By Richard Burke
A spring day in the garden can lead just about anywhere – even if you have a plan for what needs to be done.
Thursday, I awoke planning to take in a box I had built last week for the patio under the Evans cherry tree, beside the dwarf Norland apple tree and about eight feet from the Princes Kay ornamental plum (which produced edible fruit last year and is stunningly in bloom now.) The box serves to hold the chair cushions when they’re not being used, and doubles as a table. It needed to be finished before it got exposed to rain, in the current forecast.
After that, I figured I would set up the four rain barrels. Usually, that’s an easy job, but one of the drain hoses had a kink that I ignored all last year, so I decided to fix it and halve the time rain water drains into the watering can.
Sometime during the day, I planned to go for the third of nine, once-a-week allergy shots. I’m allergic to grass, the doctor says. But, Burnco is on the west side where the Bigelow-Fowler clinic is, so maybe I should make just one trip. On the other hand, I’d need dirty work clothes to shovel garden mix into the back of my pickup for the new vegetable gardens I’d finished building Wednesday. The forecast was for rain sometime, but the morning was sunny, so you need to take advantage of sunny days. I drove straight to the west side yard waste site to empty the back of my pickup and make room for dirt.
I’ve done this many times before, so I know the little Toyota Tacoma pickup box will hold 100 shovels full of soil, especially if at the same time you pick out a few flagstones to complete the front patio.
Two trips to the west side and back, I had shoveled 400 times – 200 into two truck loads and 200 out into the wheelbarrow to transfer into the raised gardens. (I’m still about half a load short, but some already knew that.)
Meantime, Marlene dug up clusters of garlic planted in the boulevard garden two years ago. They were coming up like crazy this spring, so she separated them and transplanted them there, with a little sheep manure, and beside the new vegetable gardens I had plugged several other garlic cloves into last fall. Two were showing signs they like it there.
Still no rain, and the trip for the allergy shot could wait for a day. Time to check out the eaves-troughs, with Marlene’s gentle prodding – I usually clean them in mid-thunderstorm/deluge, a great time to climb a ladder because it’s clear where the clog is that’s causing the flood in the garden path.
I’ve vacuumed, raked, swept and otherwise targeted every green ash seed I could find in the yard, probably a million by now. The neighbour’s ash must have been under a lot of stress last year – I might talk to him about a little watering this year if we don’t get a lot of rain. Out of the eaves-troughs came a bucket and a half of those seeds which, if left there, would surely have caused a huge overflow on the four downspouts, and likely negated setting up the rain barrels. Some had already started to sprout.
At the first downspout, I grabbed a handful of leaves-seeds and within a few seconds, felt a sharp pain in my right palm. Into the house, where Marlene applied baking soda to the wasp bite, while reading online what else to do. Take an antihistamine, which I did, then back up the ladder.
I had no sooner plucked the last seed from the eaves-troughs, and had moved toward where the ladders are stored, when it started to sprinkle.
I hoped we’d get more than that. But, then it was off to hear Ryan Heavy Head at the library, who was speaking on barriers to wildlife in Southern Alberta as part of the Waterton Natural History Association’s Walk on the Wild Side series.
By the way, Ryan is, among other things, the lead conservator for rattlesnakes in the city of Lethbridge. I’ll bet he had something to do with the sign at the top of Bridge Drive West that says Snake Crossing. I noticed that for the first time Thursday on my way back from Burnco with one of my loads of soil. I was going that way because I had another gardening chore to do – return to Canadian Tire the 75-foot hose I bought last week that had at least a dozen kinks in it.
Can’t wait for tomorrow.