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Blog entry by stefang posted 05-11-2010 07:05 PM 610 reads 0 times favorited 27 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Yesterday was cold with rain showers all day, so instead of working in the garden we hauled our garden waste out to the recycling center. Afterward we went and got some bark for the beds. Today was cool at 10C, but dry with mostly clear skies. Perfect weather for working outdoors. If you happened to see my last blog doing the lawn edging, we were just finishing up that work today by adding some fresh dirt along the edge and then covering it with bark.

We don’t use the nice red ornamental bark because it’s expensive and since it is almost constantly windy here it just blows away. The one we use stays put. It keeps the weeds mostly away and when we do have to weed a bit it’s always easy because the soil seems to stay looser too.

Here’s a shot of our roughly 1 cubic yard of bark. The next photo might be of interest (or maybe not). This is a 2pc tool used to handle anything you might normally use a shovel for. The pan with the handles holds about 3 good sized shovelfulls of whatever your working with, which you can then throw into a wheelbarrow,whether it be gravel, dirt, sand, bark or whatever. The shovel part is pulled to drag the stuff into the pan. The sharpish corners on the shovel part make it easy to get it into whatever you are working with. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that I have moved at least 100 tons and maybe a lot more in my over 30 years here in Norway. I never saw one before coming to Norway. They have been around for at least the last hundred years and used for just about every kind of construction work. A great tool and a cultural icon. (Ok, you can wake up girls, I’m finished!)

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Here is the wife doing the brain work while the heavy lift and transport division (that’s me) keeps her supplied with the bark. I hope I get away with posting her picture this time. Her image is so small she might not be able to see it from her chair. The 2nd shot is the finished job. We did do a lot more, but this gives you the unfinished result.

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Our work was really going well until the “incident”. That was when I clipped off the wrong branch of one of the wifes favorite “Blue Swede” Junipers. Here is a close-up of one.

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It all happened so fast, and I didn’t know whether I should run and hide in my workshop or if I should make a stand. I realized at once that dinner this evening might not be my favorite dish. My wife said ” you are not much of a gardener” I replied that I have never claimed to be. Luckily my wife is not a vengeful person and a glass of red wine later on healed the wound. In fact we are just having it now as I write and my wife is in the middle of her daily phone visit with her 90 year old mother.

If you are wondering what “Contrast Gardening” is, it is when my wife is overambitious in her gardening and I’m under-ambitious, which is the way it was today.

One last not too exciting photo of our little holly tree. It was just a twig not so long ago and I’m constantly amazed at how much it has grown and how healthy it appears. Holly is prized as inlay stringing on woodworking projects, but I don’t think I will ever have the heart to cut it down. We’ll see.

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If you have made it this far, I admire your perseverance and I thank you for reading it. Have a great day!

-- Mike the reluctant gardening assistant of Lillian



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stefang

393 posts in 1635 days
hardiness zone 7

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27 comments so far

View Iris43's profile

Iris43

3807 posts in 2285 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 05-11-2010 09:07 PM

What an interesting tool, Mike. I have never seen anything similar here in CA. I wonder how well it would work for an old woman. (vbg)

Your narrative of working with your wife descrbes almost exactly the working relationship of my DD and her partner. :) In the garden, she is boss and he treads gently. Although I’ve noticed that between the two of them, they do an amazing job. 8^)

-- 'To plant a Garden is to believe in Tomorrow'

View Cynthia's profile

Cynthia

651 posts in 2061 days

posted 05-11-2010 10:36 PM

Mike: You and your blogs are getting to be one of my favourites! You have the soul of a gardener…Of course, your wife is the boss in the garden…I have Charles to help with the heavy labour and Jared, our son, uses his muscles to dig in the clay with a pick-axe if necessary. Everyone gets to be a part of the landscaping, this way. The juniper is pretty. Did your wife catch you posting her photo? Send more entries. I do enjoy them…

View donjoe's profile

donjoe

220 posts in 1641 days
hardiness zone 7

posted 05-12-2010 04:16 AM

Mike, I love the blog. The tool you told about had my mind racing as to all the things I could use it for. I agree about the holly tree. I’m on the lookout for wood to use in the shop also but I think the holly needs to stay put.

-- Donnie in sunny South Carolina

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

192 posts in 1958 days
hardiness zone 7b

posted 05-12-2010 08:22 AM

Mike, We have a couple of hollies by our rhodys. One is mixed in with a chain link fence on the back side. It is very slow growing. The other is on the edge of a rockery and in front of the rhodys. It popped up in just a few years. It could not be in a worse place. My wife wants to keep it;-( I’m not sure these little bushes will make good wood working wood. I have been thinking out this for a while now while trying to figure out how to best salvage the one in the fence.

Sounds like normal around here too:-)) Every time I weed, i get something I shouldn’t have!!

That shovel looks more like a hoe to me.

