I love eating fresh home grown vegetables, but I do not enjoy the work necessary to have them. I like the look of pretty flower gardens, but I don’t like working outside in the dirt to make that happen.
At our old home in the Twin Cities we had an au naturale yard with a few flowers in the back and side of the house, and a couple of pots of flowers on the front steps and in hanging baskets. When my first child was born I got rid of all the indoor plants because that was just one too many things to manage. If someone gives me an indoor plant today, it looks nice for a little while until it dies because I don’t take care of it.
My parents always had beautiful immaculately manicured yards that they landscaped themselves. They had flower gardens, a rhubarb patch, a small vegetable garden, apple trees, raspberry bushes, and border plants around the house and side yards.
Now that we live in their house, it is hard to follow in their footsteps. I am afraid it isn’t going to happen. I have other things I would rather do with my time than garden, such as knitting, spinning and weaving, and Wayne likes to fish and golf. Normally Wayne takes care of most of the outdoor chores and I do more of the indoor chores. I will help outside when necessary, he will help inside as needed. But no way is Wayne going to spend all day every day all summer maintaining the yard and gardens like my dad did.
Just mowing this big yard takes many hours, and Wayne also regularly mows the large lawn at our family cabin property near by. Wayne read an article recently advising that the ideal timing for moving a lawn is once or twice a week. Around here at this time of the year with normal rain levels, the lawn needs to be mowed about every three days. One time my parents planted native prairie grass in a couple of areas of the yard to reduce the amount of mowing and provide a welcoming environment for insects and animals. What happened was that thistles took over in the prairie grass. My dad was spending more time attempting to remove thistles than he had been on mowing, so he gave up and returned the lawn to regular grass.
We are doing what we can to make the yard look presentable by maintaining one annual flower bed, some hanging baskets and pots of flowers in front of the house, as well as low maintenance border plants, and trying to keep the weeds at bay. We are also keeping up the raspberry and rhubarb patches, and growing a few vegetables.
At one time there were a couple of apple trees, but the sandy soil is not ideal for them. They did not make it and eventually were cut down. Maintaining the raspberry bushes is very confusing, since there are different kinds and conflicting suggestions for when and how to prune and manage them. The raspberries have been meaningful to our children, nieces and nephews over the years to the point that our daughter and two nieces got matching raspberry bush tattoos. So I guess we are obligated to keep them going. Two years ago the raspberry plants were looking very sad, so we dug them all up and started over with two different types of plants. There were a minimal number of berries last summer. We’ll see what happens this year. Following is a photo from years ago when my parents had an especially productive raspberry season. This is not what it looks like now.
The weeding is especially discouraging. I can spend hours picking out all the weeds that fill in between the bricks in the front walk and patio, and in the front flower garden. In a matter of weeks they are back. A few years ago we started getting an invasive species of weed from hell in the side yard areas. At first it was just a few plants here and there, but over the years it has taken over in all the border areas of the yard, and even along the road. The roots look like a miniature carrot. If these are edible, we won’t have to worry about going hungry in case of a global food crisis. The next two photos show the horrible weed growing in with some Hosta and among landscaping rocks, and then a close up of one plant I pulled out.
We got a late start in the yard this year due a cold spring and fishing season. I finally did a little weeding in the front of the house on May 29 to prepare that area for annual plants. On May 30 Wayne got out the shovels and tools to turn over the vegetable garden. Depending on where you live, this might seem very late. It is a bit later than normal here, but not that much. I went out to help and found that there were rhubarb stalks ready to pick!
The flower garden in front of the house was full of tall grass and weeds. Following are photos after I had done some of the weeding, and then after annual flowers and new mulch were added. It looks decent but not as nice as when my parents were here.
At sheep shearing day they were giving away garbage bags of fleece waste to use for mulch. It works great for mulch by protecting the soil from extreme temperatures, holding moisture, repelling critters, keeping weeds at bay, and providing nutrients. I brought a bag of the stuff home and although Wayne was skeptical, I used some around the rhubarbs and raspberries after pulling out the weeds. It looks unique and I wonder what folks walking by on road are thinking.
I don’t mind picking fresh produce later in the summer. The green beans usually do very well and we eat them almost every day. I will be happy if I get a couple of carrots and beets. We have had mixed success with tomatoes, but any that we get are so much better than the hard tasteless version at the grocery store. Watch for another post in August with details about the results of our harvest. There might be a photo with my favorite summer meal of freshly caught fish, just picked green beans, locally grown corn on the cob, potatoes from my uncles larger garden, bread from the bread maker, and rhubarb pie for dessert.
I am willing to assist with the work that is necessary to have a nice yard and small garden as long as Wayne is up for doing most of the work. But if some day, by some unforeseen event beyond my control, I end up by myself, I would have to move to a condo where there is no gardening or yardwork.