Gardening – minus 101

My lackadaisical view of gardening was cemented in my head forty years ago when I read an article in one of my American Heritage magazines. I recall it showing a fellow pushing an old rotary lawn mower much like the one I acquired when we bought our first home. Yeah, I know. Sounds as ancient as a crystal set.

I’m not sure which era it highlighted. It might have been the 1920’s or the 1950’s but which ever time period it was it described a mania for keeping up one’s lawn that continues even today. Eager for excuses to shirk yard work I think long and hard every time I look at Lake Superior from my sun roof. When I apply fertilizer to my yard I think about phosphates draining into the waters below and something that was once never seen in Superior – algae blooms. As a high school kid in over-fertilized, farm-centric Southern Minnesota I remember swimming in lakes so thick with algae that it looked like you could play Jesus and walk across them. And of course some blooms kill dogs who drink their water like the Red tides that wash up on Gulf Waters.

When my wife was corporate and I was busy running for office every year and everyone knew where we lived because of my snow sculptures she caught grief at work every spring because it looked like dandelions held our front lawn together. Her self consciousness made me self conscious. I began, and continue, to remove them by hand. And the whole lawn is rutted because of my early and spring snow sculpting which leads to my clomping around on thin snow that cuts into the earth below. This year I’ve been trying to clean up the front yard I couldn’t mow because the county was fixing up fourth Street. And global warning may be responsible for a massive infestation of creeping charlie in my front yard. I associate this weed with my childhood in Kansas. I’ve been pulling it out by hand. I’m going crazy cleaning up my strawberry/raspberry patch. I’ve cut my grass to a near balding golf course height and sewn new grass seed. And there’s my back yard too.

In back I removed one arbor vitae damaged by a Globally warmed October and replaced it with a spindly pea shrub from elsewhere in our garden. That took two long days. I have one more such exchange to make (the remaining tree in the picture above). I am doing all of this to free up my summer to campaign for the school board. Only I will be campaigning in my own unique way……by blog and by mail. After 17 campaigns over 40 years I figure that there are only a few thousand houses in Duluth whose doors I have not yet knocked on. I will not be getting plantar fasciitis like I did in 2017. Walking 30,000 steps daily so crippled me that I lost two weeks of door to door week by the end of the campaign.

As for my front yard. Without corporate types teasing her about my dandelions this year Claudia has expressed concern about my picking the dandelions out for my front yard. Now, with all the stories about the environment, she is worried I’m shortchanging bees by taking out one of their best early season sources of food. I’m heartless. I captured a stingless bee a couple days ago and fed it to my grandson’s Venus fly trap. All nature needs nurturing.