Friday, May 18, 2012

GADS Indeed

Our first garden walk of the season this year is June 7.  Oh boy....... we are running behind.  And our GADS is just as bad as ever--our attention is constantly being shifted from one task to another, all seemingly unrelated. 

What have we accomplished around here since early May?  Not enough!  In the last few years whenever we have been faced with an impending garden walk, I have succumbed to the temptation of making lists.  (Not grocery lists mind you; no, those I never make, which explains why I end up with a cupboard full of strange spices I never use (cumin?) and then forget to buy the basics, like milk.) 

The list hanging from my refrigerator door of 'Things That Need To Be Done by June 7, 2012' was written up sometime in February 2012.  I'm still not sure if making lists is a good idea or not.  On the one hand, a Plan is a good thing to have when trying to ascertain what is the most logical chore to tackle first, but as every one who gardens and deals with Mother Nature knows, you can plan all you want but life is full of surprises.

I read through the list last night and saw that of the myriad of things listed (gasp, 44 days ago) only two could be crossed off and one of them had just been added that didn't have a thing to do with getting the garden tour ready

Fix the drain tile

Carl and I fixed the drain tile last week Friday.  Apparently it is not a good idea to have really large excavation equipment and really big rocks delivered by dump trucks that have to drive over your drain tile.  (But it's worth it!)

Our front lawn had a literal bog forming in one area and despite Carl's grumbling ("We already have way too much work to do, can't it wait?") I decided, nope, it can't wait when I nearly got stuck mowing lawn.  We marched out of the house and set about digging up the tile looking for the problem.

Carl flipped the sod over, living a little attached so it could simply be flipped back down again after we installed the new drain tile lying next to the trench in the picture.  Digging this trench was wet, muddy work.  Carl dug out the sod and my job was to remove the loose mud and dirt with a narrow trenching shovel and keep tabs on which way the tile was going underground.  It didn't take long to find the problem(s), the tile was crushed in four places.  

There's Carl, really 'digging' his job.  (Groan.)
We both felt the strain in our fifty-four year old backs by the time we were done.  The work wasn't all that heavy, but it entailed standing at weird angles in order to shovel.  Luckily, Joel came home just as we had the old tile ready to pull out and helped put the new line in place..  His help is always appreciated. 
Gee, I wonder why we had water backing up on the lawn?  There were four spots like this in 100'.
A few hours of digging and we had the job accomplished.  I'm happy to say the lawn is now bog-free.  

The other thing on the list that I was able to cross off was:

Get Mulch
I've written before about my adventures in mulch inspired by the late, great Ruth Stout who authored the book, 'Gardening Without Work'.  (I'm including a link to Mother Earth News that has a quick reprint from her book if you're interested. ) Ruth Stout's System

Ruth Stout was, apparently, a Character.  I read her book a few years back and got such a chuckle from her wit.  She was a rebel in more ways than one and claimed to have a penchant for gardening in the, ahem, 'au naturale' at times....but rest assured, this is one part of her example I won't be following.  I prefer to remain fully clothed at all times in the garden.  An old shirt, blue jeans, long socks, gloves, knee pads and my oh-so-stylish straw hat continually and habitually complete my ensemble.  

Ruth could garden in the nude if she chose, but aside from the complete and utter shock and horror my neighbors would suffer, Wisconsin's State Bird is the Mosquito.  Gardening in the buff is not recommended when surrounded by swarms of flying vampires.  And besides, being arrested for 'indecent exposure' at the least or 'lewd and lascivious behavior' on the other end of the spectrum wouldn't get the work done around here.

But anyway, back to the mulch situation.   We had nearly run out of the stash of hay we've been using for the last few years so I went on Craigslist and found some hay for sale in a neighboring community.  Carl and I went to visit a very nice lady who had some old hay for sale and we crammed thirty-odd bales on our little trailer and hauled it home.  

