Gardening: Z is for Zucchini

2024 GARDENING / HOME IMPROVEMENTS

This year I added a raised garden after tax season. On and off for a little gathering all the parts, then two days of concentrated effort, but the home for Tomatoes, Yellow Squash, and Zucchini is complete! (Just like the A-to-Z challenge.)

First thing I did was get my containers in order. I bought mint and tomatoes in early April then never had a chance to plant them. Eventually I cleared out the growth from 2022 and 2023 when I ignored the pots, but by then the mint and tomatoes were mostly dead.

I went out and bought more mint and tomatoes, plus supplies for the raised garden. Now the deadline kicks in. I need to get the new plants in a container soon.

I got the raised garden back in January when I was flush with day-job money and hope that THIS is the year I will find time during tax season to get my gardening done before the heat of May kick in for the south.

Yes, I do this dance every year, and every year I fail, but this year I was determined. (shush you, yes, the mint died – which takes some very determined neglect, but this year will be different!)

I had the raised garden pieces. Eight screw-nut combinations are needed to attach each panel together and the end result would be a two-foot deep bed. One hundred and twelve screw-nut combinations later, I got it assembled.

Working on the table with all the nuts and screws until the parts get too big.

 

 

First part assembled.
Nuts-screws are really hard to tighten all by yourself, but I got it done!!! The empty form for the raised bed is complete.

 

Now that the form is ready. I need to go get the dirt. Being just me and my mini-van (their name is Grey), I will need to buy bags of soil.

Soil is purchased – nine bags, plus 3 bags I already have for a total of 12. I hope it is enough.

 

 

Now to get the final touch, those plants that I bought last week. Did I get all of this done in time?

Everything is planted. It looks pretty. Hopefully it will taste delicious in a few month. The wonderful things about making the raised bed is it should be easier going forward to get everything done in future years. We shall see.

I got this done by the May Heat Deadline – go me! (And thanks to everyone on A-to-Z for their visits. Have a great year.)

It is not enough. The raised bed is about half-full, but that is all the energy I have. I’ll add more next year.

Other Cool Blogs: Guerrilla Gardening

Image – Guerrilla Gardening 15 December 2015: Brick Layers Arms, Southward London

Plants bring joy, and emotional wellbeing, and health to an urban area, but how to fit them in between the pavement and the buildings. Well, a little Guerrilla Gardening might solve the issue: Buckets of plants, replacing weed areas with flowers, creating moveable gardens of produce.

A great blog about how to go about this is GuerrillaGardening.org: https://www.guerrillagardening.org/

A friend had me make seed bombs for her to enhance the dead areas around her apartment building.

Related to this is urban agriculture, but guerrilla gardening is more about beautification than food insecurity. Either way – flower or food – it makes the world a better place.

Garden: Lawn Leveling

One of the many random holes filled in

This year I fixed my lawn a bit. It really needed it and it took a lot of work.

I had a row of holes in the backyard where trees were removed before I moved here; the previous owner filled in the three holes with large rocks. What a fail! I removed the rocks and have slowly been adding soil to them every other year to get them level with the rest of the yard. They were the first of the issues, but after eight years of home ownership, things have gotten treacherous in other locations as well.

Mowing my lawn is a monthly challenge with a maze of tripping hazards.

The worst of the voles ankle-twisting areas. I think 20 bags of soil went here.

Voles have been attacking the front yard, leaving an ankle-twisting mess.

Along the sides of the house, dirt has disappeared somewhere. Plus other random holes that just develop over time.

So I bought dirt from various home improvement stores (bought out three stores) to level the yard during September and October. I got this neato leveling dirt tool which really sped things up – no raking and shoveling. Just dump a bag of dirt and zip back and forth for a while until all-flat. Toss some seed on top of it.

Total bags bought … 60! I think they weighed about 40 pounds on average. They are sold by volume. When wet, they weigh a lot more (and broke more easily – man, my van got muddy during this project). Basically I moved a ton of soil this fall. (60 * 40 = 2,400 pounds)

The grass is beginning to grow in. I’ll need to touch up on this going forward. I’m thinking about 10 bags a year for maintenance.

Along the front of the house where a lot of soil had disappeared. The fix has an added bonusĀ  in that the basement isn’t flooding as much.

 

And another side of the house taking four bags of soil.

