Gardening sucks this year. At least six times we’ve had to cover the plants from late and even later freezes. Eight times we’ve had to cover them from hail damage. They are too big to cover now. Because of the frequent and heavy precipitation, weeding has become nearly impossible, in part because the soil won’t bear my weight so I can get to the weeds. I’m doing things completely different next year.
The only computer games I’ve played are puzzles and solitaire. I don’t like most video games. I can’t get up enough interest to fight through and lose repeatedly until I figure out the game. It’s not in my personality to tolerate such things. However, the one kind of game I’d really like to play, no one will ever make. I really enjoy the part in some RPGs where you explore a very well thought out landscape. Something like Fallout 3 without the necessity of fighting would suit me well, but the market for such a thing is minuscule. It’s the visual equivalent of a really good adventure novel in terms of how the user experiences it, but there simply aren’t that many folks like me in that respect.
I’m a serious geography geek. Not in the memorization of places and things, but in the exploration. I’d give almost anything to see Europe again and visit all those places I never had time to see. As it was, I spent at least half my weekends volksmarching or biking and hiking in general. I simply wanted to see the places close up and personal. Weather conditions never made any difference. I was out in 40C heat or saw frost trails hanging from fences.
After my upper body workout on the machine at the park, I rode a bit farther to see the new terrain around Crutcho community. Crutcho Creek, running on the south side of it, overflows as soon as someone spits in it. The little community has flooded repeatedly over the years. This time, something had changed. A mile to the north is a landfill operation. They have a massive mountain of dirt and solid waste. The operation has expanded, buying up an old farm of some forty acres or so, which stood between the Mount Trashmore and Crutcho community. The landfill folks scooped out the entire acreage for the soil to cover their trash, and left a massive lagoon at least ten feet deep. This time Crutcho Creek really overflowed and ran across the whole community and over the main highway between the buildings and the new lagoon. As it fell over the side into the lagoon, it ate the soil away until it backed out a huge channel all the way to the road. This whole area is nothing more than alluvial sand in the first place (North Canadian River Valley), so it spread along both directions quite a ways. Two of the four lanes became unsafe, with most of the far lane already crumbling into this new massive channel that runs a hundred yards or so alongside the road bed. A nice geography lesson in miniature.
Edit: Couple of images of the washout from Crutcho can be found here.
First item is the main collection. We interspersed tomatoes with peppers, and each one is different. You may be able to see some early fruit on the purple tomato vine. In the background against the fence are peas, beans, another kind of peas and radishes. Somewhere far at the rear is lettuce.
At the opposite end of this patch is the strawberries. Last spring we planted one large and two tiny sprouts. The drought prevented much fruit from growing, but I watered and fed regularly, and when the rains came back in the fall, they spread out a little.
Last summer, after the rather disastrous growing season in our little garden, I took over from Dad. Instead of leaving our red clay soil as is, I broke it up using an all-steel shovel and very many hours of slicing and dicing the brick-like slabs into small crumbles. Even more hours went into schlepping mulch from the other end of the trailer park. Each time, I would spread a thick layer, let it rain, then turn it all under. I did this for three layers. Finally, I tilled it all two more times with the shovel.
Then I covered it all in pine needles and left it for the winter. It stayed above freezing just below the surface, and was damp throughout the recent drought. I know this because there is only one weed in this area which likes pine needles — we call it chickweed. Edible, but not very tasty and not especially nutritious. It grew immediately after the first snow thawed, and stayed green through unusually low temperatures and more snow.
That meant in order for me to make it ready for spring planting, I had to pull off the pine needles, pull those weeds, and turn it all under a couple more times. It looks more like potting soil than hard red clay. That’s done today, and the pine needles are back down just in time for our first spring rain tonight and tomorrow.
We plant later this week, starting with blue potatoes. We also have some strawberries, tomatoes, beets and a few other goodies. The choosing and planting really isn’t my department. I’m just the rototiller.