Before we bought the hay from the nice lady, I had called one of our neighboring farmers if he knew of any hay or straw for sale and a few days later he kindly told me we could have free straw from the fairgrounds where a cattle sale had been held the weekend before.  We wouldn't even have to pick it up; they would deliver it for free.  I'd already arranged to pick up the hay from the Craigslist lady, so we made arrangements to go ahead and get her hay anyway.  It only seemed fair. 

Just before we left to pick up the hay from the lady, a call came from our neighbor; our free straw/mulch was on the way.  

We weren't expecting the truck to be quite so big, but we were really, Really happy to see all this mulch:

We had the truck driver dump the load out in the Back Eight.  We thought the field would be dry enough, but well, we were wrong.  When the box went up, the bottom of the dumpster dragged the ground and we had a stuck truck.  Aw, shucks.  (Sorry, couldn't resist.)  

Carl went and got the 574 and the chains and hooked up to the behemoth. 

I was taking pictures but then Carl recruited me to do the pulling.  (Well, I mean the tractor, not me, personally.  I just drove.)  As soon as I had the chain taut and tried to pull the big truck I felt like an ant trying to move a mountain, nothing was budging.  The tractor did dig some impressive ruts, though.  I figured we'd have to either wait for the field to dry up or call another neighbor with a bigger tractor, but surprisingly, the truck finally did move once I stepped in the posi-lock on the rear differential of the tractor.

The truck driver was glad to get out and I don't blame him.  I drove the tractor off the lane so he could keep moving and get by me while I tried to get the back wheels out of posi-lock.  (Posi-lock (in case you care, lol) makes both back wheels turn at the same rate, as opposed to one wheel spinning in mud and the other doing nothing.)  Posi-lock works great for pulling, but the tractor can only move in a straight line with it engaged.  It took Carl to help me get the lever disengaged because we don't use the feature that often and the lever is hard to move. 

 Carl hopped on the back of the tractor and we headed down the lane for home, following the tracks left by the truck.
My, I'm getting grayer and grayer.  Split-ends, too. 
There he goes, on down the road, leaving only his tracks (and a whole lot of straw mulch,yippee) behind. 

 I took the tractor home to the machine shed. 
The tree grates weren't on the list either.  I could write them on there and cross them off to make us feel better.

That's the way things have been going around here.  We GAD about all over the place.  Oh, well....the work will get done.  Or not.  It is what it is.  

Maybe this weekend I'll be able to cross off a few more things.  Carl is still working on the stone wall in the Formal Garden with Ann whenever she's available.  And we started tearing up the floor of the dome this week, too.

Every year we have trouble with frost-heave in the dome which buckles the floor.  We are taking up all the pavers and putting down more gravel to fix the uneven floor problem. 

Alas, there's ALOT of floor to pull up, level, shovel gravel in and put back down. 

Joel and Allison stopped in on Tuesday night to help us out.  Allison ran the transit and aided Carl with readings while I hauled some of the blocks out of the way until Joel took over with that chore and hauling gravel to the dome with a wheelbarrow.
In the morning while Carl's at work I'm still exercising (when I should be outside, I know) and tending to the greenhouse and weeding.  

Oh, dear, am I ever weeding this year.  Just look at the beautiful field of dandelion fuzz glistening in the sunset to the west of our house this past week.  All of those lovely, delicate seeds will be finding a new home in our flower beds.   Yippee.

  We've been working until dark and way beyond many nights.  The nice thing about gardening after dark is you really can't see many weeds. 
 Maybe we should talk the June tour group into a Night Walk---"Weeds?  What weeds?"

Oh well, Ruth Stout had the right idea; go get the pitchfork and let's spread some mulch. 

Hope you all have a great weekend!



Sue said...

Hi Karen-What a lucky score with the used hay--I'm sure it has been "fertilized" to boot--another bonus-woohoo!

Diana LaMarre said...

How nice to get all that mulch. Now you have even more work to do to put it all down. :) I am sure you will have everything in order for your first walk.

Shirley @ The Gardening Life said...

Karen, you have been hard at work in your gorgeous garden. I love the night photo of the tiered garden filled with a variety of plants surrounding your enormous pond! It is just lovely!