Gardening: Annexing the Neighbor

Between injuries and jobs, I haven’t really had time to work hard on my yard. At nearly a quarter acre (with a small house), I have a lot of plants – each with their own needs and ideas. Yes, their own ideas.

I’ve divided the various areas in my head to the lowland fens, the highlands, the front yard, the strip, the orchard, the back meadow, the pining angel, the dogwood, the backyard, and the jungle.

(Pictures taken 3/5/2023)

Welcome to my jungle.

Picture of backyard behind fence

Left to right are the weed trees, the thorns, the vines, and the bushes.

First the weed trees

These tree grow fast and are unstable. They need to go, but the vines … so many vines in the jungle, make them hard to get to. In addition, weed trees are hard to kill – they grow nearly as fast as I can cut them back.

Second are the thorns centered around the volunteer holly trees. Plural. And thorn vines, at least two types. I think the jungle has six different types of vines at this point – two types of thorns, the wisteria, the honeysuckle, and at least two more I don’t know other than die, die me-hardy vines.

In front of the holly trees are one of the many volunteer mimosas I’m trying to remove. Talk about weed tree volunteers. One is cracking cinder blocks near my foundation in the jungle area.

Third are the vines. Like I said, I got a lot of vines.

Last but not least is the bushes .. or bush. It’s really out of control. When I bought the house, the bush was a cute little ball in the corner of the fence.

It’s grown.

Part of me really loves the wildness of my jungle. It also hides my backyard, giving my corner house the only non-visible from the street area.

The problem is, it isn’t only “my” jungle. The jungle is actively trying to annex my neighbor’s yard. Here is a picture of the fenceline straight on, you can see all the bushes trying to come through. This is AFTER my neighbor hired a handyman to cut everything down and laid down some weedkiller. Two months later, it looks like this:

And the vines are in league with the oversized bush, running spies under and through the fence:

As I have time, I am attacking the jungle. This is my most recent pile … yes, the above pictures are after this pruning occurred.

One of my ongoing goals is removing my jungle and replacing the hill with azaleas, rock walks, and bulbs. Something maintainable, that won’t be trying to take over the world.

 

What the house looked like when I first moved in … needless to say, I got a long way to go.

Art: Litter Collection

I live behind the “low-rent” shopping center in town – you’ve seen them – the ones with two tax prep places, GoodWill and the Kidney donation stores as “anchors”, Big Lots, the Spanish supermarket, a rental store, a cash checking “bank”, and a laundry mat, plus a Chinese takeout place. Mine is too low-end for even a pizza place; that is in the shopping center across the street in front of the Walmart. The non-standard items in this sprawling decrepit tapped-out capitalistic mecca is the biker bar (member-only) and a weekend auction house.

Between the three dumpsters, plus the Wendy’s at the corner, we have two or three trash trucks go through on any given day and most don’t put that barrier across the top as they travel through the neighborhood because of the low speeds. Which means trash is constantly being blown out of the dump trucks. More trash travels from people dropping something in the large parking lot when going into shop or coming back. The highway frontage doesn’t help. And still more trash is accumulated from the three bus stops and one bus station in the area as people walk to them, from them, and between them while eating or smoking and just dropping one “minor” thing. That is a lot of minor stuff between everyone.

Every day, I take a shopping bag and go out and collect trash for fifteen minutes as a break from writing. I only go one block each direction from my little corner – north, south, east, and west. Just one direction per day.

Every day I come back with a full bag of trash. I’ve been doing this for years.

That is how much litter is in my little part of the world. A small bag every day. If I don’t do it for a month, I’m 30 bags behind and can collect them if I double or triple up the bags for a longer walk.

I’ve had random passers-by ask if I am doing forced community service. I’m like “I live here and want to have a clean place to live.”

I mean how hard it that to understand? You live in the world, maintenance is needed.

I can’t stand exercise just to exercise. And just cleaning trash would annoy me to. But combining the two, making the world prettier and keeping me healthy at the same time – just all the positives.

Litter collection – community, personal health, gardening, making the world pretty. An art in itself.

January is just around the corner and many people make exercise commitments, but don’t stick with them because … exercise just to exercise doesn’t have much incentive. Maybe doing something as a “plus” might help like it does for me. Get a little reacher thing (available in the Walmarts in the pharmacy area near the canes) and take one of the small shopping bags and collect litter for 15 minutes each day on your walk. You too can leave the world better than you found it each and every day.