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It breaks my heart

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It breaks my heart

Post  Kelejan on 10/24/2013, 2:33 pm

I suppose I should not be so dramatic but: have you ever wished you could swop houses or gardens with someone else?

Today I hired a friend of a friend to trim part of the overgrown cedar hedge that blocks so much sunlight from my little house and has caused damage in the past by
being weighed down by snow and resting on my roof.

He has no transport so my friend brought him over, he did his work, then I took him home.  He lives in the street that my husband and I lived in over thirty years ago when we first came to Canada.  We lost the house through bankruptcy and moved into town to run a small business, finally saving up enough for a deposit for the house that I now live in.

My house is on the north side of a hill, with little sunshine during the winter and not enough in the summer so I have to take advantage of every bit of sun I can get and basically grow cool weather veggies.

His house is on the south side of the Lion's Head Rock and his gardening season starts at least two weeks before town, and two weeks after, and longer hours of sun.  The yard is flat, lovely trees on the  neighbours' properties, but  not a flower or veggie plot to be seen on his land. Just beautifully mowed grass, and more grass.

My mind filled with the vision of a couple of dozen SFG beds full of veggies and flowers and a lovely sitting area like some of our members have.

My friend's friend has absolutely no interest in anything I am interested in so that rules him out for me. lol.  In addition he likes everything just so neat I could never live up to it.

I must just go back to being happy with what I have.  Sigh!

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Re: It breaks my heart

Post  llama momma on 10/24/2013, 3:01 pm

Ok then,  now you just snap out of this my friend, Very Happy and just like you said be happy with what you have.  I have a neighbor around the corner from me with the same kind of yard not one flower or bush, large flat lawnspace with one tree and always perfectly mowed grass.  It is so perfectly neat I say it looks rather fake.  Everytime we drove past this house my daughter would comment, it's got to be a crackhouse! and What's wrong with those people?  Funny what beauty means to different people.  Also, here it is oct 24th and I just picked my first real lettuce of 2013 cause I did my lettuce planting mostly wrong in the spring.  Sounds like you probaby had all the lettuce you wanted and my dear, that's what I wanted Razz
llama momma

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Re: It breaks my heart

Post  Marc Iverson on 10/24/2013, 3:30 pm

I know how you feel, at least somewhat, and you have my sympathies as well as empathy.

Gardens in the front yard are a no-go, the side yards are all blocked by many layers of tall trees, and the backyard is tiny, smack up against a hill really close to the house, and mostly covered with gravel for the dogs to go pee on. There's virtually nowhere to grow. I keep one pot on the side of the house and about a dozen in an unused dog run out back. Trees block most of that so I'm lucky to get five hours of direct sun during the longest part of summer. (Nevertheless, I have been blessed by massive numbers of cucumber beetles, oh joy!) This is the only place I can use Mel's Mix.

I do most of my gardening in the side yard of a generous neighbor, now 85 and too arthritic to garden anymore. Too much of his garden is shaded by big trees, but he does have a lot of it. Plenty of raised beds. They aren't fenced well and there is no hardware cloth on the bottom to keep out gophers and moles. The soil is indifferent at best and even has rocks in it; he must have just piled some native soil into his beds when building them. Native soil around here is not great. The wood is starting to rot. There seems to be hardly any pest or disease he doesn't have, except that ... his place has almost no cucumber beetles. Hooray! Meet you for cucumbers over at his place, come next year.

I don't feel comfortable replacing the soil in his beds with MM though. Doing so would be an expensive improvement I can't afford at this time, and to property that I don't even own and that could be taken back on any of the sort of whims people (or their relatives and hangers-on) occasionally have. He's also of the age and condition that it is uncertain how long he might be around and therefore in possession or control of his home. I'm realistic about this because my father was in far better health than he is and recently died at just a few years older, with hardly a week or two of warning that he was even sick. Any significant investment on my part in his gardens would be taking gambles I can't afford and that seem to me unwise.

So my options are limited, and it's not possible for me to garden the way I like. But that doesn't mean it's not possible for me to garden! If I have to make do with poor soil I can't change in rotting beds in an unprotected, half-shaded area, pest-prone area ... well, at least I can still garden. And I'm lucky to have that space at all. If both at home and in my neighbor's garden I don't have all the sun I'd like, at least I've got some of it. I wish things were better, but that's almost always the case no matter where you are in life or what your resources. Something really great is always just out of reach.

