Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Lo-Down Dirty

Literally. The weeds have taken over.

When we’re all busy away from the house, the weeds take over the yard. After living in a condo, we moved into a house with a good sized yard. Mowing the lawn was mainly my brother’s job with help from Dad. Then my brother went to college and I helped, a little, very little. I was busy with church and Campus Life and marching band mostly. Then I went away to college. And the yard ran away from Dad.

Mom worked in the front yard mainly. At first it was easy, but then that got away from her too.

When I came back home to stay, it was on my mind to help Dad with the backyard. By then, the California grass was fence high. The CA grass invaded our yard because years ago, during a bad storm, Hurricane Iniki probably, the back fence fell down. The grass came from the yard of the house in back. The fence belongs to the landlord of that house who said it was our fence. It took a long time to go through the town association, settle the argument, and then the landlord took a ridiculously long time to put a new fence up. And it’s a crappy fence, but that’s another problem.

Pretty much, the CA grass killed our good grass and all other weed and grew like crazy. I helped Dad cut it down. He tried to spray it with weed killer, but it would grow back. Then he got a tip from a friend on when to spray the weed and it’s working pretty good now.
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Before that, since I’m home a lot working on the Big D, I would work in the backyard until Dad came home from work. The grass was so bad that I kept imagining that I would find a dead body back there. I did, it was a bird, but a dead body nonetheless. Or I thought I might find the dead body of our first stray cat, Nekko. Mom named her Nekko ‘cuz I didn’t know what I wanted to name her. She just stopped coming around one day so I’ve been keeping an eye out.

The backyard is getting under control. It has been a rainy winter and the CA grass has grown back but not as strong. It’s never gonna be as bad as it was before.
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Next to tackle are the front yards. We have four sections in the front: a strip along the street which turns a corner [we live in a corner house], a strip to the right next to the neighbor’s garage, which one connects to a plot along our front wall, and a small square next to our front door.

The bougainvillea and the bushes in the strip along the street grew into monsters. The bougainvillea was the worst, so we attacked that first. The plan was to cut it back just enough to not hang over towards the street so much. I decided to just go at it, all the way.

One of the weekends in Dec, I went on the garage roof to cut down what had grown above the roof. It was a windy day off and on. I have never been up there before. Now I know, if I ever hafta go up there again for whatever reason, to wear long jeans. Otherwise, it wasn’t too bad. Good thing I didn’t start until Dad came home or I’d still be on that roof right now. Well, maybe not. But I did need Dad’s help getting down. I’m short and the ladder is just short that I climbed the ladder and raised myself up onto the fence-wall and then onto the roof. To get off, I crawled backwards on my stomach, hung my legs over, still couldn’t reach the fence wall, crawl back a little more to where I’m almost hanging on by my arms pretty much, had Dad guide my left foot to find the fence-wall again, and got down. It was a little scary for a moment, when I couldn’t feel the fence-wall until I was hanging off, blindly.

I had fun. I like climbing. I like being active and cutting the thick branches nearly killed my muscles every time. My shoulders would ache; I would go until I couldn’t possibly get my arms to lift the big chopper. I would wake up in the middle of the night because my chest muscles would twitch from mimicking the cutting motion I used to cut those thick buggers. I worked hard. I cut the bougainvillea back into a medium-sized bush again. Only a few of the thick branches are still waving in the air. I’ll need safety goggles before I start up the chainsaw and cut those to size with the rest of it. That’s a scary thought, isn’t it? Me with a chainsaw. I’m quite good with the power tools, I assure you.

Now, I’m onto the strip in front of the house. Dad’s taking care of the bougainvillea next to the neighbor’s garage. The strip I’m working on has two medium-sized bougainvilleas, two small bushes in between those, and three small in the front row. Two weeds that are similar in root structure have invaded all the bushes here. One grows into a vine with ferns and develops hardened claws, like thorns, along the stalk. The vine will grow and wrap itself around the bougainvillea, a choking vine I call it. The other is a softer growth that matures out from a central spot, lots of little thorns along the branch, bunches of little leaves to hide the thorns. Near the base grows tiny tomato-like fruits. I call that one the tomato-weed.

I began by cutting all of the growth down. I cut back the bougainvillea; they weren’t too bad, but I’m trying to get a nice shape out of them again. The problem, I found out along the way, is that the two weeds choke out the bushes and drink up all water from getting to the good bushes. Even the bougainvillea are affected, but the small bushes have been taking the brunt of the abuse.

[I’m gonna interject right here to say that I’m listening to Alistair Begg’s Truth For Life podcast. The episode is Planting Hedges in Marriage. I’m not married yet, but possibly storing up the knowledge for when I do become married. Begg is in the middle of an illustration of a house garden being revived by a new house owner and it is describing the work that I’m doing in our front yards. I hope to be able to truly beautify them later, but what a timely story. I don’t know if that’s ever happened so tightly before.]

Back to the dirt.

After cutting down the weeds, I attacked the roots of the tomato-weed. I pulled up small fresh ones to find that thick water pockets went along the roots here and there. Aha, the weed is taking up the water from the ground so that the water doesn’t get to the bushes. I dig up more roots and find that just under the top layer of rock, the roots spread out and entangle each other into a web network of roots. The roots are not very deep, maybe 3 or 4 inches down. I reach one of the core from which the greenery grew. The core is thick. I cut into it and chunks fly out. The consistency is that of tree bark.

A core had wrapped around the base of one of the small bushes in front so I took care of that one first. It looked like the worst one and I had to be careful so as not to damage the roots of the bush. That took a few days. Dad came out and seeing that I was really hacking into the core, pried out a huge chunk. Just like a father, to come out, help us out but in the help, makes it look effortless. He did it in 2 whacks and a strong pull. Meanwhile, it had taken me 10 whacks and about 3 pulls in maybe 15 minutes. Then he went back inside. He later told me that he didn’t expect it to be so thick. He’s glad that I’m tackling it.

The other day, I attacked the core of the choking vine…and found out that it’s worse than the core of the tomato-weed. I hafta cut the vine all the way down to the core because the claws will cut into my hands. The roots spread out from underneath the core, huge thick-honkin’ roots that are also sopping up the water from around the bougainvillea.

The road strip has quite a few choking vine cores and a whole bunch of fresh vines just beginning to sprout. I worked on those today. They stink. The thick roots grow deep into the ground along with spreading out. They look like giant worms.

I dug up a few earthworms in the process of all of this weeding by the way. I was thinking of collecting some worms, try to make my own vermi-compost thing, what is that called? The box of dirt and worms where I would throw away stuff and they’d digest the garbage and turn it into usable dirt or something. So far I just left them where they were.

And there’s a lizard that lives in one of the bougainvillea, the one by the gate. It jumped down my shirt one day. Then it ran out. It came back to jump from the bougainvillea to the small bush I was working on, startling me each time. I finally had it and went back inside.

Anyways, so that’s some of what I’ve been doing on my breaks from Big D. I hope I will be married someday so I can give the dirt work to my husband. If he doesn’t like doing dirt work, then he’ll be right next to me and we’ll do the work together. Oh, I don’t mind doing the work and getting dirty, but I want a man. That’s a different subject altogether I think. I’m done here.

I know, it hasn’t been that interesting in a long while, but no one’s commented on anything so as far as I know I’m still writing all this for myself and it’s all interesting to me and that’s enough for me.

The posted picture is of the roots of the tomato-weed that I've been pulling up. Ugly things, aren't they?

Mahalo for reading in.