Gardening Is the Answer

I finished digging the grass out of a soon-to-be wildflower meadow. For a few minutes this morning, I thought I’d get rained out and would have to save the last six-foot square until tomorrow, but the clouds spat a few drops at me, got bored, and moved one.

After I finished digging and shaking the dirt out of the clumps of grass roots, I raked the area flat, which oddly was the hardest part of the whole task. But I got that job done, too.

An experienced gardener left a comment on my blog yesterday that a wildflower field doesn’t have to be tilled, and I wondered if I had done all that work for nothing. And yet, that Bermuda grass is so strong and overpowering, I was afraid my poor wildflower seeds wouldn’t stand a chance if I didn’t do something about the grass. In fact, that grass is so strong it’s starting to go through the weed-barrier fabric on the north side of the garage. Supposedly, the contractor got the strongest fabric available, but as I said, that grass is strong. It looks like they are going to have to add another strip of the fabric, as well as finish putting up the gutters on the garage, but that is not something I can to do, so I won’t worry about it.

I’m glad to know about not having to till the soil for a wildflower meadow, so in some other spots where I want wildflowers, I can just toss the seeds and stamp them into the ground. Well, after I dig up the weeds, that is. And the grass.

A friend sent me a quote: “The answer is gardening. It doesn’t matter what the question is.”

I thought that was lovely. And it does sort of reinforce a surmise I made. A fellow griever once told me about an old woman she knew who had lost everyone she had ever loved and yet was the happiest person the griever knew. We both marveled at the possibility of finding joy despite all the sorrow, but now I know the woman’s secret. The woman was a gardener, so as I surmised, that’s the answer to the conundrum.

I wonder if I will be that person? More likely, unless gardening keeps me mellow and allows me a life of sorts without having to deal with too many irritations, I will become a curmudgeon.

Either way, gardening does seem to be the answer.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

A Thrill of Rain

It rained last night and most of the day. The dreariness of the dark clouds and the windblown drops could have made this an unpleasant day, but instead, there seemed to be a feeling of excitement, as if the sodden ground was thrilled by the possibilities of spring.

Or maybe it’s just me feeling thrilled. After the dryness of the past years, seeing so much rain is a joy. Besides, the chance of seeing green shoots this year, perhaps some flowers, adds a bit of effervescence to the grayness, though I don’t want to get too excited. After all, there are still weeks of possible freezes coming up, and around here, any freeze after the start of spring can kill off incipient blossoms or keep them from budding in the first place.

Still, it’s fun dreaming of greener days.

During the fall, when the workers were here putting in the sidewalk, they used a skid steer, which pretty much tore up my lawn, though lawn is a misnomer. Since I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with the yard, last year I didn’t water what grass there was, so basically the workers just created more bare spots in the brown grass.

People tell me that Bermuda grass is hard to kill, so I’m hoping the rain will resurrect the grass in the dead zones. If not, I’ll think of something to plant once the pathways are in. That way, I’ll know where to plant things so I can take care of them. The scattershot approach to planting bulbs seemed like a good idea, but without knowing where I’d planted things, I didn’t know where to water when rain was scarce. This year, every time I see a bulb, I mark it with a stake, so I’ll know where to water. For now, the clouds are doing the watering for me, dumping plenty of moisture on the grateful ground. We won’t be warming up too much in the next few days, so perhaps the ground will remain wet for a while, giving any lazy bulbs time to wake up.

The gray day put the croci to sleep, but one more dwarf iris did find its way to the surface. A pleasant surprise in a surprisingly pleasant day.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

The Grass From Hell

I malign this poor grass. Bermuda grass is only the grass from hell if you’re trying to dig it up. It’s a chore, that’s for sure! Because of it’s extensive — and deep — root system, it takes several stabs with a shovel to get deep enough to pull out even a small chunk of the grass. And it does come out in chunks of soil and roots.

I imagine this ability to bind soils makes it a good grass in windy areas, such as this one. I certainly don’t lose any topsoil (assuming there is any at all in this ancient yard) during the high wind storms. The deep roots make Bermuda grass hard to kill with neglect. Even if it turns brown in the heat of summer, it will always come back with a touch of rain. Despite that — or maybe because of that — it is heat and drought resistant. When I figure out what areas of my yard I want to be green, I’ll water the heck out of the grass and end up with a lush looking lawn.

For now, I know one area I don’t want the grass — it’s between the two sidewalks and would be hard to mow. Besides, that island will make a great zinnia bed. And so the grass has to go, though to be honest, right about now, I’m rethinking that plan. I’ve worked a couple of hours today and yesterday, and oh, am I exhausted! To say nothing of sore and weak-kneed. The area is approximated six feet by sixteen feet, and I’ve managed to dig up maybe 24 square feet so far. Lots of hard shoveling! And even after digging up all those roots, chances are the grass will come back because not only does it have such an extensive root system that it’s impossible to get every bit, it also propagates by seed, and there’s no telling how many seeds are left behind. No wonder the preferred method of removing the grass is to zap it with Round-up, but that’s not anything I would ever consider.

I have a hunch this is the wrong time of year to be digging up grass or doing any gardening other than planting a few things that prefer to be settled in the fall, but the way I figure, I’m here now, the grass is here (and by no means green, not even on the other side of the fence!), the ground is still faintly damp from the recent though long-melted snow so the digging is a mite easier, and it’s a good reason to be out in this perfect fall weather.

The weather will change again next week, but with any luck, I’ll have most of the island grass-free, ready for spring fertilizing and planting.

I did mention, didn’t I, that we planted my greengage plum trees? (Well, my contractor and his helper did, I just stood around and pretended I was working.) I had an extra tree (I’d ordered it for a friend who no longer had a place for it) and without any better idea of where to put it, we planted in the middle of the island. I’ll have to prune it every year to keep it small, but that will make the fruit easier to reach — assuming there is fruit and assuming the birds leave any for me. In a way, it will be like a birdfeeder without all the work and the mess. (Though I am sure there will be other messes, but I don’t want to think about that.)

If by chance, I’ve whet your appetite for digging, you are welcome to join me in my yard tomorrow around mid-morning. I have an extra shovel.

***

“I am Bob, the Right Hand of God. As part of the galactic renewal program, God has accepted an offer from a development company on the planet Xerxes to turn Earth into a theme park. Not even God can stop progress, but to tell the truth, He’s glad of the change. He’s never been satisfied with Earth. For one thing, there are too many humans on it. He’s decided to eliminate anyone who isn’t nice, and because He’s God, He knows who you are; you can’t talk your way out of it as you humans normally do.”

Click here to order the print version of Bob, The Right Hand of God
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