Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Quaint vignettes from my charming rural idyll

We've hit that stretch of 'false spring' we get up in these parts. Certain signs: bulbs breaking dormancy with frostbitten noses, eagles sitting their nests, and FirstNations ass-up next to the road pitching and bitching. I nabbed back some shrubs and trees, tore out a bunch of old dead stems and seedheads, and walked around shaking my head and squinting at things. Still, it COUNTS. I made a mess. It's gardening.

I'm going to finish up all my late winter pruning, stack that up, and then get into some serious compost turning action, weather permitting. I cannot wait to stick a pitchfork into that stuff and see what happened over winter. I had an amazing amount of breakdown this season, about 2/3 less mass than what I started out with. Usually it's about 1/2. I think its because of the extreme weather we've had; that, and all the visitors, like crows and ravens and raccoons and mice and hippies and whatnot.

I look forward to the first turning of the year. I really get a kick out of seeing who's been in there and the traces they've left behind...tunnels, seed caches, tiny round nests, flask-shaped hibernaculums lined with clematis fluff, and occasional mortal remains. I'm particularly curious to see if maybe I have an extra large number of angleworms in the heap because of the flooding we had during the winter.

After any spell of cold or rainy weather the compost heap will have a zone of giant freaky long angleworms, chased up out of the deep soil by the rising water table, knotted up in big tangles like spaghetti all around the edges . If I'm careful I can transfer them in handfuls without waking them up too much right into the soft soil of my raised beds and cover them over. Once they wake up they're amazingly fast, strong and agile. They go through my heavy clay soil like mining equipment and leave tunnels as big around as my index finger. These are some buff damn worms. They can beat up your angleworms. Seriously. I try not to piss them off.

Anyone else that gets uncovered has to take their chances, though. The robins always line up on the fence impatient for me to finish and watch me while I turn the heap, giving me one-eyed glares with their heads thrust forward in a grouchy manner. When I get done I watch them from the kitchen window going back and forth from the fence to the heap, flinging chunks of compost out into the yard in their greed, getting chubbier and chubbier as they feast on all the slug eggs and redworms and centipedes and potato bugs I've turned up.

This year I have to take out a couple of trees...a Bradford pear and a Leyland cypress. The Bradford is simply a nuisance. We bought it as an ornamental. It was supposed to be male. It wasn't supposed to fruit. After a few years of throwing a single pear, if that, it suddenly decided to blast out bushels and bushels of fruit like a mad thing, much to the delight of every hornet, crow and raccoon in the neighborhood. Time for you to die, Bradford pear.

The Leyland simply got away from me. And take that as a warning, kids: cupressus leylandii grows like a mad motherfucker. I had been nabbing it back pretty faithfully, keeping it low and stout, but then I left it go for a year. That was all it took. Now instead of a nice short, trim, full tree I have a tall wandy nuisance that's shading out my magnolia stellata. I have to jump on it too before it gets too big for me to handle myself, thus begging the intervention of the Yummy Biker, who does NOT belong in the garden because he makes my plants very sad. (Plus he has cooties and boy germs.) Besides, this gives me an excuse to use my chainsaw, and I'M BY GOD GOING TO USE MY CHAINSAW.
...my chainsaw! MINE!!!!!

Seriously, can you think of a better way to bring in the new gardening season than by using loud destructive equipment to kill a perfectly healthy tree? I can't. It's gonna be awesome!


  1. A perfect opportunity for a photo of a nekkid arborist and you blew it.

    I cannot wait to stick a pitchfork into your ass.

  2. Don't forget the noxious, utterly inorganic poison you need to squirt into the roots to make sure they're utterly dead and gone.

    Then you have to detonate several small nuclear devices in the Amazon rain forest. And kick a panda in the nuts.

  3. Don't listen to Tim. He is a very naughty boy. Just cover the roots with something that stops the light getting in.
    Scurra. Planet lover.
    and twat.

