Monday, April 9, 2012

Down In Front

I shoveled horse shit on Saturday.  Three year old, gloriously well-rotted horse shit. I should have taken pictures. My friend Helen is a gorgeous British woman who is "farm-strong" (meaning lifting hay bales and feed sacks are everyday /  no-big-deal occurrences for her), and takes care of three horses and acreage by herself, in addition to working full time as an engineer. 

My friend Tori and I met down there, and Tori had already gotten to work shoveling compost into empty feed bags destined for her her truck.  The compost itself felt more like "forest-floor covering" - thick, soft, a little spongy, and as it had sat under conifers it had a smattering of lichens, mosses, and tiny pine cones on top of it, as well as some thin twigs here and there.  Helen would take a few bags into her wheelbarrow and set off through the riding arena to our trucks and pile the bags in, then return ready for more.

I wish I had gotten a picture - three women handling three large pickup trucks. It makes me smile just thinking about it. Tori filled her truck bed, and I halfway filled mine, and then we sat for a cup of tea - very British and one of the endearing things about Helen is her generosity with everything she has. 

The day was warming up nicely - meaning I could actually work outside in a t-shirt and pants - and I returned home to Daniel continuing to fiddle with the garage door opener. He helped me empty the truck bed, then I got to work amending the soil out front while he went to Home Depot. 

I should back up and say that Friday afternoon, the bushwhackers showed up to grind the stumps out of the beds in the front yard. The soil was all fluffy and ready for me to get down to business. I worked in about 50 lb of compost into each bed (there are two out front, one on each half of the duplex), and on our side I also worked in a good amount of the organic fertilizer I mentioned in earlier posts. As I worked, I picked out whatever trash or roots / stumps / twigs were left from the stump-grinding. I was easily able to pull out everything but one large root that was near the mailbox. I'll have to return there with a hand-saw, as my dad suggested.  I am thinking of making a soil sifting box (make an open butt-jointed tray with 2x4s and staple chicken wire to one side) for when I make raised beds out back. There's a lot of weird rocks and crap in the soil - I don't mind the occasional rock, but I don't enjoy coming across chunks of concrete trash in my dirt, either.

After amending the soil, I finally (FINALLY) was able to plant up various purchases. My weeping flowering cherry went in, as did the grasses I had purchased at Sky Nursery a couple of weeks back. Behold:

Hurry up and grow, guys!

I am now on the search for grasses or shrubs that look like bamboo but aren't. Nandina could be a good candidate. See that strip of grass going back in the photo? I want to plant something thin there that will serve as a border to separate the apartment's sidewalk from our property. There's also some concrete hidden under the grass in the foreground. Ugh. Another victim for our sledgehammer party in the next few months. 

I feel really good about that plot. Now I need to work on our tenant's empty plot. I want to do something similar - maybe with a Japanese maple over there, and some nice shrubs. I left some room to plant one or two shrubs on our side - I'd like another Daphne odorata (and they are only like $7 at Home Depot), and maybe I'll plop some bulbs and annuals in there for color while I'm at it. Annuals are blessedly cheap and hopefully I can find a large mixed flat! 


And now, for no particular reason: Star Trek actors at the 1976 rollout and dedication ceremony of the Enterprise space shuttle:

Rockin' the polyester.

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