Monday, June 17, 2013

I'm going to a gardening party

It's a gardening party of one, but still...

Yummy and I and her parents are still on good enough terms that I was allowed to raid the raspberry bushes at their house. Last summer I noticed that a lot of what was growing along the edge of their lawn were raspberry bushes. Dodging the thorns we managed to pick quite a few. The deer came for the rest. Wednesday I went to take a few before Yummy's dad starts a culling of the bushes. I hadn't realized just how invasive raspberries are. There's a lot more than there were last year. As I worked at digging up eight small ones I found runners just under the surface that were running all over. Seriously, their patch seems to have tripled in size over the course of a year.

I picked eight small raspberry plants that were growing in the middle of a path I'd been trying to cultivate in a fenced area behind the house. Not that they have any interest in going back there, but I think they need a hiking trail. I've already killed off their poison ivy. I can't do anything to calm their tick concerns, though.

Six of the poor tortured plants got planted in the yards of abandoned houses on my alley in Baltimore. Five of them look like they'll live. Two others got traded to my contractor in return for some blackberry bushes from his place. One got put in the tire that I turned inside out to see how that effects runner development. I'll be trying to develop the raspberries in rows so that people can walk down them  and pick easily instead of having to hack their way in or get cut up by stickers.

I also took my trusty bottle of RoundUp and walked the alleys that run between Norman's House and the Annapolis Bog. In my alley and around my block I kill everything that might collect trash or is growing through the sidewalk. Down these new alleys I was targeting poison ivy and curly leaf dock. Dock is very invasive and all over Westport. Poison Ivy I'm highly tolerant to and only break out if it gets in a wound. So, as a kid, I was the go to guy for killing the stuff. I've developed a grudge against it and kill it off wherever reasonable.

After spraying those alleys I used the rest of my bottle treating the more persistant things in my alley. Once I reached the bottom of the alley I had another look at the building across the street. That wasn't english ivy or virginia creeper going up that wall. No, poison ivy had covered about 1/5 of the building. And the lawn was a mix of poison ivy and a fresh blanket of curly leaf dock I intended to wait a week before attacking it. I try to keep down to a bottle a week. But by Sunday I couldn't take it anymore and attacked. I could only do so much since I was unwilling to wade into the poison ivy. But I shot up the wall as far as I could and into the yard as far as pressure would allow. Next week I check on it to see what's sick and what I've missed. The week after I should be able to wade out further and kill some more. And hopefully reach the trunk of the big vine and cut it.

I continued down the alley with what was left of my bottle and found the alley heavily overrun with poison ivy. Alas, I also found many garbage piles. If anyone doubts that my actions are doing any good they can just look at the alleys on either side of mine and compare.

I'm not sure if I've mentioned that I've been fencing off the yards of the abandoned houses in my alley. $3 fence posts and cheap plastic fencing held on by zip ties. It's not my yard and there are metal thieves in the area so I'm not sinking too much money into these places. But I'm trying to discourage dumping. After nearly two months the city finally cleared out the dumping in a yard across the alley. That was the last yard that needed a fence. They also mowed that yard and one other. Now I claim those yards as mine. I got a 100ft extension cord so I can get the weed whacker over there. In one of the yards I'd been putting dirt that I'd shoveled out of the alley. I'd planted some pumpkins and hyacinth bean in that dirt and they are coming up. Free pumpkins for the neighbors this Halloween!

Inside the house I finished mortaring one wall, cut down the ceiling joists in the hall and demoed room, and started cleaning the sloppy mortar off the bricks. That last bit is being slowed by the limited life span of the batteries for the drill that runs the flapping sandpaper thing.

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