Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Spring Planting

I gave myself a 3-day weekend to ensure I had time enough to do my usual weekend collapse as well as planting flowers and/or herbs/veggies in the front and back gardens. The front is along the Grand Central Parkway, so although it has lots of sun, I wouldn’t want to plant edibles there what with all the soot and exhaust fumes. Of course, planting the front garden was not necessary in years past, but since Metro Management vandalized my tree, I’ve had to cover what was formerly covered by the blue spruce’s branches with flowers. The blue spruce’s roots are far reaching and shallow, so digging in the soil is precarious. Therefore I decided to create a “moat” of sorts, not dug in but built up with fencing and topsoil mixed with peat moss.

Leave it to Lowe’s — I found a couple different fencing choices. None of them would do what I envisioned. Actually, I am much too lazy to do what I envisioned, which was to have a higher “wall” on the side of the tree farther from the building where the land sloped down, and a lower one close to the building. I did this:

OK, I can not only not draw straight lines, I can’t make a border (or whatever) that is consistently 8 inches across. The result may be a bit lopsided, but it has ... character. I then planted some pretty red and pink flowers, some white pansies, something resembling 8 inches apart. Hopefully they’ll fill in. Water water water.

Now what did I forget?

Out back I planted some veggies, which are always an experiment: a zucchini plant, a cucumber plant, and a crookneck squash.

Then I piled a bunch of pink petunias into a couple pots, and watered all. Not bad.

What did I forget?

Mulch. The front and back new plantings in the new topsoil should be protected with mulch. By this time the aching from carrying seven bags of top soil around was already setting in, so I decided the rest would wait until tomorrow. So on the third day of my weekend, I set off in the morning to the local hardware store, with a little wheely thing in tow. There were workmen digging away near the laundry room, so I determined not to do laundry only to have it covered with dirt on the way back. I assumed they were Verizon employees, who had marked the locations of Time Warner’s underground cabling some weeks earlier, I suppose so they don’t cut them while digging new trenches to lay Verizon Fios cable inside pipes.  The pipes didn’t look awfully sturdy to lay i’ the cold ground.

Out here in the boondocks, we don’t have “city blocks” to make judging distances easy, but the hardware store is about a block past my morning bus stop, which is approximately five city blocks from my front door. Winters I’ve carried home my Christmas trees from the same block, and it’s easy. But a big bag of mulch? Probably not. Alas, they didn’t carry mulch at all, so I’d have to drive somewhere. The closest supplier I was sure would carry mulch was the Home Depot on Metropolitan Avenue, “around the corner” (a very large corner) from the supermarket, so away I went, combining chores, and praying to get the same parking spot on my return. 

With a large bag of mulch in the trunk, two flats of red and pink impatiens on the back seat (must vacuum back there!) plus several bags of groceries later, I got an even closer parking spot to my front door. Frabjous day.

But what’s this? A bunch of guys sitting on my front stoop and the step of the apartment opposite me, having their lunch. Equipment, shovels, stuff. These must be the Verizon guys, but now they’re digging between my building and the next. It seems unlikely that I’m going to work in my front yard with these guys there, so I leave the mulch in the trunk, and lug in the groceries. Returned for the two flats later, so now they’re sitting out back.

Out back: a guy with a machine that digs trenches. It’s odd to have a motor turning over in my back garden, a disconcerting sound. The machine driver and I cleared my pots and plant tables and birdbaths from the path of the machine (most of which are technically not in my territory, which is the width of my apartment – the no man’s land where he wanted to dig a trench to the cater-corner building is covered in weeds and vines. Maybe they’ll get rid of some of those.). He said he’d put them all back, but I doubted it.

Note: Tuesday, he has not moved it all back.

Over the last several days as I worked in the garden with the wonderful soil, I started deepening an annoying cold and cough I’d picked up somewhere. My aches became less muscular and more flu-like. Sigh. Now my head is too heavy to do anything but photograph the long mound in between my building and the next. Too long for a grave. There are young men in the back again today, digging and covering the trench to the cater-corner building. Now I have lumpy graves.

If I feel better later, maybe I’ll break out the mulch.

~ Molly Matera, signing off. Unfortunately not cleaning up the back garden until the weekend comes.

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