I used grow sunflowers back in the townhouse.  It was amusing to see the tops of those giant plants sticking above the privacy fence in that 12×12 area, but the limited space required vertical gardening to get anything resembling a respectable garden, and sunflowers fit the bill.

But when we bought the house, we stopped planting them, for no reason other than all the existing garden space was being used.  But then we tilled up grass for a new garden, and with the excitement of seemingly endless possibilities, sunflowers were thrown into the mix.

Then, as flowers do, they turned to seed.  And sunflowers make a lot of seed.  And squirrels are greedy bastards, but I can’t shoot them in my backyard.  So I harvested the seed.

I’ve tried other tools, but the katana really is the best one for the job

I don’t know what to do with them, so they’re hanging in the basement drying.  Maybe next year I’ll create a sunflower forest.


Ad Victorium

I’ve often referred to my vegetable garden as a Victory garden, for no other reason than to give a historical tribute to the WWII public campaign aimed at reducing stress on the national food system and coping with rationing.  It’s also somewhat ironic in that we garden for pleasure, for it’s really not feasible now to compete with the prices of farming conglomerate-grown produce.  Nor is it a good time investment.

But it’s fun, and the results are tastier.  And, I get to revel a bit in historical Americana.

Yet the existing garden was too small.  It needed expansion.  It needed to push the boundaries between hobby and chore, the way my in-laws still maintain a garden large enough to feed a German-Catholic family.  For ’tis the manner in which all those with hobbies internally debate why they must still invest the time and energy into an obsession.  But that is not the topic of discussion for this post.  The topic, rather, is what we did, not why.

And what we did was borrow the in-laws’ tiller, to destroy one deeply-rooted icon of Americana (the lawn) for another.  And we did so in a most American fashion–by burning gasoline.

A little amateur engineering cleverness later and I had a small rabbit-deterrent around the perimeter as well.

Surely the ends were worth the means, for we now have one medium-sized timesink with cucumbers on the way!

And weeding…lots of weeding.


Tomatoes, Again!

Yes, I like tomatoes.

And this year, I started them earlier.  I also reinforced the net, mulched, and am spraying neem oil.  Yes–I’m getting serious.


Because I discovered home-grown tomatoes make the best Bloody Marys.  Mmmmm.


The River is Now a Canal

Two years ago I addressed the terrible sump drainage.  At the time we bought the house, an old vacuum hose had been stuck to the output and draped across the lawn and out into the yard.  It was and ugly and inefficient solution, so I dug a trench instead.

The trench worked and looked much nicer, but had a tendency to fill in with debris.  I concluded then that I would use the plethora of unearthed bricks (which we uncover every time a shovel is stuck into the ground) and pave the trench, my reasoning being that the reduced friction would channel the water faster and flush out anything in its way.  And it would look nicer, and hopefully hold up better.

Additionally, I planned to sink a small recess to hold some of the water to give it time to soak into the ground–a rain garden, more or less.  I installed something similar on a downspout, but it was gravel and I don’t want that look in the garden.

And so I dug until I had the desired pit.  Then, as I began placing bricks, the sump pump clicked on and flooded it.  Perhaps I should have unplugged that before starting this project.  Ah well, I’m not one to allow simple forces of the universe, in this case hydrodynamics, to interrupt me.  I continued.

I put a rush in the center

When full, it looks like a reflection pool.  It’s also accumulating mud because it hasn’t dried out yet with all the Spring rain, so I can’t clean it.  And it’s overflowing constantly.  What I should have done was dug out a deep dry well and filled it with rocks, then arranged my bricks on top of that.  Whatever redesign I decide upon, one thing is certain–it needs more capacity.  I will, no doubt, be revisiting this.