Suburban Butch Dad Report: yard work

I got some much needed time in the yard today.  Much needed because my yard and garden have gone to the weeds and much needed because weeding and working outside are good for me.  I love the way physical work takes me out of the stream of stress and deadlines.  As I’m pulling weeds and planning for future plantings, my mind settles into a positive, calm pattern.  I imagine my brain before gardening — jangled, busy, jumping from topic to topic — and after — smooth, mellow, harmonic.

One thing that isn’t much fun is realizing how much work there is waiting for me outside.  Last year I started strong in the spring and fizzled out when the baby became more active.  I just didn’t have the energy or time for anything as ambitious as yard work.  As a result, there’s even more accumulated crap for me to work through, where crap is weeds, piles of branches and junk, trees that need to be taken down, compost piles that need to be turned and ‘harvested’, flower beds over run and in dire need of haircuts.

This is a picture of one of my garden beds.  The pretty green plants with the little white flowers are weeds (something I used to think were touch-me-nots).  This is one of the more common weeds I have to deal with and they are prolific.  The mature plant becomes ‘spring-loaded’ after blooming and if you touch it, seeds explode from it in all directions.  The trick, then, is to pull it before it gets to that explosive stage.  And that’s now.

My garden projects in general are very much like this weed.  As I walked around my yard, projects and tasks burst out of every corner.  And if I have any hope to regain sovereignty over my outdoor spaces, the time to act is now, so that later this year, I can spend my time grilling and drinking beer with my friends.

I have two bathtubs in my yard and I’ve used them to grow potatoes and tomatoes, and sometimes, flowers.   After my work today, one of them is home to strawberries, salvaged from the bed in the upper part of the photo.  Also after my work today, the bed they came from is cleared of weeds, ‘fluffed’ and now temporary home to some day lilies.  Those lilies were crammed into pots sitting on my back steps.. and I mean crammed.  I split them up and massaged their roots and got them hilled in, awaiting their final home.

This is my worm box.  The red worms inside are descendants of ones I brought to this house in a coffee can from our old place.  Like most worm bins, it’s full of rotting food nestled in worm castings (poop) , tossed with shredded paper and the occasional handful of straw.  Last fall I harvested a couple of 5 gallon buckets of worm castings out of this bin and I’m already to the point where I need to pull another bucket out.  This stuff is black gold, and my flowers and veggies are gonna be sharing the wealth this year.

This is my carport roof.  My wife and I joke about our ‘green roof’, they’re all the rage up here now.  Over the years it’s gone from a few adventurous tufts to almost complete coverage.  I think it looks cool.

This is my mountain of compost.  It grows every year, then slowly over the winter it shrinks as the heat of all that organic refuse breaks down into dirt.  There are many wheelbarrows full of good dark dirt at the base of this pile that need to be dug out, sifted and used somewhere.  And then I could shift my pile away from the pathway.

There’s a lot of this all over:  messy, untidy, unkempt, overgrown beds begging for mercy and assistance.  Hopefully I’ll be out there fighting the good fight tomorrow and liberate some of the good plants from their burden of weedy neighbors.

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