Landscaping With Me Mum

Just a few days ago my driveway was clear of all the gravel and rock I’d ordered earlier this spring:

So to remedy the situation, I ordered 6 tons of really pretty 1/2 inch desert gold decomposed granite; and my mom generously offered to help shovel and spread the stuff in my yard, despite osteoporosis: here she is early yesterday morning:

The gold color looks really nice in contrast to the brown stuff I used to make the pathways:

Here’s the yard (with just the pathway) before we spread the decomposed granite:

And here it is when we were done. Bearbear, as you can see, is poised for action, just in case he happens to see a cat out in the street.

After spreading the fine gravel at a 3 inch depth, I hosed it down and then tamped it by using a cookie sheet that I stood on: this packed down the clay particles in the decomposed granite and creates a very nice firm surface, which, in theory, should repel weeds.

So, this project took us 4 hours. I made a nice lunch (including chocolate chip muffins with cream cheese filling, yum), made sure my mom had a lovely nap outside under the citrus trees, and then home 50 miles south-east she went…but not without a quick self-portrait of us as she went out the front door.  Per bone density tests she has multiple cracked/wedged vertebrae; but, you wouldn’t know it by her shovel-ready-acumen. I should be so lucky when I’m that age! Way to go, mom!

Finally, below, the next project: my hot date with 100 feet of Mr. Drip Soakerhose. This is a clever and easy way to irrigate, by cutting sections of soaker hose and solid tubing and connecting them with the yellow plastic connectors you see below, thus controlling where to soak the garden….and where not to. Once the soaker hose is set in place, I’ll mulch with straw; luckily, it’s been a really mild spring so far, and tonight it’s going down to…..50 degrees! Bizarre for so close to summer; so that I’m a bit late in setting up my irrigation probably isn’t going to hurt much, it’s not scorching hot….yet.

No Time For Fiddle Tunes or Art Quilts :(

While it’s a bit frustrating to have no time for fabric art or fiddle tunes, I am happy at least to be making improvements to my yard….so when it’s hot this summer and I’m inside under the AC sewing or playing my fiddle, I can look out to a lovely yard with fewer weeds.

My mom came over yesterday to help me with a bunch of yard chores; here she is putting together 2 new raised bed frames for my expanded vegetable garden:

Then we dug up this old concrete footing that I’d forgotten about; it must be as old as the house, and the wall it once supported is long gone. The footing interferes with water flow/drainage and of course makes it impossible to plant anything in that area:

This is what we dug up; I’ll throw a few pieces in my trash can ever week till it’s gone. And, yes, all that green stuff is weeds.

Before my mom came, this is what I managed to do on my own, shoveling some of the 3 tons of Salt River rock I ordered into the swale I built to divert water away from my house; and, BTW, that AC unit you see? I want to tear that out and put in a window. It’s ugly, and useless.

By the time my mom left, the pile of rock was almost gone, and the swale complete.

Here are my new 2 raised beds! Time to fill ’em up with soil, plant some seeds and get the shade cloth up and soaker hoses installed: then I’ll have fresh veggies this summer. Lots. There are 2 more raised beds in the back you can’t see in this photo. Yum.

My Gravel Doom

Well, here it is: all 8 tons. And that’s just half of what I’m going to need.

I started shoveling the gray river-rock (from the Salt River) into the swale on the east side of my house; I put weed cloth underneath (that’s the black stuff), it’s porous but helps keep weeds out:

Anything green you see is a weed. Because of all the rain, the weeds are unbelievable.  Three weeks ago I picked all my kale, leaving behind just stubs of plants; and with the recent rain, it’s all come back:

The poppies are volunteers. It’s supposed to hit 80 degrees later this week….so I’ll have to pick it all and freeze it. I have a feeling temperatures are going to warm up quick, which is why I’m anxious to move all that rock while it’s still cool.

Art Quilt Withdrawl

Remember this?

Yeah, I do too. I haven’t worked on it for 5 weeks!

Getting my new windows installed was part of the delay. Now I’m preoccupied about my yard, which is large and mostly not landscaped; it’s a lot of dirt for weeds and dust. Since it’s rained so much, it’s easier than ever to dig and move dirt around.

So, instead of sewing I tackled this part of my yard; I’ve dug a swale, which will be a path through the gate, and which will also channel water away from my house and down to the street:

I’m also about to get my spring/summer veggie beds in shape; here are 6 of my heirloom tomato plants, they have odd names like “Porter’s Pride”, “Harvest 24” and “Aussie” (guess where that tomato comes from); behind them are my seedlings, which haven’t done well in their peat-pots this year:

Soil amendments, and this doesn’t include my own compost, and lots of weed cloth:

I also have been straightening up the yard; as in, tree-trimming: here’s the citrus and olive tree before….

And after:

They almost look naked now. I think I got about 150# of tangelos off that tangelo tree in the back this winter.

Tomorrow, I’m getting 8 tons of gravel (I’m not kidding) delivered, and hopefully my cactus pruners will arrive in the mail: so that explains why I’ll continue to be unable to sew. Just not enough time. But my yard will look much better. The ground is soft and the weather pleasant….so I have no excuse!

Aphid Attack

I’m not really the most mindful gardener. If I thinned my lettuce–and pulled up the old lettuce plants–I’d probably get aphids later in the season.  Supposedly the abrupt presence of an aphid colony indicates a garden out of balance. Oh well. Every February when we have our first warm spell of 3+ days in the 70s and mild nights my beautiful winter lettuce crop becomes…..inedible. At least for me. It’s impossible to wash off aphids and I don’t like a salad with little things moving around on the leaves.

But, if you’re a chicken, it’s a different story. I picked all my lettuce the other day, loaded it into 5 gallon buckets, and gave it all to an administrative assistant at the hospital where I work: she has chickens. Apparently, her chickens were very happy with the–to them–inexplicable bounty.

I picked most of my kale in the other bed, washed, chopped and froze it; it’s aphid-free at this point, and, I must say, extremely yummy steamed and eaten with nothing added.:

The tomato cage is in the bed for nights when there’s a freeze; I just throw an old bed sheet over the whole bed and the cage props it up. Some poppies have self-seeded in the bed, too. There are also scallions and pansy volunteers.

March 15th is about the last frost date in Tucson; then I’ll plant my summer plants: tomatoes, beans, cukes for pickles.

Back from Boston

It’s been a week since I got back from Boston, where I went for my cousin’s funeral. My little garden really went crazy while I was gone, thanks to my neighbor watering it for me:

I returned with what felt like was going to be a full-blown case of flu, but after I hammered myself with Emergen-C, zinc lozenges, Oscillococcinum, Wellness Formula and a diet of mostly fruit and juice I ended up with just laryngitis and a hacking cough at night. No turkey dinner for me last week.

I think I started losing my voice the night in Dorchester where I had the great pleasure of meeting half a dozen second cousins, in the home of Patrick (if I understand it right, he is my paternal grandmother’s brother’s grandson, making him my second cousin) and his wife Joanne; they could all speak (or, yell) louder than I can; I thought I had a loud voice, but when it came time to leave I was told I’d have to speak louder next time!

I wish I had a photo of all my new-found relations; but, a camera was the last thing on my mind when I packed for a funeral. There was a disposable film camera in the room; if I get a print, I’ll post it here.