Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Growing Challenge: Yardwork

The only real downside to being a gardener is that gardening is a gateway drug to...more gardening.

Oh yeaaaah, it starts off simply enough. All you want is a small space to grow a few flowers.
The back garden, with relocated crabapple tree, March 2008.

Then you start thinking about tomatoes or perhaps cucumbers (Note: Just started a pot of green onions, spinach, fingerling carrots and cilantro.). Perhaps you decide to start gardening organically and composting. At some point you begin obsessing over the lawn and determine that it's just a waste of time and resources, so you start ripping that out in large chunks.
Front yard, late March 2008, pre-cleanup.

Front yard, as of May 13th, 2007.

After that, you're stuck in a never ending cycle of enlarging, detailing, journaling and trialing of new plants (Can I kill this one fast or slow? Let's find out!).

You might even decide that you need to specialize in a certain type of plant or garden. Do you like agastache a little too much?
'Heather Queen' agastache, along with honey bee.

What is all the hooplah over xeric gardening? (It's all about reducing your water use and time spent in working on your garden. Mine can fend for itself, which is essential these days!) What if you decide you want to register your yard as a backyard habitat? Suddenly you have to take the needs of wildlife into account and provide them with food, water, cover and a place to raise young.
Hello! I must be going!

You find yourself with a burning need to buy binoculars and bird books. You're buying feeders and hulled sunflower seeds. You may even find yourself in a cold war with squirrels and raccoons.

Next thing you know, you're justifying purchases of trees and shrubs as being "for the animals". You rip out old, unsatisfying plants and replace them with new, exciting, possibly multi-seasonal plants. Your neighbors look on and shake their heads, bemused by your annual antics.

Some people find that gardening in the ground isn't enough for them anymore and they start gardening in containers.
Big bowl o' sedum.

They read all manner of books about gardening in pots, arranging colors and sizes of plants and pick up such obscure terminology as Thrillers, Fillers and Spillers. Suddenly you find yourself purchasing enormous pots that you know you can fill with flowers.

You grow your own food. You grow your own food and a little extra for your friends, maybe even your neighbors.
My raised beds with survivors on the left and leftover plants on the right.

Finally, because you just don't have enough "space" or your growing season is "too short" you start thinking about "raised beds", "season extension" and "hoophouses". You start thousands of seedlings indoors, under lights.
Shoplights and shelving and soil, oh my!

Eventually, the gardening disease goes terminal and you're woodworking.
Space for new raised beds, in line with the old raised beds. You know, in my (Read: Eric's) copious spare time.

Stop now before it's too late!

Save yourselves!


Madge said...

i go out to the yard to putter around for a minute or do one little thing and i find 100 things that must be done right away! it's endless.

Jennifer H said...

I'm tired from reading that. But also a bit envious.

Woman with a Hatchet said...

Madge: it's EXACTLY like that. When I go outside it's sometimes overwhelming - the sheer amount of work. I always have to stop, take a deep breath and choose one little thing and get that done. Take it in small bites.

Jennifer: that's OK, it IS exhausting. Fortunately it didn't all happen in one year. It's been a little bit of this and that for the last 10 years. And it will NEVER be done, apparently.

This is where having loads of money would come in handy, but we've done pretty much all of it ourselves on the cheap. The vast majority of the plants in the front yard I grew from seed and planted all by my lonesome when I had more time than money. One day I would like to reverse that equation. Who knows WHAT I'd have done if that were the case!

Scylla said...

I am so not as fond of the dirt as you are... which is odd, given my love of the earth.

Woman with a Hatchet said...

Perhaps yours is but an intellectual love, while mine is...physical.

Gettin' it onnnn with Mutha Nature! Woo!

Julie Artz said...

I too am gardening-obsessed as you know, and Agastache is one of my favorites! My favorite right now is Agastache "Ava" from High Country Gardens. And the hummingbirds love it. I can't wait to try it here in Lyons, where the hummers should be here all season instead of just in September like they were in Lafayette!

:) Julie

Woman with a Hatchet said...

Hey Julie!

Actually, where I live I get hummingbirds in June or July, it all depends on how good the wildflower season is in the foothills. Also, once you have a biggish crop of HB plants established they come back over and over.

I bet you'll have tons of them in Lyons, though! Take pictures!

This year I'm going to see if I can't get them to drink from a saucer in my hand. Whee!

Kimberly said...

I know this road, my friend. I too have walked it. It's a dangerous one indeed.

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