Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Veggie Garden and the Grim Reaper

Nubby Carrots
I finally got around to planting my vegetable garden this weekend.  Or, as I refer to it, the raccoon buffet.  For the past couple of years I have gotten increasingly organized with the garden.  I plan out what I'm going to plant and where it's going to go.  I jot down lessons and tips I learned from the previous year and make changes the next year.  For example, last year taught me that I should not plant the onions next to the beans because the beans block the sun and cause the little onion plants to mold.  I also learned to place the carrot seeds instead of sprinkling them even though it's really tempting to just sprinkle them because the seeds are like tiny specks of dust.  When you sprinkle the carrot seeds they grow way too close together and you end up with tiny little carrot nubs.

Little Lucy Scarecrow
protected our garden bravely.
Last year I had a big tray of seedlings that I started weeks before it was time to plant outdoors.  Everything was labeled.  I even made little signs for the garden and put up a scarecrow.  It was a perfectly lovely little garden, even though the raccoons dug up my corn to eat the peat pots they started in.  We had fresh, home-grown potatoes and yummy peas and beans.  Even the kids ate their veggies when they got to pick them fresh from the garden.  It was great.

Dr. Two Brains and his ray gun.
This year... not so much.  I started some seeds in the little "green house" on my porch, but soon forgot all about them.  They didn't get watered and shriveled up into little brown twigs.  A couple of the more hearty plants survived my lack of attention, so I stuck them in the ground.  We planted some corn, beans, peas, onions, carrots and parsnips. Yeah, parsnips.  The kids picked that one out because of an episode of Word Girl where Dr. Two Brains uses parsnips to power his ray gun to turn gold into potato salad and potato salad into cheese.  It's complicated.

I also finally planted the grape vine that my Mom and Dad gave me for Mother's Day and some pumpkin seeds that were labeled "Jack-Be-Little Pumpkins."  How could I pass that one up?

I'm not enthusiastic about this year's garden.  Not only because I got a late start, but because the morning after planting, I found many little nose and paw prints in neat little rows right where all the seeds used to be buried.  Now, I can't really tell how much those stinking critters actually ate until things start sprouting... on not.  Either way, I'm feeling kind of bummed out.

Also, I saw a street sweeper slowly pass my house this morning and ever since I've had this little ditty stuck in my head.

I fear my veggie garden is dancing with the Reaper.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Lawn, The Weed Hound, and Crocodile Dundee

Mike mowed the lawn this afternoon, a chore we both have been actively ignoring for quite some time. Mike really hates doing it because, when he was a kid, he ran a summer business where he would mow the lawns of practically every neighbor on his street.  He got paid well, but it pretty well burnt him out.  Also, our yard is huge and our lawnmower is old and temperamental.  I've tried several times to do it myself, especially in the summer when Mike is gone 14-hours a day, but it is not a self-propelled mower and I just don't have the strength to push it through the jungle we call home.  We realized that we absolutely had to get to it this past weekend when the kids successfully played hide-and-seek by crouching down in the long grass.  Yeah, we're those neighbors.

Now that the grass is short, the weeds are very evident.  They look all scraggly where there should be smooth blades of grass.  Fortunately, I have this handy lawn tool called the Weed Hound.  It's essentially a claw at the end of a long metal pole, but it works great!  You stick the claw in the center of the weed, step on the little handle to push it into the ground, give a little twist, and it pulls the whole weed out by the roots.  Viola!  You can check the Weed Hound out in action here.  It's a really great tool. 

Now this is a knife!
I'm not paid to tell you how great the Weed Hound is, although maybe I should be.  I just remember back to the days when I was a kid.  My parents would weed the garden using a knife so big that it would make Crocodile Dundee run in the other direction.  We would spend countless hours cutting out weeds from the ground and many more trying to soothe our blistered hands.  During breaks, Dad would teach us how to throw the knife so that it lands sticking straight out of the ground like it does in movies.  This is something that is harder to accomplish than you would think.  But I became quite good at it and I am certain that if things get desperate enough, I can join the circus with a knife throwing act.  In retrospect, teaching a ten-year-old how to throw a knife seems like a pretty dangerous practice, but in our family, we like to promote ethnic stereotypes, so as a good Italian, I know my way around a knife.  Anyhow, the Weed Hound makes quick work of the weeds, and I'm thankful I don't have to cut them out of the ground with a knife anymore.

Beware the
steaming divot!
The downside to the Weed Hound is that it leaves a little hole.  Now, this isn't really a big deal if you have a few weeds here or there.  But I've quickly discovered that we have more weeds than actual grass.  As I remove the weeds, it's starting to look like we have gophers.  There are so many divots that I'm considering having a party where my guests will wear fancy hats and replace the holes with sod like they do at Polo Tournaments.  I don't actually know if they really do that.  Everything I know about Polo I learned from that one scene in Pretty Woman.

So, the lawn is mowed, the weeds are in the process of being removed, and we now look more like responsible home owners.  Just don't look to closely at the paint job on our garage door.  We haven't gotten to that yet...