This is not optimal!


Yeah, I can see why you would say that it was not optimal to have a tree right there.

Yeah, I can see why you would say that it was not optimal to have a tree right there.

Our friend Grif and I were touring the perimeter in the dark cold of the winter solstice, mostly checking to see if his theory that the previous owners had covered up a brick façade with vinyl siding was correct. Hey, it was the 70’s- people did crazy things. We went around to the south side of the house, and Grif said “Whose canoe?”
“Oh, it’s ours. We don’t take it out very much, and usually it is tipped over on its side by the side of the house.“ It had fallen over, and filled with snow and ice.
Grif was shining the flashlight on the tree growing out of the foundation. He wasn’t really listening to me. “This is not optimal.” He said. “Did you all know you have a tree growing out of your foundation?”
“Umm, yeah.”
“You really have to get this out of there.”
“Yeah, I know, we chop it down every year, but it keeps coming back from the roots.” Although, now that I think about it, did we chop it down this year? Because, it is like up to the peak of the roof, and we may not have taken it down last summer. I don’t go over to the side yard very much, and when I do, I think, yeah, I should probably take out that tree that is growing in the foundation of the house, but then I do something else instead. Like drink tea. Or read the paper. Or eat potato chips.
I don’t love the Sisyphean task of cutting it down, only to have it grow back from dormant buds. Or maybe it is more like a herculean task, where the tree is like the hydra, where you cut off the head and two more grow back. Now, how did Hercules solve that one? Flaming swords, I think, and help from his cousin. That is probably the one tool I haven’t considered.
So, how does one get a tree out of a foundation? Here’s the plan:
Step 1:chop it down before it leafs out. Plants store carbohydrates in their root systems in the fall so they have energy to grow again in spring. If I chop it back to ground level now, the energy from the underground carbs will be directed into dormant buds on what is left of the trunk. Every time I go to that side of the house, I can cut off any green leaves that sprout, and eventually, the energy stores will be depleted, and the tree will die.
Step two: with a sharp spade, dig around the tree on the sides that are accessible, and cut off as much of the root mass as I can reach.
Step 3: poison and shade I don’t like the official poisons that are sold to us as weed killer. It is partly that I am cheap. However, there are things that are not poisonous to me that may prevent the tree from coming back. Salt. Vinegar. Wood chips. MMMMMM…. Salt and vinegar chips.
Wait, focus- we need to get the non-optimal tree out of the foundation. Trying it this weekend. I’ll keep you posted.

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I can’t believe I am spending money on grass!


Gaze at the majestic grass in the sunset, said no one...ever.

Gaze at the majestic grass in the sunset, said no one…ever.

For years, my secret plot has been to rid myself of as much lawn as possible (oops, not so secret anymore, huh?) I have mulched, and created shrub beds, and laid out veggie beds, and perennials, and even sneakily scooted the edging bricks out, expanding the width of every bed by 4 inches each year.
I hate grass- hate mowing, hate fertilizing, hate the amount of water it takes, hate the judgement of people driving by who see my dandelions and shake their heads.
And yet, I just spent 30 bucks on “Revive” an organic, Colorado made fertilizer/soil amendment/wetting agent. Wetting agent sounds gross- it has chelated iron in it, and “pure chicken-shit” as my brother says. (The label actually calls it DPW, which stands for dehydrated poultry waste, which means my brother is right.) The idea is that water will be able to soak in more deeply, and we will be able to water less frequently, but the grass will grow better.
It won’t kill dandelions, but maybe the grass will be able to out compete them? Those judgey people driving by will just have to find something else to judge me on….What will that turn out to be?

(Sorry to anyone who has missed me- the day job plus gardening has left me less time to write…no disasters on the home front, just normal busy-ness.)

get them before they go to seed FAIL! thistle edition.


Doesn't it look pretty, glowing in the late afternoon sun? Yeah. It's a thistle.

I went to a part of the yard that I hadn’t been to check out for  while (no, the yard isn’t that big, but I’ve been busy with school, and taking people to soccer and play practice, and the Girl just started Tae Kwan Do classes, and it was really hot until a few days ago…)

Anyway, the thistles have bloomed. Crud.

Some seed have scattered, some are still attached, so my mode now is to carefully cut off the seed heads and put them in a bag, then put the bag in the trash. My compost doesn’t get hot enough to kill weed seeds, so I avoid putting them in the compost bin.

Philosophically, are my weeds providing me a service? They are holding on to soil, bringing up nutrients from the subsoil, harvesting rainwater, turning atmospheric carbon into fodder for the compost pile?

Yeah.

They do all those things. And more.

But, I don’t want many more of them. Especially the prickly ones. Oh well.