Saturday, April 4, 2009

A Gardener's Workout

I didn't make it to the fitness center today, but it hardly mattered. As it turns out, I got a good gardener's workout at home. The weather was perfect for yard work. The temperature was in the mid 50's and the sun was shining and cheerful. No bugs, no humidity, but much to be done!
Thankfully, nothing else was on the agenda for today so gardening was the priority for a change.

One of the first things I wanted to take care of was emptying the compost tumbler. The compost tumbler is basically a barrel with a removable lid on one end, mounted on an aluminum frame so that you can spin it and mix the contents to help speed the composting process. We add kitchen and yard waste to it throughout the year, give it a spin once in a while, and it takes care of turning it all into nice, black, compost. It had been over a year since we emptied the barrel, so it was getting quite full and heavy. I decided not to bother with sifting out the stuff that was not completely broken down, but instead let the process complete itself in the garden. I dug three good sized holes where I will plant tomatoes once it is warm enough in about mid-May. I filled each hole with about a wheelbarrow load of the compost mixture, then covered them back up with a thin layer of soil. By the time the tomatoes are ready to go in the soil should be rich, fertile, and loamy. Because I'm not yet sure where the rest of my tomatoes will go I decided to pour the remaining compost in one of my original raised beds.

When cleaning last year's vines off the obelisk in the barrel by the front porch I uncovered the nest built by our little running bird. I wonder if she'll be back to set up housekeeping again this year? (September 2008 post.)
Next, I took the loppers to several small Asian honeysuckle plants that had sprung up in the woody area in the back of our property where I have a wildflower bed. I was happy to see a few Trillium, wood poppies, and bleeding heart plants coming up in the bed. We'll be able to better see and enjoy them with some of the invasive shrubs out of the way. There are many more to clear out as I find time.
Finally, I spent a lot of time raking out the flower beds and cleaning out the dead leaves and stems to make way for the new. It is so rewarding to pull off last year's dead plant material and see the new green growth starting to emerge. I was surprised to notice that even the clematis 'Niobe' is starting to leaf out.

As we were outside working, Toby enjoyed having the freedom to roam through the yard. He made countless trips with me to the area where I dump yard waste, and back again, and then over to the other side of the property to see how Nick's trimming work was going. He is such a good garden dog. The cats apparently wanted to be outside, including the new kitten (now named Kit Cooper) who has apparently forgotten how much he wanted to be inside just a few weeks ago. Here are a couple of pictures of Kit on the inside looking out, unlike the first time we met him.

Our orange tabby Ralph, who has cost us a small fortune in vet bills over the past month, did manage to get outside this evening. It took about 30 minutes to find him. We have invested way too much in this silly cat to have him become dinner for some coyote, besides we happen to think he's a pretty cool cat. Fortunately he is safe and sound inside once more.
There is so much more to be done in the yard and gardens, but I think getting so much done today will make later work just that much easier. I know I will sleep well tonight. This gardener is tired!

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