Outdoor jobs a growing ‘to-do’ list


“They know, they just know where to grow, how to dupe you, and how to camouflage themselves among the perfectly respectable plants, they just know, and therefore, I’ve concluded weeds must have brains.”  —Dianne Benson, “Dirt,” 1994

I’ve been looking for an excuse to clean my patio. I haven’t exactly over-exerted myself looking, but I’ve browsed. My new (used) patio furniture gave a little boost, but the spark didn’t last.

It’s reasonable to assume a new patio set would lead to the desire to barbecue more, resulting in more meals around the patio set. And if you go through all that trouble, you sure won’t want to stare at an overgrown garden or terra cotta pots full of dried out flowers. This in itself should bring on the motivation to tidy up the place.

But no, it didn’t. Barbecuing was fine, but I just found myself sitting on the chair that faced the garage so I didn’t have to be reminded of the forest growing behind me.

But what about flowers? Surely spending a bunch of money on flowers I’ve never heard of, big bags of plant soil and new planters to put it all in would motivate me to pull out those yellow gardening gloves and conquer those weeds! This was last spring. I bought some really cool plants I still don’t know the names of.

They even grew. They grew and they grew. Until they died.

They’re still dead. And there they remain in their planters. I think I may be grieving and just can’t face the finality of my loss.

And I blew the biggest reason I had to keep my patio overflowing with lush greenery and floral masterpieces—my grand plan for a salsa garden!

This plan really got me going at the beginning of summer. I would grow salsa one ingredient at a time. What could be more satisfying that that?

Unfortunately, my Mother’s Day gift certificate didn’t stretch quite as far as I hoped once I got to the Garden Center. I decided why risk messing up every single ingredient I would need?

I convinced myself to start smaller and focus on tomatoes and hot peppers. So I asked the local expert for the best plant choices for an amateur who doesn’t actually like tomatoes and could take or leave hot peppers. (In salsa—they’re great, but as far as picking one over the other, I’m clueless.)

She pointed me in the right direction for my small containers and away I went with an armful of starter plants and a bonus pack of ornamental sweet potato plants.

For the rest of Mother’s Day weekend I pretended to know what I was doing, burying all those little plants in one container after another, throwing in some soil and christening their new homes with a quiet “please don’t die” request.

Long story short, they didn’t die. They even managed to bare some fruit. I’ve had a handful of little red tomatoes and several handfuls of hot peppers. What I didn’t do is…well, anything.

So far, I’ve given exactly one whole pepper away and put the rest in a bowl so I could admire my handiwork. I’ve thrown out at least two bowls of those things.

I know, what a waste. Why don’t I do something with them? What happened to my big salsa plan? I don’t know. I guess I was so proud of actually growing these things that in the end, that was enough.

Or is it just easier to buy a jar of salsa?

I still have peppers coming up and there are at least three tomatoes that turned red after this last big rain. So, there’s still hope on the salsa front.

None of these new attempts at gardening and plant rearing were enough to get me out on that patio to pull weeds, trim the bushes or add some new mulch.

All summer, I just closed my eyes as I walked from my back door to the car door, day after day, night after night. I was ashamed of my complete lack of landscaping effort. It seems like just getting the lid put back on the sandbox was a good yard-work day.

All in all, I did manage to keep some flowers alive in containers, added an awesome new bench to my patio, and grew some ornamental sweet potato plants. (This stuff is amazing…I highly recommend it to the gardening-challenged. It seriously grows itself.)

But now, as fall heads in, I have a new reason to pretend to be motivated to keep up with the weeds. A new bird waterer-thing. (official name yet to be determined) designed by my brother-in-law, it’s the most unique three-tier hanging water holder ever seen but sadly looks out of place hanging over a jungle floor.

The birds are probably too afraid to fly near it anyway—they know some kind of predator is probably crouched in the thick overgrown brush below it.

But not for long! I’m going to start pulling weeds tomorrow.

Unless the sand box lid has blown off. I should take care of that first.


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