Saturday, May 22, 2010

How does your garden grow?

Mine, unfortunately, is looking quite bare. The weather has been abysmal, giving us a good deal of entertainment (if you like such events) with its rain, and then sun, and then rain again (and apparently snow on the mountains). The good news is that this gives time for the forest firefighters to get their training. The bad news is that the long weekend in May is garden planting time. Three days full of outside work. And today was Day 1 of 3.

It was cool this morning, so I decided to do the laundry first. I hung it outside on the line, so while I puttered in the garden, my clothes would get that fresh air smell. I noticed that the sun wasn't shining so I did my puttering inside the house, attacking that pile of shredding. When I went to the kitchen, I heard an unusual sound from the stove fan. I looked outside, and saw raindrops on the sidewalk. I ran out and got my clothes off the line; they were now wetter than when I put them out there.

The plan of gardening was retreating from my agenda.

I looked out at my backyard at the mass of dandelions. In addition to planting my garden, my plan is to get rid of them. Last year I began the process by making sure that they didn't spread - I plucked off their yellow heads before they went to seed. One day when I was hunched over the lawn, one of the young boys in my back lane watched me for a long time. "What are you doing?" he said finally. "I'm making sure these plants don't make any more." He paused and was quiet for quite a while. Then, from my stooped position, I heard him say, "You will leave some behind, won't you?" I was definitely not seeing his delight.

This year's process began last Saturday after I went to Nelson Farmers' Supply and bought a new gadget for removing dandelions. On the way home, I stopped at the coffee shop, and picked up my favourite - a Dairy Dandy Latte. Interpretation: Dairy means milk. Dandy means Dandelion Blend, a coffee substitute that is by far the very best: I have tried them all. Dandelion Blend is a great liver helper!

Later when I was using my new tool and found out how skookum it is, it occurred to me that I was experiencing a bit of a mind-bending situation. I am paying nearly $10.00 for a small container of Dandelion Blend, and I was loading up my trash barrel with the same plant.

It got me to thinking about gardening, and how it is like that. In one place, I am doing all I can to make the grass grow, and in the other (specifically at the edge of the garden near the fence), I am constantly trying to pull out all those roots to get it OUT of the garden! If the grass could talk, or think for that matter, it would say, "What the heck? Make up your mind!"

I am feeling more settled with my opposite actions with dandelions. And indeed, I have new appreciation for the yellow flower head because they are keeping my bee amused. I noticed the bee several weeks ago as it was checking out the flowers on the prune tree, and thought, "Perfect! My cucumbers are going to be so happy." Now the trick is that I have to keep that bee amused until the cucumbers flower, which is some time away, so I went to the garden centre and asked about bee-loving plants.

Bees like yellow. Which explains my bee's fascination with the dandelions. So I can't be too hasty in getting rid of them. (I would be more than optimistic if I thought I could dig them all out of my lawn any time soon. Those weeds have taken over the back yard.) I asked the gardeners at the centre what else the bee would like - heather and lavender they suggested. The heather has been planted; the little kitten from across the back lane is finding the peat mulch that sits around the heather quite enthralling.

When I transplanted the flowers into their pots on the patio, I noticed that all the flowers are - well, yellow. For the bee.

"How do you know it is one bee?" my co-worker asked. You know, well, the fact is that I just know. A gardener knows these things.

Last week, too, I decided to remove all the dead plants that hang over from the neighbour's yard. We have honeysuckle, wild roses, and bamboo, thanks to them. And a lot of dead foliage. This was quite the task, and as usual, the rose bush protested. (Note to self: wear long sleeves when pruning the rose bush.) Underneath all those plants was a lot of mint. Time to move on - apparently borage is good for attracting bees. My friend Randi brought me a plant and I decided that it would be perfect in snuffing out the mint.

My upstairs neighbour (the landlady) has this thought about gardening, "My idea of gardening is putting one invasive plant beside another and they can duke it out." Sounds good to me.

So now, that side of the yard has been dug up and cleaned up, and the view of the rock wall is stunning. Well, I can't quite see it all because of the pile from doing all last weekend's clean up, but once it gets hauled away, I will. And I have new garden space - the rock wall apparently will be perfect for tomatoes and cucumbers.

Except, the plants for the bees are on the other side of the yard.

Back to the gardening plan. If it ever stops raining.

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