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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Gardener's Diary Archive: It's been a quiet week in the outdoors, April 27, 2015

The sun is out after three really down, dreary days. The temp was in the 40s; it was drizzly and dark and as much as I tried to put on my best Pacific Northwest face, there is a reason I left after 28 years.

The Dandelion War has entered a new phase. Last week I called in mechanized backup: the lawnmower. Today I only had to behead 45 of the little nuisances.

Four of the six potato starts I planted have begun to sprout leaves, and two of four garlic cloves. Other experiments are less promising; two are complete fails. I stuck some ivy and some thrift in pots to see how they'd do, and they didn't. The thrift I probably moved too early; as for the ivy- well, there's more on the lot next door, and at least I have disproved its myth of invincibility in all places and situations.

Two species of salamanders have begun showing up around the house. One- a brownish type I haven't identified yet, likes sunning on the back deck in the afternoon. The other- a brilliant blue-tailed skink- makes the rounds here and there about the heat pump in the back. They are furtive creatures, always looking- and succeeding- to go to ground whenever I come near.

Not so the contestants in the War of My Front Yard. It's nesting season and a full-grown turf battle has broken out between the long-resident robin and a newcomer, the northern mockingbird. The latter started singing about two weeks ago, and hanging out next door. But now, this avian Putin has annexed half my front yard as its Crimea, and chases off the robin every time he makes an appearance. These conflicts and noisy and prolonged. One of the squirrels out front- already traumatized by that day in March when the red-tailed hawk swooped down and invited a cousin to lunch- has gotten dive-bombed several times as well.

Today I got out and raked the remainder of my next-door neighbor's yard, clearing the thatch from a long-overdue mow last week. Her yard man apparently follows the Wimpy model of service provision: "I will gladly mow your lawn some day, for a down payment on deposit today." So we tackled it for her, and got ten barrow-loads of grass for the compost piles. Mother Compost, the first pile, now eight months along, is breaking down very well indeed. The Twiggery pile, a 12 foot long, two foot tall run on the far side of a run of fallen tree branches I break up and stack for winter kindling, is due for its first turn after six months of slowly compressing. And The Great Wall of Compost, built to screen off the results of my neighbor's belief that there is no need to carry junk off to the landfill when he can pile it behind his storage shed and make it invisible. To him. It's now about five feet tall and twenty long at the height of the canker worm parachute drop from the willow oak above the pile, so many happy little canker worms found themselves in leaf pile Eden, you could hear them chomping away: they made the pile sound like a bowl of rice crispies after the milk is added.

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