  4. Gardening? In February? What planet do you live on?

    No, wait... what planet do I live on? It is still -20 here. I could bitch about the cold again but why bother? December and January were the third coldest on record here....

    I have reason to complain.

    Have fun with the chainsaw!

  5. Are you sure your angleworms can beat up mine? I am pretty sure mine work out by moving my wood pile around just for giggles.

  6. When wielding a chainsaw it is recommended that you frequently break into bouts of maniacal laughter.

    Well I do.

  7. Anonymous5:51 AM

    Chainsaw? How rude and unsporty! What about the good ole axe? Axt und Beil ...

  8. mj: NO. NO NO NO NO NO. No toilet planters, no nekkid arborists, no pitchforks, no no no. AND NO TOILET PLANTER. no.

    tim: I blame YOU for global warming. You, and Shonen Knife.

    vicus: thank you. you can come over and help chase Shonen Knife out of my garden any time.

    ponita: i live somewhat south of you, where the normal weather is. you see? there are advantages in not living in a country whose flag features a wheel of cheese. or whatever that red thing is.

    gale: these things are like fricken' anacondas. you find them 4 feet down in solid blue clay whuppin' along like Dune sandworms. we should stage a cagematch!!

    billy: and it warms the cockles of my heart imagining it, too, my darling! XX!

    mago: people gifted with large frontal endowments are not meant to swing an axe, much to my chagrin.

  9. Anonymous8:25 AM

    Hmm much louder and much more fun, giant four wheel truck with chain winch to take out tree by...don't forget to duck! Cost? case of suds. Retri

    So any hints on how to save the doomed Pointsettia that we get at the office every year? Just yesterday pitched the poor dead thing into the garbage.

  10. retro, just DO NOT buy them, they are fussy bishes. You have to make a mock-dormant cycle in a closet for them and everything, it ain't worth it. kinda like african violets.

  11. I have also declared a fatwa on the cooking apple tree in my back garden - its old and diseased and hasn't produced fruit for about five years.

    Unfortunately I don't have a chainsaw so I'm gradually sawing off branches with a saw.

    You smell like Hyancinths

  12. Ah the first harbinger of spring
    A soil nerd cavorting in her compost heap

    ***wanders off thinking of topless chainsaw action***

  13. Anonymous10:46 PM

    When I wear some good pants there's no danger ...

  14. Of false spring, I would quote:
    "April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land..."

    Compost heaps are fascinating, it's like having heaven in the palm of your, oh, no, I meant in your backyard. But you know what I mean, they provide so much more than just black stuff to put on the soil. Do you also get Slow-worms in your compost? We have them over here. golden-brown legless lizards. Sadly, they get killed often by the ignoratii who think that they are snakes.

    Careful with that Chainsaw, Charlotte :)

    And if you don't want to leave that ugly stump sticking out from your ground like a stubby penis non-erectus, there is no tap-root to bother you. Dig a trench all around it, cutting through the radial roots as you uncover them, dig underneath the bole of the stump as much as you can, and then wedge a scaffold pole or other strong beam into the ground under the bole, stick a rock or stone beneath the pole to act as a fulcrum, and then invite YB into the garden to join you in a bit of bouncy-bouncy. The stump will lever out if you sneak up on it, rather than rush in and try to rip from it's earthy womb untimely. Done it several times now, and it's good burning wood after standing for a year.

  15. The ONE harbinger of spring I remember from my youth was the sound of very loud peepers in the night in March, that meant new grass and summer was just around the corner. Where I live now peepers are more or less drowned out by the celebrations of louder vertebrates.

  16. Oh wait, could throw I the Pointsettia in the compost heap? Would that do quality as a quasi dormant dark area?

  17. We were out Sunday cutting down the apple tree. It was diseased, but still put out some green and apples. B said to just prune, but somewhere along the line she said prune more, so now all we have is stump. Chain saw wouldn't start, so it's dig out the stump this coming weekend. Should be up around 68 or so, good time for it.
    And no big worms here. Little puny things, but no night crawlers. Guess too much alkalai and heat.