I am reading a book I think you will enjoy. It is a historical fictional account of Clara and Mr. Tiffany, of the stained glass company, not the jeweller though they are father and son. Clara heads up the women's division responsible for cartooning, cutting, and assembling the stained glass pieces. She comes up with the idea of using stained glass for lamp shades but finds that to get the proper credit deserved for such innovation, she must butt heads with Mr. Tiffany. The imagery the author creates can be compared to the beauty of each stained glass piece Tiffany's created. It is a moving story, written from the viewpoint of Clara herself. I am truly enjoying Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland. I think you will too!

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

I thought that mulch that had been used for the cattle will be great too as I'm sure they will have dropped free fertilizer while standing around.

You guys are so busy, makes me tired just by treading it.

Thanks for the Ruth Stout link.

I'm going to start mulching with oak and melaleuca leaves that we have dropped from trees for free.

Have a great weekend ~ FlowerLady

myomyohi said...

Great score on the free mulch. I know what you mean about projects popping up that need taken care of, even though there are so many other things that need taken care of also. I'm sure everything will be ready in time.

Beth said...

I've missed you, Karen! I figured you were busy in the gardens! Our free mulch is pine needles. It has a nice color to it and decomposes over the season, adding goodies to the soil. I have a friend who purchases "cotton burr compost" and uses it for mulch. I cannot afford to do that - it'd take a hundred bags to do my gardens, at $8.95 a piece! I do buy compost at times. I also make my own, but I cannot make enough. Good luck on the garden tour!

HolleyGarden said...

Wow - you have been busy. Good luck getting it all done. But, do gardeners ever get it all done? I think not. That mulch is beautiful! I'm very envious. But not of the work involved spreading it, of course. I GAD about, too. I weed instead of working on some big projects that need to get done, but seem sooooo, well, big! Thankfully, I don't have a time line. You are Carl both work endlessly. And your place is gorgeous - it will be beautiful on June 7th whether you get anything else done on your list or not!

Charade said...

You make me laugh, and you make me ashamed that I complain about my back when I work in my teeny, tiny flower garden. Your place should be on some sort of national tour!

Anonymous said...

Where to start! You guys have been so busy. Must see if I can find this book! Your garden is stunning even with weeds. Be in touch very soon.x

Alison said...

What a treat to find your post this morning! You've been MIA, and I miss you. Glad to hear you're still exercising. We have had great weather here for the last two weeks, and I have started walking outside again, as well as working in my garden. I make lists for the garden too. I loved your suggestion that you should put the grates on the list and then cross it off so you feel like you're making progress (I've done that). Hope you get it all done in time for the tour! BTW, I love your gray hair.

Gatsbys Gardens said...


You guys are really workers! That is some drainage pipe, I'm complaining about maybe having to redo a fifty foot one. Your gardens will look great for the tour.


Unknown said...

It is so, so good to see you here. I'm glad everything is still "normal" around your place, GADS and all! You need to write a book your self about all your gardening journey's....and yes they are journeys!

Cat said...

There sure hasn't been a lack of excitement where you are! The tree grate is stunning - love that!

Rosemary said...

You certainly have an exciting eventful life........ brings a smile with every post but oh how my back would hurt with all the work you do....... I used hay / straw mulch once and rued the day with all the weeds I ended up with now pine mulch for me........ Looking forward to your next post

Dandelion and Daisy said...

It's great to get caught up! Looks like you have all been busy, as usual. I love the first photo of your garden and the sky. I'm, also, liking your tree surrounds..what a great idea!

Lisa Sall - Sall's Country Life said...

Good Luck with that to-do list, Karen! If anyone can do it all you and Carl will get'er done!! I'm sure your place will be spectacular as ever in time for the garden walk!! I'm glad I stopped over tonight, you just made my life seem a whole lot easier!

xoxoxo said...

ha! I do this too: add items on the to do list that snuck up and got done before making the list! And then we cross them off to make us feel better!