Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Winterizing the labyrinth

So it finally became time to "winterize" the labyrinth. Somewhat later than usual, since we now have the gallery, and have been dependent on Wednesdays-- our official "day off"-- to be nice enough to work outside.

A few random leaves remain...
Ironically, today was supposed to be rainy, windy and nasty but instead we were served up a nice sunny and breezy day.

I started up outside around 9:00am, wanting to get outside and "get things done," just in case the weather forecast turned out to give us the promised nastiness a little bit late.

There's a fresh dusting of snow on the Olympics, and it was surprisingly "fresh" out there as I started gathering tools for the day's work. Winter is coming-- there is little doubt about that.

The recent winds have pretty much blown all the leaves off our trees-- save for a few tiny clusters here and there-- so the first task at hand was to rake up all the leaves. That quickly turned into quite a pile. I had intended to haul them to the dump with some brush, but decided instead to pile them in the mulch/compost pile... putting a bunch of wet grass on top of them will keep them from blowing away later.

That's about 10 large plastic bins of leaves, covered with heavy wet grass
Truth be known, the leaves were already pretty heavy and wet from the steady rains for a couple of months... and they made quite a mound. I think I probably hauled 9-10 big plastic bins' worth over there.

The labyrinth was a bit rough looking when I started work. Not only had it not had much maintenance done since July, but a mole seems to have taken a liking to it... and a number of small mole hills had to be leveled.

Getting the labyrinth ready for winter is really a three step process.

First, I mow the grass... and quite a few weeds that have taken root. This also gets rid of a few loose leaves.

Second, I weed-whack all the brick lines that create the labyrinth pathways. That was actually a hell of a pain in the butt as I didn't just have to weed-whack, but I often had to stop to scrape piles of soil away, deposited there by the resident mole. Still not sure what (if anything) we are going to do about him.

Daisy has inspected the freshly "shaved" labyrinth and approves
The weed whacking actually took the better part of 1 1/2 hours, and also served as a reminder that I am NOT 29 anymore!

Once weed-whacked, the final step is to run the mower one more time-- with the grass bag-- to pick up all the loose grass and debris. The mower with the grass bag actually works as a nice "picker-upper" and the blade works as a  bit of a turbo fan to blow loose bits off the bricks.

All the heavy wet grass and dirt bits ended up as a heavy layer on top of the previously raked leaves. In a couple of years, it should have cooked down to a nice mulch we can use somewhere else.

I feel pretty relieved to get this done-- almost a month later in the year than in 2015. But better late than never, and since the growing season is now seriously over, hopefully little will have to be done before spring growth starts up again.

There are still lots of things to be done in the yard during the winter season, but this was the most urgent item on the agenda, and I feel happy to have gotten it out of the way.

Sadly, we have very little time to garden these days... other commitments seem to eat up all our daylight hours.

As I walked around, it was nice to see that these purple flowers-- purchased this summer from the "save me, I am almost dead" bin at the local garden center-- doing very well and still blooming. The entire plant has more than doubled in size!

Small victories...

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Longer Days...

Sometimes, it's the little things we notice.

Like sitting at my desk and looking out, and then realizing that I can actually see what's going on, at 5:00pm... where just a month ago, it would pretty much have been pitch black.

There are many things about living here that reminds me of my childhood in Denmark... the weather and the light... and what grows here. Of course, some things-- like the eucalyptus trees-- don't grow in Denmark, at all.

So far, it seems to have been quite a wet winter, which bodes well for the year ahead. After a super dry 2015, I'm at least marginally hopeful that we won't end up with a severe drought situation again. The rain has translated into a lot of snow at higher elevations... which means there are decent water reserves on the ground. At Snoqualmie Pass, the December snowfall was the highest recorded in the 60 years they have been keeping track up there.

As of late, I have been starting to think about the garden again, and about what we might do this coming year. Last year was pretty much a write-off, in part because we had zero funds to sink into gardening, in part because we went to Denmark for 24 days in the middle of the peak growing time (June) so we decided not to do the whole vegetable thing, at all. We did put down some tarps late in the year to keep weeds from growing... not sure how effective that is turning out to be.

The only other "thing" going on out there is waiting to see if the Peony seeds we put in in the fall will turn into "something" when the warmer days of spring arrive. Growing peonies from seed is evidently not the way most people go.

Still contemplating whether or not to undertake the project of starting in on the garden beds.