With the rows desodded, I could tell immediately that I was going to have to do some amending. The soil that looked all red and lush while it was wet turned into terra cotta clumps of clay when dry. Clay is supposed to be some of the most fertile soil, but the problem is, because it's so compact, the roots can't tunnel through it unless it stays very very moist. While rich in minerals, it needs organic matter to get anything other than trees and grass to grow in it.
I could see I was gonna need some dirt.
I was tempted to just go out into the woods and harvest some humus to add the organic matter I needed, but DUDE, you know how LONG that would take for as many rows as I had? I decided to take the lazy way out and go to Lowe's.
Sam and I did this when we were living in Pennsylvania. We bought bags of topsoil to mix with our local natural soil in order to beef up the clay. So, I did that again. On acid. My first trip through, I bought ten bags of Miracle Gro Organic Choice which is made of organic materials and vegetable compost. Then, I bought twenty five 40lb bags of topsoil. Only, not all of it would fit in the Brute. I ended up having to make two trips. AND because I was too chicken to drive Brutus down to the garden, I unloaded the bags near the garage and hustled them down to the Dream Garden in Big Red. But, with every step, I swore that if I bought more dirt, I was going to drive that Brute right down to the rows.
Ryan insisted on posing in front of the pile. LOL!
And that's what I did yesterday after I got all the bags in place. I could tell that I was going to need more. So, after checking to see if Home Depot had anything interesting, I headed back to Lowe's and got 11 more bags of Miracle Gro and 15 more bags of topsoil. There was this kick ass little garden wagon for $70 that I almost bought (look, you know what a pain in the... well, EVERYWHERE, it is to push a damn 6 cubic foot wheel barrel up a hill? it's hard enough WITHOUT anything in it), but I kept hearing Sam's voice in my head telling me we didn't need it. Not right then. Not that day. (Oh, I have a feeling that I WILL have that little beauty... mainly because it was HALF PRICE compared to other garden dumping wagons... and when I imagine myself hand-repairing the driveway, I do NOT see myself lasting long doing it with Big Red.)
With Brutus loaded to the nines, I drove right down to the Dream Garden and unloaded.
Then, because it was clouding over, I got right to work. Here's what I did:
I pulled the clay soil already in the beds over to the side along the horizontal line of the rows. I then spread half of each bag of topsoil along that rut.
When I got to the end of the row, I pulled the clay OVER the topsoil and did the same to the other horizontal half of the bed, going back over and covering the topsoil with the clay.
After that, I made a CENTER rut and filled that with the Miracle Gro.
With all of it spread, I mixed and stirred in a figure eight, incorporating the different soils, the whole length of the row.
The end result:
When the first row was done, I felt an urgency (because of the impending rain) to lay down some of the cardboard I had prepared so I did that. I thought it might take two or three boxes' worth of cardboard to cover one row's walkway, but I used five on the first row and it still didn't cover every inch. The guy at Lowe's told me to call on a Monday morning and ask the delivery manager to save me whatever refrigerator boxes they might have. Well, it's too late to do it today, but I'll try again next Monday.
Anyway, so I pinned the cardboard boxes down with landscaping anchors and a rubber hammer and it actually worked pretty well. It's not as PRETTY and neat as I had hoped, but oh well.
After the first two rows, I went in to take a water break (and to check on my sidekick who had chosen to stay comped in front of Nick Jr. for the afternoon) and noticed that my incision sites were a little tender. Upon further investigation, I confirmed that yes, my belly button incision was starting to pull apart. I took that as my sign to give it up for the day. I went back out, cleaned up my mess and came back in for a shower. After the shower, I peroxided, neosporined and band-aided my wound and started dinner.
Ryan got his report card on Friday. For the most part, the teacher said that he is doing really well. She said that he does still confuse some letter sounds with French. She also said that he needs to master recognizing the numbers 11-20 in English. AND, she asked that Ryan start practicing his writing in sentences. So, we did that. On Saturday, I took him to that cook bookstore (Little Givens) where they have all kinds of educational aids. I bought him a printed alphabet poster so he can practice his printing. Poor kid writes beautifully in cursive but can't print worth a hoot. I also got him a dry-erase alphabet and some markers so he can practice. I got a numbers banner that goes to 100 and a dry-erase workbook for numbers. I also got a pack of time-telling flash cards. We worked on all that stuff. Ryan's now writing out his sight words, learning to count by fives and tens, learning to tell time (at which he's actually really good) and writing his OWN sentences (with the help of "how do you spell.....?"). Yesterday, he wrote a story about being on a bus whose tired suddenly (yes, he asked how to spell "suddenly" and was very proud to have written it) popped.
