Monday, May 3, 2010

An Empty Veggie Garden is Good For…

Still too wet and cold for me to be planting my veggies out.  This is a good thing, and I’ll tell you why in a minute.  First, ask yourself: ever been surprised in your garden?  I mean really, truly surprised.  This was an experience I had to savor, like drinking orange juice after brushing my teeth, in the garden this week.

spring 055 Yes, James, there was a tarp involved.  My first thought upon glancing at the apocalypse in my garden (in the shape of shovels, trenches, gravel heaps, caulking, and foam board insulation) was “curses on the Y chromosome” as my teeth were being ground down to powder.  Mostly, I was just frozen into place, part of me not wanting to believe what I was seeing.  But I blinked and the carnage was still there.  It has been mentioned briefly, everyday, for the last three months, to everyone under our roof, that we have a garden tour this summer.  People are paying to look at our yard and a certain responsibility (and perhaps a touch of anxiety) goes with that.  I want everything to look dynamite: gravel heaps and tarps are not dynamite, not even in Alaska.

spring 062   My zombie-like demeanor (the raging, lightning quick reflexes zombie, not the slow, dull-witted, and knee-less zombie) must have tipped off the offender as to my state of mind, for their was a hurried explanation all while backing slowly away from me.  The few words that penetrated my consciousness included something about the home energy rebate program, which we have been working on for our home.  Basically, depending on how much more energy efficient you make your home, you can be reimbursed for your costs up to a certain amount.  So we’ve been insulating, replacing old appliances, installing a new garage door, furnace, etc.  The last thing to be done was to “slip” some rigid foam board insulation under the fireplace chase, accessed from outside the house.  Apparently “slipping” the three-inch board under the fireplace frame involves massive earth moving.  And even worse things, for a gardener….

Copy of spring 057 

Yes, take a deep breath or avert your eyes if you need to: you are looking at a fresh footprint in a garden bed, one of many.  I have decided not to show the pictures of the crushed crocuses et al: too graphic.  Mister Energy, as we shall hereafter refer to him, had the gall to stomp through the garden while I was watching.  Shocking!  I treated him to my best soil lecture, complete with references to the convenient rocks placed throughout the bed for any access needs.  Mister Energy struggled with the reasons for hopping from rock to rock.  I started in on pore spaces, oxygen, soil structure, compression of wet and silty spring soils, etc.  Watching a 6’4” man leaping about the garden from rock to rock like Mikhail Baryshnikov was almost worth the previously caused damage.  My only regret, no video camera.  Any YouTube ballet dreams shall remain unfulfilled for now. 

So moving on to alternate reasons for having a veggie garden.  “Are those green things weeds, or what?”  Some ornamental onions were growing (happily) in the gravel and had to be moved during the big dig.  But where to move them?  Most of the garden is still frozen any deeper than about three inches down.  Enter the raised bed in the form of an empty vegetable garden.

spring 063  

As if there were another option.  My holding bed for example, designed for those impulse purchases, has been filled for two years now.  At this juncture, keeping a small corner of the veggie garden free for any other “emergencies” sounds like sensible insurance.  The insulation was installed, the dirt was replaced (well most of it, Mister Energy forgot the three laundry soap buckets full of “bad” dirt in the wheelbarrow…you don’t want to know what he did with them), and the gravel re-laid.  Project accomplished. 

Then he hits me with: “do you think we need to repaint the house?  We’ll have to put a ladder in the middle of this garden bed.” 

Any surprises in your garden?


  1. You don't need to paint the house. With a dynamite garden, NO-ONE will look at the House.

  2. Hi Christine. No surprises yet - I planted extra early this year. It will be a surprise to find sprouts. haha. Nothing like finding footprints in your dirt to get your blood pressure up. At my house it's the neighborhood stray dogs. Even my little one stays out most of the time. Have a good day.

  3. Wonderful post!! I'm glad you didn't post pics of the crushed crocuses, it would have to come with an 'R' rating lol. It's great that you got to use the tarp for something, I'm surprised it isn't the blue one. I had mine out the other day for snow protection purposes, but the winds were too strong (gusting to over 60mph), so I had to use a canoe instead. You can see a pic in my current post if you'd like to. ~Rebecca

  4. How wonderful that you have a sense of humor to get you through these trying times! My garden was on a tour last year and I know the pressure that causes.

