Sunday, June 17, 2012

Adventures in Gardening

So I've mentioned that yard work isn't really our thing.  We have a crappy house in a crappy neighborhood.  We do not have a lot of money, and we have prioritized what we do have so that we are spending it on things that are meaningful to us and that we enjoy.  Keeping up with the Joneses is not on the agenda.

Every now and then, though, I go on a stereotypical why can't we have nice things? rampage.  I'll be reminded of people who have less means than us, but lovely yards or gardens or homes or whatever.  Maybe they don't have top of the line things, but they put the work in.  They put the hours in.  I start to think - well - we don't have the money to pour into the ideal of the beautifully landscaped and manicured suburban dream lawn - but that's no reason to completely resign ourselves.  Tom is kind of an all or nothing guy, but I am not.  I like to think of myself as more of a do the best with what you've got kind of guy.

Sometimes that goes terribly wrong.

The first spring that we lived here, I wanted wildflowers.  How hard can wildflowers be?  They grow on the sides of the interstate, for Pete's sake.  You don't have to patiently cultivate wildflowers.  So I chose a very small patch in the back yard and I pulled up the turf and sprinkled some seeds and built a little border from small stones I'd found elsewhere in the yard.  I watered it when I thought about it and in almost no time at all I had a completely random profusion of wildflowers.  Which was kind of the effect I was going for.  I had cut flowers in the house that whole summer.  I thought it was pretty, although not everyone agreed.  It was crowded and arbitrary and undisciplined.  It suited me.

The next summer, a few of the flowers came back, but it was sparse.  I didn't reseed it.  It became more weed than wild.  I chalked it up as a fail and turned my attentions elsewhere.

Because I had blocked it off, first with stones and later with railroad ties, the fine folks from TruGreen won't touch it.  The thistles have been known to grow to shoulder height before I get around to pulling them.  Nasty muthas that they are.

A year or two ago I decided that I was going to put pavers in in that spot so that we could move the grill there and give ourselves a little extra deck space.  I worked hard on it for a couple days - digging up weeds and stone and trying to level this tiny area.  I gave up.  It was harder than it sounded.  No one would help, because they'd all thought it folly to begin with.  It was abandoned.  Weeds now grow in the plastic tub in which I was collecting the rocks.

Now, when I do get a bug up my butt about fixing up the yard, it's one of the areas where we just don't even know where to start.  It is a complete disaster.  The space where I'd made an effort to create something beautiful turned into something completely unmanageable.

At least it's a small space.

The same cannot be said for what was once our vegetable garden.

No halfway for us.  We cleared a huge portion of our back yard and fenced it, sinking the posts in concrete.  We followed all of the rules and had a beautiful vegetable garden.  One year.  We probably spent as much for plants as we would have for vegetables from the farmer's market for the entire summer.  But that's beside the point.  It was a trip to be able to put a whole meal together just by walking to the backyard with a basket.  We had marigolds bordering three sides of the garden to discourage any critters able to make it under the fence.  We had sunflowers along the back wall.  We had several rows of tomatoes and peppers in many different varieties.  We had herbs. We had eggplant and zucchini and even carrots.

It was hard work, it was beautiful, and it was awesome.

We hadn't realized that it would be exactly the same amount of work the next year.  I think I thought that once we had the area dedicated we would just have to go in and replant the following year.  I was wrong, of course, as you probably already know.  We planted about half of that garden the next year and weeds took over the rest.  I kept after them half-heartedly.  The following year, we left the weeds take over completely.  Such spectacular weeds took up residency.  We called it our butterfly garden, because it attracted butterflies and tiny birds like crazy.  It was an eyesore and we knew it, but we spun it and made it work for us.

For a year.

Then we just abandoned hope.  We knew we'd never bother with a garden again.  We took down the fence, but still have those posts defining the area, making it difficult to mow down the weeds.  Again, because it was not a part of the lawn when we contracted with TruGreen, they don't touch it.  Tom and I often say the only thing it's missing is a car on cinder blocks.  We're only kind of kidding.

There have been other attempts, failures and abandonments.  None of them quite so grand, though.  I think you get the picture.  It's the enthusiastic attempts to make things better that tend to result in making things so much worse.

You would think, perhaps, that the lesson was learned.

But no.

Last week I went on a little martyr-driven spree.  I weeded another of those little this-was-gonna-be-a-cool-feature-until-it-was-abandoned areas and then noticed a vine growing on the side of the house.  On it - in it - it was under the siding and all the way up to the second floor.  It's a cool effect on an old stone  building but on and in my vinyl siding it was less ivy league and more weeds growing right in and through an abandoned car.  On cinder blocks.  So I pulled.  It was stubborn.  I fought and won.  Well, at least as high as I could reach.  "I will dominate you, you stupid green bitch!" may or may not have been actually uttered out loud.

As I write this, a week later, my typing is interrupted sporadically for a mad scratching session.   


Welcome to the Poison Ivy League.

The first signs showed up Wednesday.  Today, Sunday, it has pretty much migrated everywhere - including my face.  It's getting hard to open my mouth on one side, the swelling is so bad.

This is crazy stuff.

THIS is what happens when I try to improve my yard.

I.  Give.  Up.

(till next time)


Plaid23 said...

Yikes! Just yesterday I was considering taking up vegetable gardening some time in the future. This post humbled me. I hope you get that poison ivy looked at and get better soon.

Take care,
Mark Plaid

Eva Gallant said...

You've convinced me to just let the weeds have at it in our flower bed!

Pam said...

I gave up on my yard years ago. To me yard work is just that WORK! Which I try to avoid at all costs! LOL!

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Oh my gawk. Proves once again that no good deed goes unpunished. but you deserve better than poison ivy!!!

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Oops. gawd. Oh my gawd. Although gawking might fit the situation, too.

Joanna Jenkins said...

Oh NO!!!!! i sure felt your pain on trying to keep up with a garden-- Jees-sus, they are a lot more work than you'd ever expect them to be. I've tried and after a few years realized my tiny crop of tomatoes coast me about $125 each-- So I too, gave up.

But poison ivy-- Nasty.... Grrr. I hope by the time you read this you are 100% better.

xo jj

Keeping In Touch said...

I am totally agree with your information hope you will be update your blog..
Thank you for post..

Keeping In Touch

carma said...

yard work can be hazardous. that's why I don't do it.

Hope you are doing better.