Sometimes that gets to feeling like a pattern. That happens most when I start taking for granted the things and opportunities I do have. There will always be limitations, but there are so many of them that I am not burdened with, and I can't forget the share of little joys that I do manage to get. My shady garden area back home? Planted up with my first try at winter veggies and I'm excited! The crummy soil in my neighbor's beds? It's going to get covered up by free horse poop another neighbor has, to rot over the winter and make the beds much better next spring. I look forward to a much better summer garden next year.

These trees all around, shading everything? I'd still like to chop 'em down. At least a handful or two. But hey, what are ya gonna do? Against the community rules. Still, they're beautiful. And they keep the house cooler in summer. Sometimes I'll sit outside in the shade in summer and listen to the wind surge and chatter through the leaves and branches like a thousand years of nature all talking at once. I do love the local gossip.

Marc Iverson

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Re: It breaks my heart

Post  Kelejan on 10/24/2013, 8:48 pm

LMM and Marc:
Such thoughtful replies.  I really do count the blessings I receive living where I do.
But I feel sorry for my friend's friend that he does not appreciate the pleasure of growing things.

In the summer months I would not be anywhere else as I always have shade that I can move under when it is in the 90sF, or in the cooler months move around to find the sunshine. Meanwhile, elsewhere in town, the air conditioning has to run all the time, and it is agony parking the car and then returning to it as it is an oven and I cannot take my little dog with me as of course dogs are not welcome in most establishments and there is just no shade.

Although I am not able to garden year-round, I love the anticipation on midwinter's day when spring nears and one can get one's hand in the dirt and plant seeds etc.  Even though I had tomatoes for the first year, the crop was not bountiful but there is always the farmers market. But plenty of lettuce, chard, kale, runner beans, garlic, and so much more. Oh, and strawberries, enough to freeze this year. I was able to dehydrate many of the greens and they reconstitute beautfully for soups and stir-fries. Now I am starting sunflower sprouts that are easy to grow, that will keep me in fresh greenstuff at a very inexpensive cost. I will also try other sprouts for variety. And I have saved some seeds this year, looking forward to see how they do next year.

My indoor Worm Hilton is going great guns and I recently doubled my capacity. I think I have harvested about 4 times x 6 pounds since I started.  

One of the best things is discovering this SFG guestbook. I wouln't be without it.

I hope I did not come across as being too whiney? Honestly, it was only for a moment. Very Happy

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Re: It breaks my heart

Post  Marc Iverson on 10/24/2013, 9:29 pm

Nothing wrong with being a human being, in my book. I suspect we all might be. Glad you've had some successes on your own scale. Raising redworms and dehydrating are things I'd love to get into myself, but all in good time. I can only bite into my budget so far before it starts to bite back.

My garden and I are of opposite minds. It wants sun and I adore shade. I grew up in the tropics and lived in some hot places with no air conditioning throughout my adulthood, and I've had enough heat and humidity to last me forever. My garden doesn't want to hear about it. More sun! Oh well. What's good one way is often what's bad another, and vice-versa. I can take consolation in the heat I don't like being good for my plants, and that when it's too cold for my plants, that's when I'm feeling pretty good. Can't have everything, I suppose. Especially at the same time! But usually there's at least a little something.

Good for you on getting into eating sprouts. I'm going to presoak some tonight and get going again on that. I have a bunch of sprouting containers, self-made and a store-bought one, and some seeds that are getting a little old. But sprouts really can be delicious and they're pretty easy to grow. If you can grow them from sunflower seeds, most of the rest of them will be very easy by comparison. I especially like broccoli sprouts.

Re your friend not appreciating growing, that's a shame. I think my neighbors must be crazy for having horses, but they probably think I'm crazy for not having one. Too bad he won't let you do a bit of gardening in his yard. The nation has become addicted to lawns. I never used to think so, but now that I'm into gardening, wanting a nice featureless lawn seems more and more peculiar. But that's the model of a beautiful home that most of the people of my generation were raised with, and it may take a long time for the majority of people to think any other kind of yard is worth having.
Marc Iverson

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