Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Some People Read In The Bath

...and I certainly am one of them, but I also like to look out the window. It's right above the tub. It overlooks the garden. After a hard slog in the garden, I go have a bath, and sometimes, when the water is too hot or I feel like reminding my back that gardening really IS fun, I stand and look out at my handiwork. Or watch the birds fly by. Either way, it's a pleasant place to stare out of.

This is a special window. It's big, clear, and looks out onto an expanse bereft of nearby houses or nearby yards. (critical points to consider when standing en flagrante) It has a charming view of the houses on the hills opposite, the Olympic mountains, and an old trestle bridge. Which was why we complained so bitterly when we had the windows - or rather THIS particular window - replaced before we moved in. Nice as the other windows were, this one was frosted AND heavily sashed. The bathroom went from being light and airy and open to being poky and dark and, worst of all, small. The window people, hired by Sears, said "But you agreed to that window!" which in a way we had, if you can call being politely enthusiastic when shown an 8" piece of mysterious white plastic agreeing, but we managed to convince them to change it on a technicality: "you guarantee satisfaction" we insisted, "and we are most definitely NOT satisfied with this window. It's horrible." They removed it and put the current one in, commenting along the way that we were giving up an expensive window for a far cheaper version. But look at that window: would you want that view obscured by two diagonal sections of white plastic, a frosted pane, and a (frankly) ugly winding handle? Didn't think so. Nor did we.

So here is what I've been up to in the garden in the last couple of days, April showers not withstanding.

Weeding. Lots of couch grass around these parts. In fact, my yard seems infested with the stuff. This year I enlisted the help of the twins, who are developing into excellent weeders. Just don't say anything of the sort to them, because they don't take kindly to being known as Good Weeders on the supposition that if they are good at it they'll be asked to do it more often.

Smart kids, those twins.

We also pulled many a dandelion, a lot of cleavers, and some low-growing thing I don't know the name of, but which I let grow out once (to see what it turned into) and then wished I hadn't because it was both unattractive and rampant. Most of the dandelions went into the compost, but I was reading somewhere how dandelion can be turned into a good phosphorus fertilizer for the garden, by soaking it in a bucket much as you would comfrey for comfrey tea. Apparently rock phosphate, which I use each spring to amend the soil, is not a gaily inexhaustible product and we should be thinking about alternatives. At least, this sensible person was thinking about alternatives; I wasn't, given that it was the first I'd heard about the issue. She made Dandelion Tea but at the time of her writing the jury was still out as to its usefulness as a rock phosphate substitute.

The cleavers went into a paper bag so I could dry it for winter tea. Cleaver's is a handy lymph tonic for winter colds, and given that it's so prolific in most gardens, considerably cheaper than buying echinacea tincture.

Netting. Despite having put up a deer fence in one area of the yard, the pesky young female is still getting into our yard from one area, although it seems a rare occurrence, judging from the pristine state of my strawberries and blueberries (one deer + 8 blueberry bushes + half a dozen strawberry beds = Total & Utter Decimation). Sunday I netted the blueberry bushes, although I changed my methods. Last year I used the Haphazard Tie Sticks On Stakes Method; this year I used the Stake It Properly Method, and I was pleased to note that the netting didn't behead the ends of the blueberry branches the way last year's method did.

Soil Whacking. This, despite its highly technical-sounding name, is really just breaking up the hard clumps of soil and rye grass clumps in preparation for sowing seed. It is amusing, though, and we all generally fight to get the fork first.

Mowing. I don't usually mow the lawn, a fact I was glad of when Richard discovered that someone had RUN OVER our extremely-expensive-hundred-foot-bought-specially-for-the-lawnmower electrical cord, because it meant that I couldn't be accused of the crime. Phew. See, sometimes it does pay to avoid certain jobs around the yard...

Now I can sit and think about where I'm going to put what. The last of the winter kale was composted; the purple sprouting broccoli is in full swing; the peas have been planted; and the strawberries and blueberries are at the point of bursting into blossom, as are the apple and plum trees.

Here's the soon-to-be-forgotten Herb Bed. It never did all that well, and was in the way of the Water Slide, so I am moving everything to another spot, except for that circle of grey brick you might be able to see in the middle of the photo. It contains the butterfly fennel, the rosemary bush, and the Evelyn David Austin rose.

And that's about it. Slow but steady in April!

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