  5. aloha christine,

    that sounds challenging indeed and having to keep your starts in check before you plant is such an effort, i applaud your effort...hope the weather gets warmer soon for you!

  6. We have a similar problem with footprints in the seed beds on our allotment plot but they belong to foxes that roam the plot at night.

  7. Oh dear....thankfully, I only had some rosebuds painted over by the house painter last month. I do hope your plants recover from your repairman :-)

  8. So nice to hear that you are taking all this with a good humor! Crocuses crushed! My God! They're my favorite. I understand how painful it'd have been to see them crushed! I hope your plants recover soon...

  9. Well, look who's got tarpitis!!! I'm laughing out loud. Your garden will be a favorite on the tour, I'm sure.

  10. My husband doesn't seem to notice what's going on under his feet when he is doing projects in the yard. Last Spring while he was putting up a new fence I was constantly telling him to watch out for stuff. I think I drove him crazy :)
    I'm sure your garden will look great for the tour, I can imagine it would be stressful though for you trying to get it all ready. Hope the rest of your surprises are good ones!

  11. old paint...ok. But a footprint in the garden bed???!!!

  12. Elephant's Eye made a great point. With a garden like that there's no need to paint the house. And besides painting is boring lol

  13. Oh, you are too funny. I'm sure it will all come together beautifully. And, if not you're a budding comedian so you can easily keep the visitors entertained!

  14. When we tore our greenhouse hydroponic systems out earlier this year I was amazed at how many plants were still alive. Many made it all the way through the winter cold and were starting to actually flourish again.

    The advantage of hydroponics is that when you step on something it wasn't done by mistake. It had to have been intentional because the systems are about a foot off the ground. :)

    Outdoor is a different story altogether. My daughter discovered the Stevia I grew last year and within days I had a bunch of leafless sticks coming out of the ground. This year I have already been asked where the sweet leaves are... I'm sure not to point them out to the children and I tell them everything is poisonous. It does keep them out of the garden. :)

  15. @Chandramouli S
    Yes, terrible situation, wasn't it? I tried to visit your blog by clicking on the link here in the comments section, to no avail. It seems you haven't made your profile public, or some such thing. Anyway, I'd love to visit your blog, somehow....

    Christine in Alaska

  16. Tarps! You can't leave home without them! I use them all the time to mix potting medium on, keep the greenhouse floor clean, shelter perennials dug up while doing divisions, and doubled over to kill off the grass/weeds under it over the season.

    Too bad it doesn't come in as many fun colors as duct tape!

    Thanks for the listing, Christine!

    Brooke Heppinstall
    WoolWood Studio & Gardens

    Brooke H

  17. Christine, good thing you have the "hands of time" before the garden tour. We also will be in the garden tour this summer. This morning I posted on removing lawn, etc and the no comment thingy was on my blog. Have you ever done that? I ask because we seem to do things in parralel.

  18. @Gloria Bonde
    As that would require technical knowledge, the answer is 'nope.' I did notice that when I visited your blog yesterday and wondered;)


  19. I am sure your garden will be wonderful for the tour! Mr. Energy is just like most men. I hate to be sexist. I once had a tree cutter drop a huge tree through the middle of three 40 year old boxwoods. His comment? "Oh, they'll sprout right back." The sad thing was that he didn't have to drop the tree there. He could easily have missed them. Two of the boxwoods were so damaged we had to remove them. The third was deformed and took many years to recover.

  20. I've often wondered how people can stand the stress of having their yard/garden part of the garden walk/tour. Too many things beyond your the weather.

    I know you think I live in the tropics (WI), but we have fresh snow on the ground this A.M. Not much, but still it's SNOW in May.

    As always, luv your sense of humor.


  21. Oh my goodness....I so's as if they will never can buy them books and buy them books!
    I found deer prints in the veggie garden and a few plants missing. When we planted the brussel sprouts I insisted we have row covers to protect the young things.
    Sometime we just have to get firm!
    Your gardnes will be gorgeous for the tour. No worries.

  22. After looking about I have no doubt that your garden will be tour ready when necessary. You just can't do anything with those Energy Fellows. Once they get a mind set it is like having a bull moose sashaying through the garden.


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