Friday, August 10, 2018

How not to garden like a dumbfuck 2

Well look at you, all back here and everything, bright eyed and bushy tailed, waiting for me to deliver unto you the esoteric knowledge of the ages, the complicated secrets of encouraging a plant from the soil into the light of day for whatever goddamn reason.

Remember how I told you there are two types of ornamental garden plants.  Now if you're TOS this may or may not apply to, say, Acamarian parthas or quadrotriticale, although if it did, then quadrotriticale would be an annual, and Acmarian parthas would be perennials.  Yes I am that good.  Let's assume that you're not growing fictional plants, though.

Things you will need to know if you want to grow ornamental plants.-
That's what this part is called.  Keep up.

1. You have to learn about your environment.

I don't know what country you are planting your plants in.  Or even what part of your country.  That shit's up to you to figure out.  Now I can oversimplify and tell  you 'Don't grow a saguaro cactus on the slopes of Mt. Everest because it's stupid.'  Cactuses grow in the desert, don't ask me how.  Lichens and moss grow waaaaay up near the top of Mt. Everest, though, with the fungal endophytes and tardigrades (not a plant, but a very, very tiny form of dugong.)  I'm sure other shit grows lower down, but once you get way up there on Mt. Everest, it's pretty much lichen and very very tiny dugongs.  Now lichen, being a diverse bunch of algae and fungus all intermingled in plantal harmony, that shit is adaptable.  It can grow pretty much anywhere, but saguaro cacti cannot.  They only grow in the desert.  That's just the way it is.

Every single plant has it's own particular likes and dislikes.

Muks Gardening Prime Directive:  Do your research.

1.  Your country probably has an agricultural bureau that will tell you what your elevation is, and what kind of soil you have, and when your first and last frost dates are.  They may also tell  you what agricultural zone you live in.  I don't know.  I haven't gone into this because I'm American and I don't have to know anything I don't want to; particularly if it has to do with geography.  But I'd be willing to bet that if you ask around the old people in town, you can find out these very important facts:

Your soil type - sandy, loamy, duff, clay, what have you.  This knowledge tells you about the ability for water, air and roots to move through your dirt.   You have to know this.

Now ask them, or look it up, or fire a flaming arrow with a message attached through the appropriate window, I don't give a fuck, just FIND OUT WHAT YOUR SOIL PH IS.

This is so important it's like the Virgin Mary of gardening knowledge.  That's a Catholic comparison - analogy thing there.*

So.  Know What Your Soil PH is.  What does PH mean?  Look it up.  This information is super vital information.  Soil ph determines what nutrients your plants can pull out of the soil.  It can also be altered without killing the environment as long as you keep your efforts small.

2.  Know what your climactic zone is. (The Holy Spirit of Gardening.  In case you forgot.)  Our standard of measure in the U.S.A  is called the USDA zone, and it's a suggestion at best given the rapidity of climate change. On paper, I rate a zone 7a.  Bullshit!  In actual fact, I'm a zone 6a.  That is a world of difference, although it sounds small.

Your Zone is an arbitrary number given to the information returned from climactic monitoring.   A Zone is an area that has a reliably stable date of first frost,  lowest winter temperature, and highest summer temperature.

That is your fucking USDA ZONE. 

Now, troops:  What is your zone?  All  together:  A Zone is an area that has a reliably stable date of first frost,  lowest winter temperature, and highest summer temperature.

Your version of the USDA is probably trying the best it can to keep up with shit, but they're probably also a government agency.  This is really important information and you need to get it right, so again, you go by the old people in your area, who will know this stuff all the way back to Tutankhamen. Ask.

3. (The Jesus rule.)  Ask your neighbors and keep records of your seasonal temps and weather.  This doesn't need to be anything more than a little notebook.  Don't rely on the USDA. 20 miles down the road from I live, in a small area that is not only protected by surrounding mountains but has a strong geothermal influence, Deming, WA.   It's a straight up zone 8b-7a.  The locals refer to it as 'The Banana Belt'.  Anyfucking thing will grow there, allowing for the natural acidity of the soil.  Acidity of the soil,  you ask?  Look back at SOIL PH, get that straight, and then get back to me. 

