Well yesterday was part of the totally rearranged project list. A little more than month ago I thought I had a solid list of what I wanted to focus on. Then God laughed and life got rearranged. Suddenly it wasn’t just after New Years any more, it’s the week before Valentines Day and winter is over in Phoenix, Arizona (my apologies to anyone reading this from the northeast deep-freeze of 2015).
Everything is bursting back to life. The apples are already blooming! In order to do any of the normal pre-spring / after a last ‘freeze’ stuff, before all the new growth got too far along we had to drop everything last weekend and prune all the fruit trees. Honey-darling worked on the rest, shade trees and old Mesquite trees while I was at work during the week.
This weekend is getting set up to plant summer garden beds. Oh wait, we don’t have any garden beds…
First let me explain that we, Honey-dear and I, are not landscape or gardening experts. I would rate us just above rank amateurs, particularly in our current arid Southwest climate. We’ve had gardens in places we lived before Arizona, done pretty well in fact. But until the last two or three years almost everything we put in the ground has withered away while we watched, wondering what we were doing wrong or simply disappeared as if by magic. Just a disclaimer, we did finally learn our soil is a wasteland of primarily granite / quartz sand and we have all the help we need eating anything that does get out of the ground by our resident nemesis, the round-tailed ground squirrel. [Update: We’ve determined we are also fighting pocket gophers. The difference between the two? Ground squirrels eat from the top down and pocket gophers each from the roots up. We are trying to hold onto anything in the middle at this point!]
We even tried doing some gardening in roughed-out boxes that we could move to keep them out of the brutal sun and away from the critters. That was successful to a point, we actually got some radishes to grow and broccoli to sprout. The ground squirrels don’t seem to care for radishes but they love young broccoli plants. Yep, ate those right down to the dirt. The boxes are all that remain. Decaying, sad reminders of yet another gardening misadventure.
Last fall, while the squirrels were underground, we got it in gear and did some soil mix test beds under an improvised greenhouse. Gathered every container we thought would have room to grow test plants, mixed different amounts of native soil with compost, planted some seeds and waited. Eureka! All we have to do is heavily amend the soil. emphasis on heavily, like more than not … a lot more than not. While I’m not opposed to hard work it didn’t make any sense to just mix in enough good dirt at ground level to grow a ‘traditional’ garden. We might as well just ring the dinner bell for every squirrel/rodent, rabbit or lizard lucky enough to live nearby.
We needed something that would be fairly inexpensive to build and fill but still high and smooth enough to keep the critters out. Pinterest, Google Image and Lowes.com to the rescue. A trip to our local bulk material wholesaler for a price list for fill options and home store for the materials needed and we had our work cut out for us. (Build out info at DIY or Close)
Today is safety corners and doing the dirty work/heavy lifting shoveling in the fill. What did I get for Valentines? Sore muscles and a happy heart. Happy Valentines Day!