped me weed this patch the other day – it was astonishingly lush weed growth, much to Benji’s delight – and I bought and planted seeds yesterday, while the area was still clear.

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I picked mixes that are supposed to attract hummingbirds and butterflies, but I have no idea whether they’ll grow. Most say to plant before the last frost, which was some time ago. But I’m going to keep watering that patch and just see what comes up. Anything with flowers works for me.

In the same gardening session, I transplanted a camellia from the back yard, a spot it’s never done well, to the front yard where another camellia has done well. The new one is on the right.

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So, we’ll just generally water copiously and hope for the best.

Gardening is Not My Forte

Day’s Verse:
You lazy fool, look at an ant.
Watch it closely; let it teach you a thing or two.
Nobody has to tell it what to do.

Proverbs 6:6-ish

Yesterday, another dry but slightly more overcast day, I planted 15 new strawberry plants as a ground cover for the edge of the rain garden. That accounts for a little more than half of the area needed to be covered. I figured we might as well plant something delicious, since we have to put something in. Hopefully that doesn’t backfire and cover our yard in strawberries… but I figure, there are worse things to have take over your yard. I also have some strawberries in a raised bed, and now I’m kind of wishing I’d put something else there. Maybe I should do some other food, like lettuces or something, along the remaining length of the rain garden. Hmm.

I also took some steps to revive the camellia we transplanted into the front yard last summer. It’s got lots of flower buds, but ever since we planted it, the leaves have slowly been turning yellower. I thought perhaps it was shocked by the transplanting, so I waited over the winter to see if it improved; nope. So I’m trying fertilizer and compost, per the expert Molbak’s advice. I don’t want it to die, because the flowers are pretty — a simple reason, I guess, but generally I’m bad with plants, and I rarely make an effort to rescue sick plants. It’s saying a lot that I put in any effort for this one.

And, in our final plant-related news, the rain garden plants have started sprouting. I have to admit, it feels miraculous to me. We got them in late December as mere twigs — twigs in lots of dirt. Nary a spot of leafiness, even last season’s leaves still hanging on. But with hope, I planted them very carefully, according to rain garden-planting directions I have. The sedges started showing new growth first, but now almost everything (except the ferns, which I expect to die) have started showing small new leaves. I mean, yes, they still look like twigs, but they’re clearly living twigs, with the potential to become a lovely natural green space in suburbia. Of course, I still need to keep them alive through the summer.

Despite the fact that I’m not good at gardening and have minimal interest in yard work (with the result that our yard looks mediocre at best), I still continue to try to improve it incrementally. Maybe in another 10 or 15 years we’ll have something I genuinely like to see when I look out the window.