Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Plots and Plans

As usual, it is nearing mid-January and I am ready to be done with winter.  Yesterday, by some weather fluke, was in the mid-fifties and sunny.  I was driven to do something outdoors, but it is too soon to prune, the weather has been too wet to haul manure, it is too early and wet to dig...so I decided to yank out the honeysuckle that is smothering the azaleas. The honeysuckle really stands out with its evergreen leaves, so I set to it with the chickens at my sides eager to see what I was scratching up for them.

I pulled runners along the front, I crawled underneath the branches into a tunnel that has been maintained by children over the years, to reach what I call the mother nodes.  The mother nodes are the spots where the roots thicken and shoot out a zillion vines, usually what happens is I find it deep under the branches and tug with all of my weight and force until it gives and I suddenly find myself  under the bush in an undignified position.  I found a few, I know there are more.  The vines start in one spot and then travel 15-20 feet under the leaves and azalea branches to where they appear and start to climb and strangle its host.  There were vines criss-crossing the entire surface of the ground under those bushes.  I started thinking about chaos theory and all its applications as doing this.  I'd be on the north side of the bushes, tug on a vine and leaves on the southeast would bounce up and down with every tug.  The vine would also pull up several of the other vines that were above it in the tangle, popping them off their connection with their roots, which is why I am sure I missed some of the mother nodes.
Azaleas without honeysuckle vines. Yay!

A pile of honeysuckle vines

The entire process took about three hours.  I worked up a good sweat, felt the sun on my skin and now the azaleas can grow without being smothered and strangled.  It will take two or three more of these sessions to really beat the honeysuckle back, each one will be slightly easier than the one before.  I feel like I accomplished something!  It is sad that I really love honeysuckle, but it is so invasive that to have it I would have to sacrifice everything else.

 Before all the snow and cold there was one other somewhat mild day (sun was out, but it was in the thirties) when I hauled the stashed cardboard out of the garage and then made three trips to the horse farm to cover it, it needs one more manure load to be finished.  It will extend my sunny front garden another 10 feet or so. By my calculations, I have about 12-16 trips to the horse farm to complete before mid-April.
Front garden with manure and cardboard.
I'm hoping to minimize my use of the shady back garden this year, the front three or four feet get enough sun, but the sixteen feet behind that isn't all that great for vegetables.  I have a big bag of "Flowers for Shade" seed that I will try back there.

Roses will grow up this post.
I'm already looking forward to spring, plotting and planning what else to put in. In addition to the Kyung San Ban Si persimmon tree, two Chickasaw plums (Prunus Angustifolia, a native species) and three beach plums (Prunus Maritima) that I received from my husband for Christmas, we ordered more plants with a gift card. I will now need to plant two more tart cherry trees (pie cherries), some sand cherries (native species bushes) which will soon be our shrubs (we'll sell the boxwood and thuja on craigslist), everbearing strawberries, three Consort black currants, Joseph's Coat climbing roses for the front porch, seed potatoes  both Yukon Gold and Fingerling banana, and then horseradish.  Anyone available to come dig in late March or early April will be welcomed!
Consort Black Currant
Consort Black Currants
Joseph's Coat Rose

Chickasaw Plum
Kyung San Ban Si Persimmon

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