• Tag Archives mulch
  • Sunday, Sunday

    Mid-Summer                                                                            Full Honey Flow Moon

    More fun with the alarm system.  Back and forth with ADT.  On the phone, pushing buttons.  Still the chirping.  Service call.

    Business meeting.  Scheduling a Denver trip for sometime in September.  Looking at buying some more mulch for the vegetable garden.

    Practice tai-chi.  Sand and varnish for coat number three six honey supers.  They need to go on tomorrow morning.  Mark put foundations in the frames today, so we’re ready to go.

    Out to tai-chi.  I’m still the slow student in class, but I’m learning.  Slowly.  A challenge for this guy to connect body and mind, but a challenge worth keeping after.

  • An Old Cannabis Farm, Right?

    Beltane                                                Waxing Last Frost Moon

    A long, 3 hour, nap, perfect for a gloomy, chill spring afternoon.  Then off to the grocery store.  With Mark here there are items on the list peculiar to him like Raisin Bran, lots of bread, more fish than usual (a good thing) and a greater quantity of fruit.

    The same kid from Anoka/Ramsey Garden came with the pocket sized dump truck, navigated it through our gate and dumped the load right in front of the orchard, saving several steps with a heavy wheelbarrow.  He remembered our place, “An old cannabis farm, right? Not as much up now.”

    Yep, during WWII the government wanted more rope so hemp farms were common in Anoka county.  The weed grows everywhere, will get 8-9 feet tall if allowed to mature and has a stem at maturity that is so thick a machete takes two or three whacks to bring it down. It laughs at weed whips.  And, no, its THC content is too low to be any good.  It made rope, not laughing teen-agers and college students.

    True story.  When we first moved up here to Andover, back in 1994, we were the only house in the development.  A white car pulled up on 153rd about two hundred feet from our house and two young kids popped the trunk and hopped out.  They busily pulled hemp plants from the lot across from us and threw them in the car, not even bothering to shake the soil off the roots.   Someone, we think it was the developer, Harvey Kadlec, called the police.

    When they arrived, the kids were still at work.  Oops.  The police impounded the car and gave the kids a lift back to the Anoka County Jail.

    Kate always tells this on me, so I’ll just go ahead.  I had laced several hemp plants through our chain link fence, reveling in the fact that the forbidden weed grew wild on our property, a sort of dream lot for a sixties kid.  When the police came, I went out through our back garage door and pulled the plants out of the fence.  Can’t be too careful in these circumstances.

  • Chainsaw and Snowblower. Watch out.

    Samhain                                                  Waxing Moon of the Winter Solstice

    An inside day today.  Tomorrow outside.  A little bit of chainsaw action on trees broken by the early wet snow in November.  Some snowblower work on the sidewalk, clearing a wider path to the front door.

    I also have some mulch to lay down.  A bit late, not for mulching, but for the mulch which is in garden bags on our patio.  Frozen I imagine.  I might have to take a sledge hammer to it.

    Maybe some soup making if I have any energy left in the afternoon.

    The oldest cousin on my mother’s side, Ikey, has entered a nursing home for what sounds like hospice care.  He was the oldest son of Uncle Ike and Aunt Marjorie, my mom’s oldest sister.  When the sickle begins to bite into the generation of my family to which I belong, it has a frisson not there when my mother’s generation died off and eventually out.  I was never close to Ikey, but to most of the rest of my cousins I have relationships nurtured by at least every two year visits.  They’re mostly in Indiana, where I was raised.  A note for Ike, for peace and calm.

  • An Aging Bull Moose

    Lughnasa                                    Waning Artemis Moon

    Easton and Ray, both soon to be seniors at Andover High, worked this morning, moving wood chips, laying them down on the paths Kate and I cleared of weeds yesterday.  Both fit and energetic they kept at it, moving 9 cubic yards of wood chips with a wheel barrow.  That’s minus the maybe one cubic yard I moved to mulch some parts of the further away vegetable patch.  The orchard looks great and completes a job started by Kate a few weeks ago, one she saw through to a beautiful conclusion.  The orchard looks its best ever.  Right after Ecological Gardens finished the installation now 3 years ago, it looked pretty good, but the trees were small and the  plants in the guilds around them were also young.  Now the trees have begun to bear fruit, the guild plants have matured and the place looks like a real orchard.  Pictures tomorrow.

    Working alongside the boys made me oddly competitive.  I wanted them to see me as an old man who could really work.  Not quite sure where this came from but it felt like the aging bull moose in the presence of young, high testosterone males.  Instinctive rather than even subconscious.  It passed, though.

    Now, after a day and a half of physical labor, I’m weary, in need of a nap.

