Thursday 20 January 2022

A year in review: Garden, part one

This memorial contains almost a month’s worth of parts – though not all of ‘em are about my garden! – and the post you’re reading is the twenty-seventh in the series. 

In the middle of March I got rid of some planter boxes and vegetation in them when I put the items up for sale on Facebook Marketplace. Doing so was a revelation as there were so many questions it was evident I’d listed them for too low a price. I called the guy whose offer I’d accepted ($50 for both pots and all four plants) and asked him to up his price but he refused, so I changed the price on the listing and waited for better offers.

The guy who agreed to buy at the new price came over to survey the situation and I took a deposit, then on the Sunday he told me via Facebook Messenger that he wouldn’t be coming that day to pick up the items, but that he’d come the next weekend. Something had come up, he said, and I’d have to wait for a vacant space in his schedule. But he got in touch in the middle of the week, when the rain stopped, and came over with a friend; together the two men dug out the plants, put them in containers, removed the dirt from the planter boxes, transported the dirt in sacks to their trailer, and got everything out of the house with a minimum of fuss. In the upshot the delay had been ideal, and the day they chose for the move was optimal as the rain had temporarily ceased. The best buyer had been chosen because the disruption and mess was minimal.

I was busy on the morning of 28 April scrubbing chairs. They’d been given to me by Joe – who again asked for nothing in return – and had sat unused downstairs in the garage waiting for motivation to take over so that they could be cleaned. I’d always had in mind to take these black plastic chairs out of the basement and put them on the top verandah where I had a Bunnings cafĂ© table (written about in an earlier memorial) still, at this time, unclaimed by morning meals despite my plans for a rooftop vegetable garden. 

On 29 April I had to go to Bunnings to buy chlorine for the pool and while there I got a pair of secateurs, some shears, and a rake. I also priced planter boxes for my planned vege garden. They have some on raised legs for about $100 each that you assemble when you get home though on Facebook Marketplace similar items are priced at about $50.

The day before I’d gotten in touch with an old friend – his name is Antony – who’d recently set up a vege garden at his place, asking for tips. He put questions about the location that I answered and then he said he needed to go to a meeting. He promised to come over one day and have a look first-hand, so that he could give accurate advice.

In early May I decided to buy an electric hedge trimmer as the shears I’d been trying to use to cut the grass out front were too time-consuming, having me clip exhaustingly for five minutes to get a small area trimmed and I’d twice given up out of frustration. On Facebook Marketplace I asked about the viability of an Ozito electric model but the owner hadn’t got back to me by the time I jumped in the car to drive to Bunnings where, in an aisle near the front door, I came across a stack of boxes with similar devices in them priced at $35. This was more than the one available online but had the advantage that it’d be new, so I picked a box up, paid for it using EFTPOS, and drove home with it in the back seat. I’d already dragged out my extension cord and so, immediately I was inside, plugged the device in and went out to set to the grass, getting the job done in a few short minutes. 

Joe’s gardener had charged me the last time over $20 for the same service so I calculated that, with the purchase, in almost no time I’d save a ton of money. I contemplated offering to do Joe’s grass for $10 – I could deduct this much monthly from the building insurance premium – but decided against it as I didn’t want to be accused of being a smartarse.

I bought a hand trowel for digging up weeds on 3 July. I almost bought one from a stallholder at Campsie market – held on Sundays – the previous month when I was up there with Ming. The guy’d wanted $5 fort the tool and I said it was too much. He retorted saying that he’d accept $2 but, irritated by his greed, I’d already started to walk away. One day I went to the catastrophic hardware store on Botany Road near my place but the old guy there wanted over $6 for a trowel and I guessed that I could get a cheaper price elsewhere. In the end it cost me just over $5 new from Bunnings. I did the weeding on that Saturday, removing extraneous growth from the lawn out front and clipping the grass with the hedge trimmer. The grass had grown quite thick by this time and it was a relief to tidy up the area near the street where everyone walking past can see in. 

By the end of winter I’d swapped the chairs on the top balcony because they were corroding, replacing them with chairs Joe’d given me that have aluminium legs. By late October I’d dug up a good deal of the yellow nutgrass that had infested the front lawn. The weeding must be done when the soil is dry but since I’d discovered by using Google the growth to be a weed that must be removed mechanically I’d begun to pay more attention to this patch of lawn. Not every day as it’s fatiguing but often enough that the job could be done before the next rain. 

I learned about when it’s best to do weeding one day when I tried it when the soil was wet. Yellow nutgrass is difficult to remove even under the driest conditions, but when the soil is wet there’s too much resistance and the stems just break off, leaving the “nuts” in the ground to sprout later. I also trimmed the grass around the little magnolia that’d almost died but that, stubbornly, had inched back into action with new leaves evident as spring advanced.

The lemon tree was also showing new shoots, some near the end of the stem that I’d cut off. I’d trimmed the plant down because, one day when it was windy, the stem’d cracked. This was my fault as I’d left a lemon on the tree and the stem was insufficiently supported and moved too much in the breeze, snapping halfway up the stem. By spring there were still a few flowers and some little fruits budding and I’d also trimmed the hedge, which is made up of box and lilly pilly. The latter is very low in stature and had been overshadowed by the box, so I used the secateurs to remove some of the lower box branches, hoping this would let in light so the smaller plant could flourish. 

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