Remember Jesus, the friendly hippie dude?  Be like Jesus.  Be friendly.  Ask around.  You see somebody out in their yard with a shovel, stop and talk.  All gardeners are awesome.  Some are unreasonably violent at random moments, but in between those episodes they are very mellow, friendly people willing to help and give you plants and everything.  Until they chase you around with a machete.  They'll apologize afterward.

Muk gardening truism:  The nuttier the person, the better their garden grows.  

This is absolutely true. 100% all the way true.  Crazy fuckers grow incredible plants.  I've seen this so many times it's just stupid.  Take me for example.  I am crazy as a shithouse rat, and I have a garden that people ask for tours through.  Oh yes. Dead serious.

4. OK This is the God The Father level of your garden!!!  This is literally how it all begins.

In the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was 

Would you like to make a nice flower bed? 

Then dig it up and prepare it in the fall before. 


Suggestion:  You could begin a compost heap. (We're still on God the Father, so sit still.  You want to go sit in the baby room with all the little wah wah babies?  No you don't. So quit acting up and be still and pay attention. I mean it.)

Anything made of plants goes into compost heap.  Anything made of meat does not. It's just a pile of old leaves, grass clippings, hedge cuttings, whatever is made out of a plant.  Salad.  Turnips.  Just heap it up and let it rot over winter.  Toss it around like spaghetti a bit with a pitchfork or a shovel a couple of times. Either way, it rots into lovely compost, which is made out of...guess.  No, guess.  OK fine.  Worm shit.  That's called humus.  But it's shit from worms. They do all the work!
And the best part?  It does not smell bad.  It smells sweet, like after it rains.

More Realistic Suggestion:  Get some bagged steer manure from your local big box home center.  Get a bunch.

4.  Now you begin.

Pick out a section of ground, grass and all, and using a garden hose or a rope, line out a nice shape.   Using a garden hose is best.  Make an outline that looks pretty,  and when you get something you like,  turn up turves to mark it -  and then roll up the garden hose and put it away, dump your COMPOST onto that outlined area and  rototill the piss out of it. Cut that organic matter in there!

Now what does this mean, exactly? Imagine a rotary beater working sideways, with knives instead of vanes. That's what a rototiller does, and you get to drive it!  It's cutting all that compost into the dirt and cutting up all the grass and roots and opening up the soil for air to get in, and mixing it all up.  Kickass, huh?  You are whuppin' up on this garden bed situation.

If you use a rototiller, do not wear sandals.  Only Jesus can get away with that.  The man wears a thorn garland, kids; he's cold steel.  You are not.

So. If you have a rototiller, fantastic.  If you can rent one, bitchin'.   If you don't, you can do this with a shovel, pray God you have sandy loam soil, because it's easy to dig.  I have blue clay overlaid with a six inch layer of ancient, pure decomposed plant material and duck crap - an ionic black sediment that is like crack for plants. For that matter, so is the blue clay substrate.  (I live on what was a shallow lake back in the late 1800s.)

Any way you can get that compost in there, and that sod broken up, and that soil aerated, you go for it.  And then?

Leave it lay there for the rest of the winter.     

Let it get rained on and frozen and snowed on and all that winter shit.  Let your soil get good.  It needs to mix around, like stew, wake up those fungus-mushroom-mychorhyzae and relationships and worms and microorganisms and oogy things going oog oog through your soil, and just let them play around and swap spit and poop and so forth all winter long inside that rototilled shape you made. Leave it alone.  All winter long.

5.  Next Spring.  Throw another load of compost on there and scuffle it in with a rake.  This is assuming you have nice loamy soft soil.