  • Clearing the Paths

    Lughnasa                                  Full Artemis Moon

    Kate and I yanked up the carpet under the mulched paths in our orchard, cleaned it off and re-laid it after putting weed seed germination preventer and round-up on the green vegetation in the paths.  These are the only chemicals, with the exception of cygon on my iris, that I use in the garden.  No fertilizers, on pesticides and only these rare instances of herbicide use.  I also use herbicide to kill poison ivy and to prevent stumps from re-growing.  That’s it.

    After clearing two paths out of four we went out for lunch, now the nap.  We need to clear one more path and we’ll be ready for the mulch tomorrow.  The other path, along the fence with the wild grapes has not had near as much weedy growth, so it can just take mulch as is.

  • That Mosque

    Lughnasa                                          Full Artemis Moon

    Today the orchard, tomorrow…the vegetable patch and the orchard.  Kate and I will take up the carpet laid down for paths in the orchard (it keeps weeds down and mulch gets distributed over it), clean out the weeds that have infiltrated, lay the carpet back down and add any to spots that need it, preparing the whole for the wood chips delivered yesterday morning.  Tomorrow Kate will guide Ray, our lawn mowing Andover junior, while he covers the paths with wood chips.  Meanwhile I’ll mulch the areas in the vegetable garden that Kate and I cleared out over the last week.

    Over the weekend we’ll put the honey extractor together  and try it out in advance of our first full day of honey extraction on Monday.  This should be entertaining.  Mark has shrunk our Artemis label by a third and modified the glasses based on his realization last Monday that the specs he’d designed didn’t quite match mine.  I already have the PDF from him with the new design and smaller labels.  He’s a pro.

    OK.  I understand that some people on the right believe the mosque near the old World Trade Center is offensive.  They feel it pokes a finger in the eye of the whole country and especially those who lost relatives on 9/11.  Their line is, “Just because you have the right, doesn’t make it right.”  True enough.  Doesn’t make it wrong, either.  So the question comes to down message.  What message will a mosque near the ground zero send?

    Will it communicate rank insensitivity and disregard for injured feelings?  Will it intentionally stir the pot of an already angry public?  Or.  Will it communicate, as I said before, that we know the difference between terrorists who use Islam as an ideological justification and those for whom Islam is a religion of moderation and peace?  Will it show that our First Amendment freedoms, those that developed in light of religious persecution in Europe, persecutions that, ironically, sent the first settlers to Massachusetts, apply today as they have for over 200 years?  I know which message I want to send.

    Now, having said that, is there a way to ameliorate the inflamed feelings of those who have been led to see this as a provocation, an insult?  I don’t know, but I would hope there is.  Next year will see the tenth anniversary of the World Trade Center disaster, so some concern probably focuses on this upcoming date.  I wish there was a way to sit down and discuss this, acknowledging the feelings of betrayal, anger, incredulity, fear, grief, sharing our mutual dismay at the act and the struggle with the terrorists since then, while allowing the Muslims for whom this was an equal disaster and one compounded by rejection and xenophobic reactions to open up their feelings.

    Or, is the gulf between the right and the left so vast that there is no bridge?  Are we so far apart in our partisan camps that dialogue is no longer possible?  If it’s true, and there are times over the last decade when I’ve felt it was, then our country will have succumbed to the terrorists after all because, as Abraham Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

    I’m not trying to get to a kum by ya moment here.  I would relish, though, genuine conversation between citizens of differing views.  How can it happen?

    Here’s an excerpt from a CBS report that gets to where I’d like to go:

    Society|Thu, Aug. 26 2010 07:59 AM EDT
    Some 9/11 Families Show Support for Mosque Near Ground Zero
    By Nathan Black|Christian Post Reporter

    A group of religious and civil rights groups and family members of 9/11 victims announced on Wednesday the formation of a new coalition in support of an Islamic community center and mosque near ground zero.

    Calling themselves the New York Neighbors for American Values, the coalition stood near City Hall in lower Manhattan defending religious freedom and diversity.

    “We share the pain … and yes, even the lingering fear caused by the September 11 attacks. But we unequivocally reject the political posturing, the fear mongering and the crude stereotyping that seek to demonize the project whose goal is to build bridges among the faiths,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

    “We are committed to resisting the efforts to push Park51 out of downtown and we reject the refrain of ‘freedom of religion but not in my backyard,'” she added.

    Talat Hamdani lost a 23-year-old son, a paramedic, in the 2001 terrorist attacks. But she said supporting the Islamic center and mosque “has nothing to do with religion. It has to do with standing up for our human rights, including freedom of religion,” as reported by The Associated Press.

  • Ray

    Summer                                    Waxing Grandchildren Moon

    Ray, the Andover High School junior who mows our yard, came over today and we moved the shredded bark into its home on the beds and walkways of the vegetable garden.  He’s 15 or 16.  I’m not.  Nap time will be important today.

