Suitcase And Guitar In Hand

For a bunch of years in a row, I took a picture of the backyard garden from the top of the back steps, usually on Sundays because that was probably the day I charged the camera battery. Or milked the cow. I don’t have a cow. Anyway, taking pictures from that vantage point is a big old failure now. To show you, Poor Impulsives, the exceedingly homemade garden, I had to walk down the steps and walk around the entire ridiculously small garden, and what a sacrifice it was. You are welcome!

Tools and dirt, check!

At the bottom of the back steps and to the left, the temporary greenhouse and the solarizing bed.

Almost as soon as we put up the temporary greenhouse, two storms came along and threw everything inside on the ground. Stuff is now growing on the floor. I don’t know what that is, exactly. Can’t wait to find out if it bears fruit or tries to kill me.

Some plants, check!

At the bottom of the steps, slightly less left: the berm in the foreground; in the background, the stairs that will be covered with window boxes, a composter, the high raised bed.

Pete and I built the plant prison with chicken wire sides, which was a total pain in the ass and was guaranteed to whack me in the face every time I tried to get closer to my plants. He revamped this dealio with plastic fencing along the sides and I am the very happiest of happy campers. At no time has plastic fencing attacked my person and the squirrels are totally out of the big raised bed.

I have a splinter. I'm sure it's not from all this wood.

Standing in front of the greenhouse and looking straight back at containers full of potatoes, sweet potatoes and asparagus. The higher raised bed in the distance is full of garlic. The chicken chateau to the right is full of surly chickens.

I plant a lot of potatoes. Nothing is more fun than dumping out a container of potato plants to find wonderful new potatoes on the surface of the solarizing bed. Dudes, you can grow food in hilariously small spaces – if you can protect it from voracious wildlife. And your neighbor with boundary issues.

Yep, that's a container of lemongrass in New Jersey.

The higher raised bed is full of garlic and clover. I love garlic and I’m experimenting with cover crops. I’m at that age, you see. Against the fence to the left will be a forest of peas & beans; against the forest to the right will be a forest of asparagus, a couple of years in the future.

I like walking around the plant prison to the space near the higher raised bed. This is the center of the garden space and from here, I can see most everything. From here, I see things I should fix and things I should be patient about. Place your bets.

Can you believe I wasted the battery power to photograph this?

Presently, the somewhat anemic forest of peas & beans. The favas are doing well. The beans sprouted nicely. The peas? I’ve re-seeded.

This is the spot where Andie’s cat Kitty likes to nap on sunny days. I love finding her here. I wish the squirrels were a little more nonplussed.

That's not my shed, but my plants lean on it.

Walking around the berm/plant prison, there’s the tumbling composter, the stairs Pete built to hold planted containers, the layer composter, a container of potatoes. Also visible: a whole lot of garden fence pieces put away carefully.

The other day, I took a weed-whacker to the yard. I like this part of the garden green and mossy, but weeds are aggressive everywhere. I was careful to pick the dandelion greens for the chickens before I weed-whacked this area to within an inch of its life.

You would not believe how much time I spend staring at eggplants.

Turning directly around, this is the backside of the berm/plant prison; beyond on the left, the higher raised bed filled with garlic; beyond right is the chicken run and coop.

It’s hard to tell from this picture, but lots of seeds are sprouting in the plant prison. This planting method is working for me. I have backaches, but for other reasons.

In my day, it was "Yellow Submarine." Why is this kid singing music from before his parents were born?

Behind the berm/plant prison, looking straight back at potatoes, the garlicky higher raised bed, the future home of an asparagus forest, and the fence between me and the little boy singing, “JET! OO OO OO OO! JET!” over and over again.

When I was a kid, the retired neighbors across the street spent all of their time and energy planting flowers and trimming their hedges and adjusting their pansies and I thought they were crazy people. Maybe they were. But about the plants: I get it.

I’m excited about getting up tomorrow morning to water plants. Because: craaaazy.

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I’ve Created A Devastating Masterpiece

Why don't flowers come in olive and black?

These flowers are not my pink flowers. I am not a pink&purple girl. A little girl living on the other side of the house brought home a doomed begonia, which I replaced with these flowers because pink is her favorite color. Am I pink-complicit?

I came home from work with plans for my garden. My niece knocked on a window and I let her in. She collected two containers of compost and went through the basement to the backyard, where she added new material to the composter, spun it and added composted material to the solarizing bed.

In the kitchen, Pete said, “It’s going to rain in a few minutes.” He’s not a prophet. He’s weather-obsessed and seldom puts down his phone. I looked at him and looked at the sky above the tiny backyard. I went out into the yard and observed my beautiful and sweaty niece stabbing soil in the solarizing bed with a pitchfork.