(Me?  Oh hell no.  I had to dig  4 ft. deep basins, deal?  Like shallow ponds!  In wet clay!  And I used tarps to pile up all the removed soil on.  I dug out the whole shape, not just a hole here and a hole there.  The whole fuckin' thing.  Multiple beds 4 feet deep, on four city lots.  My arms literally burst the seams of my t-shirts when I flex my biceps from doing this shit.  Am I bad?  I can change your tires without using a jack, baby.  Fear this.

Our awesome little town has it' own compost heap.  They even chip the vegetative debris, which made me skippity happy like a little girl. I went and asked could I raid the pile and they looked at me and fell down and kissed my feet and cried with joy, would I take some?  Take it ALL!  They really said that!  So I took that raw, uncomposted plant material home by the truckload and dumped all this undifferentiated new and old squack from the city compost heap - huge branches, leaves, grass clippings, anything that didn't have striped moon snails in it - into the bottom in an even layer, and then it was built back up in layers.  Soil, then squack, then more soil, then more squack, then more soil.

I was much, much younger then.  Would I do that today FUCK NO. But it worked like a charm.)

So, where were we?  Oh yes, standing outside in the early Springtime, getting rained on, scuffling some finished compost into the top layer of your bed-to-be.  You can buy this stuff, like I said, but I use something different.  I live in farm country. I add what  a farmer down the road supplies me with, for free...a magic substance, aged, composted, light as a feather, easy as pie to work with... called 'Lagoonage'.

Remember this word.  Dairy farmers have it. Cow farmers have it.  They are crying to find someone to take it away because it's a nuisance to them.  They will give it to you.  For FREE. It is...


It's the solids they skim off of liquefied cowshit and pile aside so they can use the plain nastyass shit liquid to spray on their fields and ruin your whole day, nasally.  Cows don't digest everything they eat, and those solids are just about the best thing going to put in your soil, and to put on top of your soil as well.  It has a neutral PH (oh Goddammit, there's that fuckin' scientific term again. Look it up. SUFFER.)   As it degrades over time, it releases a whole complex of different organisms, fungi, microbes and trace minerals into the soil whenever it rains, or you water, or life and time just happen.  It is magic from a cows butthole.

All this rotted  plant material helps to lighten - open up - the soil structure.  There is no soil that cannot benefit from this treatment.  You need to get some actual OXYGEN in there along with the old plant material so that the breakdown and decomp will  continue, and as it does all that decomposing and breaking down it is also releasing lots of different minerals and compounds into the soil, and that makes the little bugly organism wormy dudes happy, and they poop out humus.  Decomposition and breakdown works much better and faster with oxygen, though. It keeps your worms and bugly buddies happy, and the tardigrades rejoicing.  You use your shovel for this, or a rake even.  Just toss in a shovel of lagoonage and scuffle a shovel of dirt over it.  Very good exercise, light and pleasant, and it will give you the pecs of a young god.

There are other things you can use in place of lagoonage, of course.  Some places sell sewage solids, which is not as gross as it sounds although  it's supposed to be high in  heavy metals, like lead and shit.  I don't know.   You can use feedlot manure, chicken shit, maple leaves...good Lord; you're online!  Look up your region!  Go on Daves Garden.Com and look up what other people in your area are using for organic compost!  I'm not your mother!

So assuming you did all this, which is not as hard as it sounds given a rototiller and/or light soil structure...?


Get ready for this one.  Loosen up.  Do some stretches.  No more bourbon on your Captain Crunch.
Using a hand mirror, ensure that you have no catarrh nor any fantods.

I mean it.  This next part is metaphysical!  Gardening is sacred!  This  shit will blow you away if you aren't in tune with the Earth vibration!  NOW  comes the spiritual constituent!  This is where pure mind meets simple soil and the body of Christ digs up old tree roots and pieces of cement!


You got four heavenly important people going on in Catholicism:

a.The Virgin Mary.

