Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Dishing the Dirt

It's that time of year again, when I (try to) get going on the gardening.

This year, I decided to scale back on planting tomatoes, since my schedule will be a bit different in the fall and I'm pretty sure I won't have all kinds of time to harvest veggies.

So this year, I just bought 5 tomato plants (GASP!) from the nursery (GASP!) and put them in the grow-bags (some things haven't changed), where they seem to be quite happy.

The strawberries that I planted last year (and diligently refused to allow to put out runners) seem to have formed a nice root structure, just like all the experts said they would.

Based on the size of the plants and the number of blossoms, I'd say they're also pretty happy.

Speaking of roots, I bought a "cocktail kiwi" plant last year. Supposedly, it produces small kiwi fruit that don't have that furry brown skin you have to peel. Since I like the concept of not having to peel fruit, I thought it would be a great addition to the yard.

So I planted it and then spent most of last summer watching it not grow at all.

Which wouldn't have been all that surprising or disconcerting, really (this is home gardening after all), except that all of the tags on this li'l kiwi said, things like DANGER!! and FAST GROWING!  

(Okay, fine, they didn't actually use the word "danger" but they did use the word "trellis" and that's pretty much the same thing, when the sentence also includes the phrase "fast growing.")

Given that I'd been led to anticipate another Jack-and-the-Beanstalk scenario, only to be greeted with the plant-growing equivalent of crickets chirping, I assumed I had done something wrong.

To such an extent that, when winter came, I reconciled myself to the fact that, come spring, it would prove to be, you know, dead.

But hey, looky-here!

To borrow a few phrases from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, "I'm not dead! I'm getting better. I feel fine! I feel happy!"

Fingers crossed it continues.

Because last winter, I discovered that the dogwood tree in my front yard had a borer invasion, so it was very much dead and I had to have it removed. (I was sad to see it go.)

In its place, I'm planting a sourwood tree. I got the tree (on the cheap) from the (presumably) good folks at Arbor Day .org and I must say, it is not what I expected.

I'm not going to post a picture of it, because you'll be quite certain I've planted a dead twig.

Apparently, the Arbor Day folks always send you a very small, dormant tree. They then attach a note to it to assure you that it is very much alive (it's like Monty Python keeps happening right and left around here).

This approach kind of puts you in an odd frame of mind--basically, you begin wondering whether the promoters of Arbor Day are the kind of people who think it might be funny to get a bunch of us out there planting dead twigs.

The note assures me that in "several weeks," this twig will come out of its state of dormancy and begin to grow and become the tree that I had imagined when I ordered it.

Let's just say, it has its work cut out for it, because at the end of the day, it's still just a twig right now.

But hot on the heels of this apparent cocktail-kiwi-turnaround, I've decided to (try to) be optimistic.

I really do hope it grows, because otherwise, I'm going to need to go invest in a more expensive option--in short, to get a tree that's more tree-like than twig-like.

Meanwhile, the title of the post is taken from the fact of the following:

I got a 4 cubic yard load of a 50/50 mix of compost and loam.

Which I was happy to have because it helps me remain optimistic about things growing (see above re: the sourwood twig), but honestly, I think I had mentally imagined a dirtload of "4 cubic FEET."

And as I'm sure you all know, 4 cubic feet is very different from 4 cubic YARDS.

But as you can see from the following, it all got distributed. Yes, there's a big pile in the back corner of my yard, but that's okay because 1) I'll use it up before fall, and 2) it's not in the driveway.

This hauling of dirt over the course of a week was a nice way to jump-start my spring/summer fitness regimen.

I subsequently attempted a run, but that did not go as planned.

I think I breathed in a few grains of pollen.

Although I really think it was only a few spores, it felt like the equivalent of this.

It's hard to run when you're coughing and can't stop. (The coughing, I mean, not the running.)

Especially when you left the water bottle in the car, a mile away.

Actually, it's even a little bit difficult to walk when the coughing thing is happening like that, but ironically, you find that you kind of want to run, because you want to get to the water bottle ASAP.

So that was how that stint of (attempted) exercise went on that particular day. A swim the next morning went much better--no coughing or near-drowning or anything.

I also signed up for a "Circuit Training Boot Camp" that meets for an hour on Mondays. We had our first class yesterday morning. It was good, but it left me quite tired.

I thought maybe I'd take a walk to "pep myself up." (Obviously, I didn't really think that through: another bout of low-grade exercise is not the way to "pep up" if you're tired from a bout of high intensity exercise.)

As a result, I had to have a second batch of coffee, because I needed to grade-- I simply couldn't risk falling asleep face-first on my keyboard and inadvertently giving some poor student a "6tyg" for a grade.

On that note... another day (or two) of grading awaits!

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Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "Life is short, but there is always time for courtesy."