    We discussed his swimming.  He swims for the Andover High School team.  “Is the Andover team any good?”  “Well, it’s a young program.  Not like Anoka’s.”  He admires Michael Phelps and has that swimmer body with the developed upper chest and broad shoulders.  He came here from swimming.  5 days a week during the summer, 6 during the school year.  Dedicated.

    We found him courtesy of a copied flier he put in our mail-box.  It was good timing since Kate, our mower, had hip surgery scheduled in June.  Ray also does other yard work, like helping me re-mulch the vegetable gardens.  He works hard, thinks ahead and is generally pleasant.  A testament to his kind.  The teen-age boy kind.

    The Herd rumbles into Andover around 6 or so.  Kate’s worked hard to get the food ready.  She also did a lot of weeding over the week-end.  It’s nice to have her home and I’ll be glad when she retires in January.

  • A Snap. No, Really.

    Summer                                             Waxing Grandchildren Moon

    Started the morning with my favorite kind of work, mechanical.  Question:  how to get the mower deck off the lawn tractor.  It is, I recall the salesman saying 14 years ago, “A snap.”  Well, he should have been here.  Nuts and bolts, screws and hammers don’t respond well to my ministrations.  If it can be done the easy way–a snap–and the hard way–my way–guess which I end up pursuing?  Yep.  Same deal with the bagger.  So easy.  Hmmm.  The best that can be said is that, in the end, I figured out that the easy way was also the only way to get them off, but it took a good while to realize that.  Plus some words I wouldn’t use in a polite blog.

    After that, hooking up the new wagon to our 15 year old Simplicity was a snap.  No, really.  One cotter pin, insert bolt through wagon tongue and tractor hitch and away we went to the 5 cubic yards of shredded mulch.  A few pitchfork moves later I was back in the front yard delivering shredded bark to Kate who toiled away in the vineyards (literally) of our long untended front flower patches.

    Much better than the wheel barrow method I’ve used all these years.  I took the weeds back to the woods and put them in their very own pile.  Nice.

    After the nap I’ve spent time recovering wooden steps and slabs from eroded sand, sweeping, piling, that sort of thing.  It’s hot, but not too bad outside.

    All this in service of the upcoming Woolly Mammoth meeting.  We have visitors out here twice a year and this year they came within two weeks of each other.  Great planning on our (my) part.  Well, I shouldn’t say in service of the meeting.  This work really prompts us to do things we’ve neglected over this year and they’ll stay done for a while.  One of the many positive functions of friends.

    More meeting related work later on, too.  Groceries.  Start cooking. (helping Kate) Cleaning furniture.  Those sorts.

  • Mulch

    Summer              Waxing Summer Moon

    The six cubic yard of mulch pile has become several piles of mulch at strategic locations along the paths and beds of last year’s orchard installation.  Now it awaits distribution, looking like debris fields from some recent wooden mountain slide.  Mulch serves many purposes in the garden.  Winter mulch keeps the ground cold during spring’s heaves as the earth thaws and refreezes.  Summer mulch helps in weed suppression, keeps the ground cool to avoid plants getting overheated and helps hold moisture in the soil during hot weather.

    Mulch in the orchard serves mainly to suppress weeds and to give a uniform look to the beds and paths, but it has one important purpose that Paula Westmoreland of Ecological Gardens taught me.  She says the breakdown of wood chips gives a different boost to soil chemistry, one more favorable to perennial plants while straw works better for annual plants like vegetables.  I don’t understand it, but she seemed very confident.

    I drove into Panera’s in Northeast for a meeting with Dan Endreson, outgoing legislative committee chair of the Sierra Club and Margaret Levin, its executive director.  We went over the past patterns of developing agendas for the upcoming legislative session.  Dan made me a disc of all the documents that had been useful for him and the committee over the last four sessions while he’s been active.

    It’s fun to get into a responsible role in an issue area I feel is important and in an aspect of the work that involves politics.  The future looks like lots of meetings, phone calls and work in or around the capitol.

    The kids are on their way back here from a 4th of July spent in Chicago with Jen’s family.  Herschel will be happy to see his family again.

  • Sharpening. Mulching.

    Summer            Waxing Summer Moon

    “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.”- Bertrand Russell

    Hmmm.  I wonder if that’s true?

    Laid down some more straw, weeded a bit in the perennial garden.  After that I went out to the hardware store and bought a diamond file to sharpen my Felcro pruners,  often used garden tools.  A clerk had take me back into the tool aisles.  When asked why they roped them off, she gave me the expected answer, “People have been stealing tools.”  Tough economic times.

    Then over to Anoka Feed and Seed where I ordered 6 cubic yards of shredded wood mulch.  Gotta cover up the netaphim and refresh the mulch all around the orchard.