Sunday, September 24, 2006

Weeds and Life

I'm a weed puller, myself. I know I have a gallon container of Roundup hanging around here somewhere, but I haven't even pulled it out for years now. My yard is almost entirely chemical-free, which not only saves me a lot of money I don't have, it keeps me a lot healthier. I'm allergic to almost all that stuff. Mine is a yard for hypersensitives.

I think it keeps my plants healthier, too.

I do have to remember that those weeds have been providing some shade and a sort of green mulch in certain areas. After a big-time rainy season weeding job, some odd things can happen out there.

A few months ago, at the beginning of the rainy season, I splurged. I bought something I used to use back in my disposable cash days, and will try to keep up with now: corn gluten. About $50 worth covers my whole yard. Twice a year is good. What it does is, it prevents weeds from growing in the first place. The seeds germinate, then they die. It's not 100% perfect, especially until after the second application, but it's really great. I only have about 20% of the weeds I would have without that stuff. At this time of year it's seriously noticeable.

Two other ways I do weed control are that I have absolutely no grass, and I mulch heavily with pine bark nuggets. Where I have weeds right now is mostly where I didn't use the corn gluten or the pine bark.

Lucky for me, I actually like pulling weeds. It's sit-down work, which is always a requirement. Plus I get to see lots of great bugs and snakes and lizards that way. And find old pennies and stuff in the dirt. Artifacts.

Not to mention, the pure joy of feeling all the abundant life around me. Birds everywhere, even a pair of beautiful rare and shy orioles. Anywhere I sit I'm surrounded by plants I've rescued or grown from cuttings, by the incredible lush growth and happiness of healthy nature we get out here. Or that we can get if we pay just a little attention to its realities, and give it love and nurturance instead of battling it.

What I'm pulling down today is mostly these vines we get called bitter gourd, they smell funny and make bright orange little gourds. The glorybower on the east back fence takes over pretty quick too, and it's a beast. A lot of cutting, and a lot of getting scratched by it. With the right tools, it goes fast. Around a half-hour's work gets it back where I want it, a couple times per year. Less time than most people use to mow their grass that I don't have.

It brings scads of butterflies, and its luxurious growth covers my collection of empty pots and other nursery supplies. Keeps it from looking junky out there. When that glorybower grows too lush, I get lots of new stuff for the compost heap.

Last time I plundered the compost heap there was about 500 gallons of the richest, finest, most beautiful black gold you ever saw. It feels almost like peat moss in your hands. Like velvet. You gardeners out there know what I'm talking about. Grabbing a handful of this stuff is like holding a little piece of gardening heaven. Oh, it smells of earth and Mother Nature and plant food and life and goodness.

It's too rich to use straight up; a good mix is 50% - 67% compost mixed into our yard sand. I used it so much on the plant rescues, I'm almost out! I think there's around 30 gallons left. Ha! Running out of important dirt once again, story of my life.

I spend virtually no money on any of these activities. I do have some tools, and I tend to beat them up and have to replace them. I buy corn gluten, Spray-n-Grow micronutrients together with this liquid fertilizer they sell, and rarely some magnesium, palm food fertilizer, and iron chelate. A little chain saw oil as a hurricane prep. I spend around $200/year for everything I use. Say another $100 average for what plants and seeds are actually purchased.

But that's about it. No machines except an electric chainsaw, so no gas, no repairs. All my containers are free, the beautiful wood to grow epiphytes on, the compost, the plant pots (plastic or fancy ceramic ones), stakes, yard art, the plants themselves...Even the wire and such to attach orchids to the wood, or to hang the wood when I'm done? All that is almost always free for me.

Which is good, because I have less than zero money. Also good because I can't help getting a real kick out of Free Stuff. I'm one of those ultimate recyclers. Garbage picker? Naw. This comes from people giving me things they *hate to throw away,* or from our tidy debris piles waiting for The Claw after the hurricane, or on Bulk Pickup Day once a month. I'm rescuing things from their ultimate doom: being designated as Useless, and sent to a nasty grave at Mt. Trashmore.

Instead, they come home with me, where I bring them back to life.


Aspergantus said...

ks - I think its wonderful what you are able to do with the rescued things from our hurricanes. There is too much reusable resources lost by the claw.
Good Job! And thanks for taking a moment to stop by my blog. Very nice comments. Thank you.

k said...

oh, thank YOU! heh heh.

Always nice to see another Floridian around. Would you be in the mid-central Flordia area, by any chance?

Desert Cat said...

You are the consummate gatherer of those bits and pieces of the perfect.

pepektheassassin said...

This makes me want to go right out and pull weeds, and look for great bugs, and smell the earth. But, gosh. It's dark, and I'm tired.

And there's tomorrow....

pepektheassassin said...

