Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Working my Aster off.

Dear Mom,
This string of mostly dry, very warm days has been ideal for getting yard work and garden projects done. I have very little to show for it though. I continue trying to repair the lawn's drought damaged areas and where it was once bald, it is now sprouting up wispy little baby grass. And LOTS of chickweed. I'll deal with that once the grass seed is firmly established. I've been digging it up where I can do so with out disturbing the new grass too much. I do not exaggerate when I say that this past week I've spent more time pulling weeds than I have knitting.
I've also tilled up my vegetable garden the old fashioned way. With a hoe. If the soil had been difficult to turn over I would never have done it, but once I got going I convinced myself that by manually tilling up the earth I was saving the gas the would run the tiller, emitting no noise pollution or engine exhaust, and getting some really good exercise. I'm also hoping that all my hands on attention will be rewarded with the best vegetables ever. But I do have to admit that while it wasn't all easy, I really do like digging in the dirt and planting things. One of the best feelings, for me, has to be crumbling a chunk of soil into fine bits with my hands. And I like the smell of dirt.It's almost as good as the smell of rain. But then I also like the smell of a wet dog, so there could be something not quite right about me.
 After tilling I added some compost and peat, mixed up my fertilizer recipe and worked that all in. I'll give the dirt a few days to settle, turn over the soil again and then plant- probably sometime next week, depending on the weather. I would like it to rain again before I plant. Why do I have the feeling that now that I've planted stuff that needs water the faucet has been turned off and we won't have anymore rain?
My Hero and I have been sidetracked from out indoor spring cleaning with outdoor projects. A big one has been the fence and our efforts at making it Patsy-proof.
I am not kidding when I say we should have named her FloJo after Florence Griffith Joyner. Patsy can run fast and the fence is just a high hurdle for her.
Last summer we replaced the planks on the gates, making them higher. She just found new spots to hop. We tried placing obstacles on the ground along the fence in her new preferred locations. She found new ones. A good portion of the interior of the fence perimeter is landscaped and not jump-able. But there is still a good portion that is wide open. The motion collar is a deterrent and really did cut down on Patsy's jumping habit. Unfortunately, everytime Patsy is in the backyard someone (usually me) has to be watching her ready to press the button that will vibrate her collar everytime she gets near the fence. With the warm weather we like to keep the door open onto the screened porch which has the doggie door, which means that the dogs can come in and go out whenever. We like that. We don't like that Patsy can't be trusted to stay. in. the. fence.
Our next attempt at Patsy containment was based on the theory that Patsy was using the horizontal 2 X4's to get a lift up and over the fence. We decided to put new planks on the inside of the fence, creating a shadow box type fence. We hoped that not only would she not be able to use that horizontal beam, but the dogs would not be able to see through the fence as easily and perhaps Patsy would not be tempted to leave.

Ok. Not.

But it worked for a few days. I don't know how she manages to get over the fence, but she does. That dog is just too smart. And I hate being outsmarted by a dog.

So now it is Plan.... D? And here is what we're doing. ( I know. Some people are  reading this and wondering why we just didn't get a taller fence. Because I like to be able so see out, that's why. To look out into my backyard and see a 6 or 8 foot wooden wall would make me feel closed in.) We My Hero is taking all the pieces of cedar fence planks that we cut to make fence height and using them to make flower boxes that we are placing ON TOP of the fence. We have come up with a simple design that has a rudder or whatever you want to call it that comes off the bottom of the box and slides down in between the fence boards. The flower boxes could tilt if they are nudged, but the rudder keeps them from falling off the fence or tilting over far enough to spill their contents.
He has made about a doxen flower boxes so far and we are placing them wherever we see even the slightest possibility of an escape. And they look really nice, too.
When the first few boxes were completed and ready to be placed, My Hero asked where Patsy's favorite jumping spot is along the back.
Ummm, I think......HERE.

Yep. Definitely.


So far, the plan is working. We'll keep building and planting flower boxes until we run out of wood or places to put them. I don't want to think about what happens if this doesn't work. Because I don't think this

 is going to blend in with the landscaping.