Ryan on the tire swing horse in front of the bookstore:
And on the train:
After getting done with all of the dirt in the garden, Ryan and I walked around the yard taking pictures of all the signs of spring. I LOVE it, but feel a sense of bittersweetness because though these signs are GORGEOUS and healing and all, it's just another reminder that I don't have ANY seeds in the ground.
Spring "Out Front":
Ryan taking a picture of me taking a picture of him.
We see deer on a daily basis now. They seem to come through every morning around 8 and we see them bounding away as we go down the driveway. We've tried to catch them on camera but are never fast enough. Ryan LOVES seeing them. And the wonder in his voice makes me choke up with pride and relief.
Well, today is a cloudy one and there are thunderstorm warnings everywhere. That combined with my gorey belly button has convinced me to take the day off from gardening (other than maybe to start my peppers in the peat cups). I bought a wicker over-the-toilet shelf from that new thrift store and I want to paint it black to match the red-and-black Oriental/Ladybug theme I have going on in the bathroom, so I'll probably do that. Also, I bought Ryan a desk there last week. We're going to paint it a white gloss so that Ryan can draw and write all over the desk in washable markers and we can wipe it off when he's done. So, I can do that, too. PLUS, I have a library book that's due on Wednesday (my 35th birthday, by the way), so I'll probably try to finish that. It's supposed to rain today and tomorrow, but that may all be a blessing in disguise. I'll be happy if I get my peas and beans into the existing rows on Thursday and get the other rows "dirt-ed" by the end of the week.
I got my license this morning (well, I didn't GET it as it takes 10 business days to come in, but I got the administrative part done) and registered to vote. I'm impatiently waiting on my Power of Attorney form to come in so I can go sign Sam's name and bring home my hybrid. I thought Brutus was a gas hog before. You should see how much gas it took to bring home all that freakin' soil!!!
Oh, and I was thinking... MAYBE a better temporary solution to the road would be for us to buy a carport and set it up outside the outbuilding down the hill. I drove by a local carport place and they have a nice-sized carport for $600. That seems better than the $4K we'd need to even do a TEMPORARY fix on the driveway. I'll ask Sam.
OH YEAH, and I forgot to tell you about the stink bugs. Okay, so I was being all kumbaya about them. Letting them live in the house because they DIDN'T stink and while UGLY, weren't hurting anyone. THEN, I noticed the other day that they were becoming a little more emboldened. Flying and crawling closer to us or on our stuff (before, they stuck primarily to the windows and doors and lamps, sunning themselves). THEN, on Saturday night as I lie watching my Netflix movie, I felt something creepy, went to scratch and found a stinkbug crawling ON ME. Well, if you think they're ugly, let me tell you that they FEEL even worse than they look. And they SMELLLLL... It's like rotten cilantro. That's the only thing I can use to describe it. Earthy but VERY pungent. And that little sucker BIT ME, too. I read later on the internet that they don't sting or bite, but that one DID and I have the little bump to prove it. So, that pretty much ended the cease fire on the stink bugs. I spent the next couple of hours kicking their asses. I sucked a few up in the vaccuum (which I read AFTERWARDS most bug experts advise AGAINST because the smell will stay in your vacuum and attract new bugs, *eye roll*). But the rest, I smashed with my shoe and sprayed with vinegar water to cut the smell. I think I've gotten most of the ones who were already in here and I don't think more will come in now because it's warm outside and they'll wanna be out there gettin' it on and what not.
Alrighty, better get out there and get to painting/sanding. Have a good one.
My birthday present to myself... Clogs!!!
The pot I'm gonna put the hook from which I'm going to hang the Waspinator:
My birthday present from SAM!!!!
SO SORRY that this post is so disjointed and random, but it was a weird funky exhausting weekend and I'm still trying to recover.