I hope you and kmom are having a great visit, and while it's good to have good company, it's great to have Tuesday to look forward to!

Thanks for dropping by. I like to hear from you!

pepektheassassin said...

I just visited your new friend aspergantus. What a treat!

Granny J said...

There's an on-line outfit called FreeCycle that's a source for all kinds of goodies -- plus a great way to get rid of precious clutter. My 15-year collection of Science News, for example, wound up at a private school on the Navajo Rez. I'm still waiting for the link to your hurricane chasing posts, but your approach to weeding is also after my own heart.

k said...

DC, that is one of the finest compliments anyone's ever given me. I feel this odd combination of happiness and humbleness and bashfulness...Thank you.

k said...

heh heh! Miss Assassin, weed pulling can be one of those things that's more fun to read about than to do, your own self.

kmom stopped by for a visit and a *stuff swap.* But our family is a little unusual in that department. We value privacy to an extreme. Often enough, when visiting each other's towns, we don't even mention to the other family member(s) that we're there.

I was well grown up before I realized how uncommon this is.

But here I have my Walter now, and gee, um, not posting so much!...

It must have been hard to leave young Rhys behind. Still, I am SO glad you're back! That Aspergantus is a treat, ain't he? Good stories.

k said...

Granny J, I hope you'll forgive me for this, but I've been walking around in this allergic stupor and my brain took advantage of that to misplace what I wanted to do with those hurricane posts. It was a very mildly complicated linky thing that any normal person could do, but sends a phobe like me running off screaming into the sunset.

However! My guy Walter is a fine geek and even better 'phobe hand-holder. So I think you'll see something soon, now.

I had an idea you'd understand that week thing, there.

Nancy said...

I like weeding too, I just have to lay down to do it. I suspect it looks a bit odd when I do it in the front yard, but hey, everyone needs a crazy neighbor.

Looks like I'll be getting that scooter for free K. It's official. AH is a permenent type gimp and retired.

k said...

I saw your post last night. It got me thinking, took me back in time. So you may see some posts about all this stuff pretty soon. I'm just slow still.

In some ways this is the worst part. Shock. In others, it can be a relief. The unknown aspects are suddenly much clearer. You can plan and see where you're going.

Email me any time, okay? Use my blog gmail though, The AOL one's probably down for good.

k said...

argh! weed thing not week thing!

Wonder Woman said...

Ewww, weeding?

I HATE growing, harvesting, farming, planting, etc...

I'm very fortunate living today, whereas all my nutrient needs are met at my local grocery department!


Desert Cat said...

At least until TEOTWAWKI...

...never mind me--I'm just a random loon.

k said...

Wonder Woman, I understand perfectly. The things I love are not for everyone - and vice versa.

We're lucky in lots of modern ways, but there are drawbacks to that too. My own nutritional needs aren't met by my local grocers. Can't get produce fresh enough, or clean enough, and I get unfortunate health issues because of it. So between that, and the therapy and exercise value of my gardening, I've got an activity of great value.

For ME. For others? It would be a hardship, and I tell 'em, --Don't do it! Life's too short, go do something you really enjoy instead.

Pops, we all must do what we feel makes us safe, right? You ain't no loon, boy. I may conclude a different threat assessment than you, and I may have a different approach to dealing with the threats I do see. But that doesn't make either one of us right or wrong - even if time *proves* certain facts.

My conscious and considered decision to live as I do is what makes me feel best, but just like for Wonder Woman, it's not for everyone.

KeesKennis said...

I got here from Guyk, you write beautiful and the calmness shows thru, I will certainly visit more.
That thing with family and liking privacy is something that my family also does very well.

k said...

keeskennis, I'm honored. I'm among the very first visitors over at your place, through Acidman perhaps? If I remember right, your very first post hadn't even fallen off the bottom of the page yet.

I loved watching you learn how to blog, being a phobe myself. And the pix you get out there, God above!

I got jealous of your fabulous animals and actually sour-graped on you for a bit, I'm ashamed to say. But I think I can handle it now. ;-)

I'm so very glad you like it here. Come back any time!

Livey said...

k, either put up a paypal button or send me your address. I wanna send you a couple of bucks. And don't argue with me on this woman, you know I'll win! Love ya.

k said...

Livey, NO. You can't even buy gas for your heating right now and it's SNOWING up there. Absolutely not.

Okay. You wanna win? I'll make a deal with you. One of these days I'll get my act together and do it like Bane has it - a wish list. I'll have stuff like different seeds on it that I want to buy. And a *bandaid* list - my MRSA bandaging needs KILL my budget and my Medicare HMO won't pay. You'll have a nice selection of *fun* things and *important medical things* and so forth to choose from.

Best of all, you can do it at a time when your house is NOT COLD.