  18. Chainsaws are the best part of yard work...and I agree with Billy. Laughter is required.

  19. Anonymous3:02 PM

    I hope you do not get set on by Grizzly Bears... thats all I can say.

  20. I am unfamiliar with this "spring" thing you speak of. We do not have such things here. It did get to 34 degrees one day last month, now it's back to horridly hot.

    What brand of chainsaw do you have? I'm partial to Husqvarna, myself. Cuz I'm a snob like that.

  21. Anonymous5:06 PM

    You don't need advice from me. But, when you've done with that lethal weapon, could I borrow it,please? The bananas have got beyond my Famous Backhand this year.

  22. i am so sick of this winter...it was almost 60 the other day and i was in shorts...yesterday it was -6...wtf...i would have a chain saw in hand if i had one...lol...apparently no one who knows me wants me to have full access...i can't imagine why?

  23. I'm going to turn my first EVER compost heap this weekend. I've very excited. I wonder if I will have angleworms.

    Do you have acute angleworms or obtuse angleworms?

  24. anon: thats how you take care of a christmas poinsettia as far as i'm concerned. well done!

    bitchypants: yeah. what she said.

    frobi:you smell like sinful bad ratly antics performed in dark slippery places full of old french fries and old frenchmen. i have no idea what i mean by that either. X!

    beast: *gives beast a twirlie in toilet planter*

    mago: dont get too enthusiastic with that pruner, euro-boy! you could lose your 'gentile' status in the blink of an eye.

    sopwith: i notice with happiness that you are back and posting! as for the stump, im going to leave it in and stick a birdfeeder on it. the rest of the evil thing will get burnt this summer in my firepit. thanks for the tutorial, though...that might come in handy sooner than i want...i have a noble fir out front that tends to lean and heave alarmingly during a strong southerly rain. yikes!

    retro1: we get them so loud here they wake you up, partiers notwithstanding-retro2: like i said, ya done good. DIE POINSETTIA DIE!!!!!!!!

    joeVEgas: you could leave the stump in and put a feeder on it like im going to do. you'll attract interesting birds if you like that kind of thing. or maybe even croupiers or hippies where you are, i don't know.

    geo: any power equipment RAWKS!!! destroy! maim! ignite! flay! rend! MUAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!

    mr. the dog: the only bears around here are either small, black and fourlegged or human, male and three-legged. so it pretty much depends. *puts on gloria estaban cd, points speakers outside and coats self in Old Spice aftershave*

    xul: poulan, baby. as hard as i am on equipment it needs to be cheap and disposable!
    wow, that sounds wrong now that i read it.
    nah, never mind.

    dinah: dont you dare touch a thing out there. its BEAUTIFUL.

    daisy: its the same reason they won't get me a mini-backhoe. HELP HELP WE'RE BEING OPPRESSED WE'RE BEING OPPRESSED!!!

    Mrs. Pirate Bitch: thats so cool! *wipes tears of pride* my angleworms are mostly obtuse. you tell them a joke and like they just look at you with this stupid expression.

  25. Anonymous5:25 PM

    I'm just a goy Euro boy.

  26. Yay for spring! I can't wait for your pictorials of your yard. (hint)

    Our spring is about sprung here. I know because the blue hyacinths have hundreds of buds on them that will shortly be glorious blue/purple flowers. They show up first. The pink jasmine are a close second. Hubby is the green thumb and our yard is like fairy land. (how I love him so)

    Do you ever find those huge white disgusting grub things? I find those in my horses stalls sometimes. I do not like them. They are gross. The ravens dig on them though.

  27. I'll have you know we have maple flavoured cheese wheels up here. That's what's on our flag.

    Still, that doesn't make 9 months of winter any better.

    Chainsaws are fun! So are axes... I am not so frontally endowed as to impede axes. Just enough to impede men... hee hee hee!