“Pumpkin?” I asked.

“Yes?” she said.

“It’s going to rain in a few minutes. Can you wrap this up?”

“Yep,” she said. I went inside. She did wrap things up and was gone for no more than a minute when the pre-storm wind roared about the house. Pete and I wondered if our hanging plants would survive the maelstrom. Poor Topaz, terrified of thunder and lightning, cowered under my legs for an hour before the storm abated

Tonight, the air is fresh and cool. Pollen has been everywhere and overwhelming for a week, but tonight, feels more manageable. When I left work this afternoon, the air was summer-warm for the first time this spring.

I am ready for summer.

Now To Let Me Go

This is an awful story. Here is a picture of my garden.

Abbott and Costello, now with lemongrass plants.

You remember the greenhouse. It’s especially green now that pollen is falling from the maple tree in our backyard. Note the new, tall solarizing bed.

Yesterday, when I came home from work, I was surprised to find bits of gray furry stuff scattered across the front porch. My first thought was that Andie’s cat Kitty must have gotten into a fight and I was breathless with worry. In the garden, I found Kitty whole and placid amid the plants, so I stopped worrying about her and started worrying about…someone else, but whom, I did not know. Though puzzled, I still had chores to do and did them. Cat boxes don’t scoop themselves, you know.

What do you do with moldy strawberries?

A tumbling composter makes short work of the kitchen scraps your chickens don’t eat, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

A short while later, Pete and I sat on the porch for our afternoon adult beverage. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something move where nothing should have. It seemed so unlikely, I thought I was imagining it. Gradually, I became sure I was seeing motion in an improbably small place where I’ve never seen motion of any kind before. At the bottom of a pillar supporting the porch roof, a small support affixes the pillar to the porch. Beneath that support, something fluttered. Then fluttered again. It was trying to escape.

Seeds and plants, seeds and plants.

The berm is filling out. The stairs, behind the raised bed, are still mostly empty.

At first, I thought it might be a bat. Then, I saw feathers protruding from a gap on the side. Whatever the creature was, it had ducked in there in a panic and couldn’t get out. I told Pete we had to get it out. He reached for a high-powered hose. I panicked and grabbed the hose. I did not want to torture a trapped animal. I texted Andie, who was at work. Neither Pete nor Andie seemed terribly concerned. After dinner, I went outside with a flashlight and my glasses to see if I could get a good look at the trapped creature. I couldn’t see anything. I got a butterknife and ran it across the bottom of the space. The creature flinched. I was horrorstruck.

You would not believe how tiny this yard is.

The lower raised bed, the higher raised bed and the edge of the chicken run.

I realized we were waiting for the creature to die. Believe it or not, I felt completely alone. At 3:03 am, I awoke after awful fever dreams and could not fall back to sleep. At 3:43, I worried. At 4:14, I worried. At 5:07, I despaired. When the alarm sounded at 5:50, I asked Pete to set it for 7:40, when I could call out of work.

Seriously, it's a small yard.

The chickens amaze me every day. I’m not sure how they feel about me, though.

This afternoon, I said to Pete, “We have to get the dead creature out of that tiny space.” Reluctantly, he agreed. I took up the hose and forced it into the small space. Nothing came out but rushing water. Eventually, I saw a foot. I grabbed the foot and pulled. Out of the small space came another foot, then a body. The next slight tug tore the head off the broken body and answered the question of whether we could have rescued this bird. No. The bird fled attack into this space somehow, but it was not coming out alive again.

I put the body and the head into our composter and whispered, “I’m so sorry this happened to you. Go in peace.” Maybe it’s too late. Maybe now is the only time we have.

 

 

 

Bright In A Hollow Sky

This spring, we’re up to all sorts of wild new stuff. I cut off all my red hair and now I look people in the eye and wait for them to say something about it. I built the berm in the low raised bed and Andie and I covered it with fertile soil. Andie moved the blueberry bushes to the front of the house and planted the currant bushes. My job has taken a turn for the more interesting and serious and – surprise! – I rather like it.

What? I assembled it before breakfast, mofos!

Five foot by five foot by too high for me to reach, dammit!

Over the winter, I took a part-time job to send Panky to space camp, but plans change. Miss Sasha and Mr. Sasha decided that Panky should wait another year before he goes to sleep away camp, but found Panky a summer robotics program near them. In an exciting turn of events, I’ve made enough at my part-time job to send both Panky and Buckwheat to summer camp. Do you know what that means? That means in the future, Mama can pay some bills.

I like the sound of that. Everybody wins.

Nobody expects it. Especially not me.