Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Garden Adventures with Duct Tape

I sometimes like to think of the garden as a place full of beauty and charm where even a brief glance can soothe away stress and lower the heart rate. Other times, I catch a glimpse of undone projects, ailing plants, or visual eyesores and it makes me rethink just what my garden is full of. One example from today: duct tape.

Duct tape has quite an interesting little history, http://www.ideafinder.com/history/inventions/ducttape.htm, which I will leave to the tape scholars. In Alaska, it's more than a useful product to join the duct work, it is legend. You hear plenty of stories up here about what it's been used for, from taping together broken bush plane wings to taping up the faces of snowmachine racers in the Iron Dog race to prevent frostbite. I don't know which stories are true, exaggerated, or downright urban/rural myth, but I do know what we use it for around my place.

My husband and I each have a roll for emergencies in the back of our respective vehicles. The garage has a jumbo pack of 4. I think each of his tool bags has one, too. I can only assume market pressure led to the creation of colored duct tape. A bright green roll was purchased to tape the cowling of (and coordinate with) his electric green snowmachine. With all those fabulous colors, the sky is the limit. You can make a whole outfit from it. Yes, we do that here, too. Have contests in fact. There is even a duct tape regatta. Is there anywhere it doesn't belong? The true Alaskan (apparently) says, "no."

Yes, not even a garden escapes the Alaskan ubiquity of this tape. In it's current incarnation, it is wrapped around a green tarp (great subject for another post, Alaskans love tarps) wrapped around a teak dining table. I tried in vain to explain the durability of this wood to my husband, to no avail. I bought it off a guy who let it sit out all winter high up the Hillside area of Anchorage so I know it can be done. I thought of changing tack and bringing up how ugly it will be to look at all winter but I changed my mind last minute. I've got other fish to fry. And hey, at least it's not a blue tarp!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Fall wrap up!

It is difficult to believe that an Alaskan lawn should still need mowing on September 28th. But tonight, I found myself facing facts: namely, it does. When the mower ran out of gas I decided I was finished mowing the lawn 'til about, say, middle of June.

The children cleaned up the playhouse and sandbox toys. The two adults in the house put the outdoor furniture away. All the fertilizer and hand tools were put in a plastic bin and shucked under the potting table. The bikes wheeled into the garage and hung on the ceiling. Only one task left.

Removing the perennials from my containers and planting them somewhere. At this point in the season, with my holding beds crammed with junk I couldn't do without, any little nook will do. I can't give up on my perennial grasses, even though I do write off dianthus, lamium, and other odds and ends I could try to salvage from the containers. But it's just too cold and I am not motivated enough. I have bread to bake and dinner to make and as my responsibilities loom before me, I turn an increasingly critical eye to what "must" be done to clean up the garden this season. After tonight's family time outside, I realize, not much.
Tomorrow, I write about Alaskans and duct tape and why in the world it is in my garden. Gripping.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Fall clean-up, family style

Did I get any of my yard chores done today? Nope. I shall procrastinate until Monday evening, when the entire brute force of the family is at my disposal.

What sort of labor is a 3 year-old capable of, you ask? In the past, I have assigned the wee tot the following tasks with the age-appropriate phraseology following: pulling any and all dandelion flowers (or "picking the pretty yellow flowers"), tidying up the sandbox toys (or, "get your dump truck off of the thyme, dear"), and dumping a 1-gallon bucket of trimmings on the compost pile (but luckily encouraging phrases are not necessary, as any 3 year-old in their right mind needs no excuse to tip out a bucket's contents).

The 8 year-old is more tricky. The ol' dandelion bit doesn't work anymore. Tidying up the playhouse is iffy. Helping me move the (bulky, heavy) outdoor dining table around the yard until I find just the right spot, yup. Digging up the potatoes on a frigidly cold day, absolutely. In fact, any kind of shallow digging is enthusiastically undertaken, especially if earthworms are liable to turn up.

The adults in the house have the happy thought of a lot of heavy lifting before them. Things lifted, lowered, covered, rolled, stacked, or hung. And the ever onerous task of seasonal container migration. Out and back, up and down. Luckily all the unwieldy pots, the ugly pots, the non-matching pots, and the too-small pots were given away at a garden tour this summer, so at least we don't have to haul those around this fall. I have a little twinge of regret about some of the terracotta pots. They were very pretty. But beastly to move. Better a twinge of regret than a twinge in my lower back, I say.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Excuses, excuses....

Garden tasks I've accomplished today: zilch. But I have looked out the window a few times and noted mentally what I should be doing.

Water (Calamagrostis) grasses in pots

Move blueberry, bergenias

Transplant Fescues from pots to ground

Put away fertilizers

It's hard to find the motivation when it is 46 degrees out there. I am wearing a fleece vest and wool socks inside where it's 68 degrees. I think I'll put it off 'til tomorrow....

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Fab Fall, part 2

You know how the sequel is rarely as good as the original? No matter how much hype surrounds one, you are almost always disappointed. This sequel is no exception. In the interests of full disclosure, I actually wrote "fab fall" on September 9th. On that same night, I realized that dial-up internet is not ideal for posting pictures (or anything else). The situation remedied today, I set out to publish my posting. It was woefully out of date I found, both literally and seasonally. For alas, I have received the news from no less a person than "Miss Lou," our postal carrier, that tomorrow is the end. Of fall, that is. It is supposed to snow. Yes, I spied the "termination dust" on the mountains a couple of days ago, but I had no reason to believe it would be upon us in Anchorage so soon. I think last year we almost made it to Halloween without snow!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Fab fall!

What a lovely fall day it's been. I am trying not to choke over the word "fall" because here in Alaska the transition from green leaves to no leaves is often rather brisk. We burn the candle at both ends straight through our short summer. By the time the snow hits and the summer toys and tools are put away, fall is like a quiet person at last week's party: you think they might have been there but you wouldn't swear to it. So this year I am resolved to enjoy the color changes, flowers going to seed, and my lack of motivation to mow the lawn.


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