 Everybody loves her. No matter what you've up to, She'll just shrug and say "You know what, you be you, baby."  She knows how bad you feel when you do wrong.  She'll give you a hug and a kiss and put a bandaid on your spiritual pain  The Virgin Mary is really, really nice and all kinds of happening.

b. The Holy Spirit.

This is some deep stuff going on.
Nobody quite knows what the Holy Spirit is, but it's important.  They usually show it as a lovely white dove all spread out with sometimes a halo or a circle of glowing rays coming from it.  It's...just important.  It's like what Godliness feels like inside you.  Now, I would have come up with a better analogy that a flying rat, but they did this in the old days.  It is meant to convey a butterfly feeling of joy and love and cosmic union with Universal Godhood and Goodness. 
I told you it was heavy.

c.  Jesus

Now see, even though he's supposed to be the Big Kahuna, the Word made Flesh, God in Man, this is where he lands on the scale of Catholic Importance.

 Here's how to tell if you've partied with Jesus:  He's a white guy, very friendly looking, with long brown hair, a well-kept beard and moustache, and he's wearing a long white nightgown kind of thing with a belt, and sandals.  Like Spock in Star Trek 4:  The Voyage Home. Spock wore a white headband.  But Jesus is Metal as All Get Out.  Jesus wears a wreath made of horrifying thorny vines that jam way into his head with blood coming down all on his face. 
If he's wearing any headgear at all, this is what he prefers. 
Also sometimes he's wearing his heart on the outside of his clothes!  Seriously!  And with fire spouting from the top of his heart, thorny vines all wrapped around his actual heart organ, poked into it and making it bleed.  And he always has this loving, gentle expression on his face while he indicates his bleeding, tore-up outside heart with flames shooting out of the top of it out on the front of his clothes, which you got to admit is quite notably Hardcore Metal As All Get Out.
 But think about it:   if Jesus is that hardcore, imagine how rad God the Father is!

d. God the Father

He is majestic.  He is mysterious.  He is The Capo di Tutti Capo.

You piss him off, he will smite you.
 That's what he does. 
You don't get a whap on the hind end. No.  Fire will rain out of the sky and blood will be all in the water and people will turn into salt. 

The guy simply does not mess around when he's doing some smiting. It's best not to piss him off. Now, that said, it takes a lot of bullshit going on for a long time before he gets to the point where he says 'That's it, I'm going to smite you" and floods the whole earth. 

He does cool things too, like make water flow out of bare rock, and create the whole Earth and planets and stars and the entire UNIVERSE.  He is so magnificent they don't even show him most of the time!  There'll be some glowing huge amazing cloud with angels and shit all around it, pretty winged youths,flying babies, flying babyheads, the whole schmeer, with rays coming out of the cloud all done in gold leaf.  I know Michelangelo painted him as an old , yet buff, flying guy in a nice lavender undershirt, but after that everyone figured 'That was Michelangelo!  Who's gonna follow that act?" so they went with the Glowing Cloud of Almighty God the Father and Assorted Winged Beings.  He is the guy who does all the heavy lifting behind the scenes, the Author of All.  And what was the first thing he did for mankind?

Gave us a garden to live in.

If your theology differs, I don't care. I'm an agnostic now.

1 comment:

Z said...

We don't really have zones here - or rather, it's England. That's the zone. My garden soil is sand. On gravel. With some flints mixed in. It's a wonder I can grow anything, really. Oh, and it's slightly alkaline.

The best thing I ever did in the garden was my vegetable plot. It had been a patch of grass. We dug it all up and piled it up to rot, while we put in paths to make six beds, each 4 feet wide, plus another herb bed alongside the greenhouse, which was on the north side so kept out the worst of the weather. Then we put back the grass, which wasn't grass any more because it was compost, along with shedloads of cow muck. The concrete paths hold the warmth of the sun and rain runs off them into the beds - this is the driest area of the country but not the warmest except the last few weeks.

I did plant some shrubs in the rest of the garden, stuff that would look after itself, because I was busy growing vegetables.