View stefang's profile

stefang

393 posts in 1635 days
hardiness zone 7

posted 05-12-2010 10:04 AM

Thanks for your comments everyone.

Cynthia Not being a brave man and wanting to avoid the risk of a 2nd “incident” I chickened out and asked her if it was all right, and amazingly I got her approval! Did you notice her crutch leaning against the tree out there? She’s at least as unsinkable as Molly Brown was.

Yes Donny A very useful and versatile tool which we call a “Krafse” (grab) and “Brett” (pan or tray).

Bob it is pulled like a hoe, but of course it moves a a lot of material very quickly. They can also be purchased with a long handle, but that seems a little redundant when you have to bend over to pick up the pan anyway. About 5 pans full fills a good sized wheelbarrow with a heaping load. That would be done with about 10 pulls more or less on the grab and 5 lifts with the pan. Since all the weight is supported while you are filling the pan, the only real work is lifting the pan to empty it into the wheel barrow. It would take about 30 good shovels full to match this, which would require a shoving motion, a lift and a swing with all the weight out on the end and exerting leverage on your muscles. Much more tiring and more time consuming. Most of my neighbors use rented mini diggers and some get local farmers to help them with their tractors. Personally I think it’s great to get the exercise and in spite of a real bad back it helps me keep fit. But for those who are not retired time can also be an issue.

-- Mike the reluctant gardening assistant of Lillian

View davidc61's profile

davidc61

417 posts in 1689 days
hardiness zone 4

posted 05-12-2010 12:45 PM

Very interesting tool, I to enjoy reading your blogs keep up the good work.

-- David, Adelaide South Australia. Every day I wake up breathing is a good day!

View Radicalfarmergal's profile

Radicalfarmergal

4305 posts in 1918 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 05-12-2010 01:59 PM

I am enjoying your blogs too, keep writing them! About the holly… Do you know what kind it is? I like holly bushes and I am growing two kinds: Winterberry (Ilex verticillata), which is deciduous, and the American holly (Ilex opaca) which is an evergreen. There is a holly preserve on Cape Cod that grows the most amazing holly bushes and trees. It makes me want them all, but our climate is too cold for most hollies. Your yard is looking great; what did you end up eating for dinner? : )

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout

View Bon's profile

Bon

7374 posts in 2436 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 05-12-2010 02:18 PM

What an interesting tool Mike.Never seen one before.Your yard looks great with that bark down.Nice job.

-- Bon,Hastings,Ont.....zone 5a....Always room for one more

View stefang's profile

stefang

393 posts in 1635 days
hardiness zone 7

posted 05-12-2010 04:42 PM

Thanks for the nice comments everybody. I am very glad to see your posts too. I have been taking a little time to look at everybody’s older projects, and I amazed at all the beautiful gardens and of course the great photos. It seems like gardeners are just as nice as woodworkers, so it is a privilege and a pleasure to enjoy socializing with you folks here on GT.

Robin Our Holly tree is evergreen, it’s latin name is Ilex Aquifolium. It gets red berries and has very shiny leaves.

-- Mike the reluctant gardening assistant of Lillian

View Greenthumb's profile

Greenthumb

2287 posts in 2476 days

posted 05-12-2010 04:53 PM

I really like the contrast made by mulch when used to define an area of a garden, seems to make it quite crisp and on the other hand I also like the softer definitions where things sorta blend into one another.

I do the same thing in places, truck load after truck load of mulch, manure…..............thankfully it never ends.

-- just one more rock, and the garden is done ; )

View stefang's profile

stefang

393 posts in 1635 days
hardiness zone 7

posted 05-12-2010 05:57 PM

The only garden rule is that it pleases the one who tends it. My wife and I don’t always agree with what is aesthetically pleasing, but after a thorough beating I usually agree with her.

-- Mike the reluctant gardening assistant of Lillian

View Radicalfarmergal's profile

Radicalfarmergal

4305 posts in 1918 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 05-12-2010 06:43 PM

Your holly bush is not hardy enough to grow here. It sure is beautiful. May it live a long and happy life, perhaps only sacrificing an extra limb or two to allow you to do some inlay. : )

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout

View sharad's profile

sharad

1638 posts in 1873 days
hardiness zone 11

posted 05-12-2010 08:19 PM

Mike your blog is informative with a touch of humour in it. Using bark on beds I learnt on GT. Who sells the bark , a saw mill or murseries ? Your arithmetic of labour involed in using shovel and the new 2-piece tool (to fill a wheelbarrow) is very convincing. Lifting the loaded pan may be a limiting factor in some cases but not for you. I am glad that a glass of red wine has extinguished the fire! Awaiting more of your blogs.

Sharad

-- Bagwan-- “If someone feels that they had never made a mistake in their life, then it means they have never tried a new thing in their life”.-Albert Einstein

View dini's profile

dini

1591 posts in 2372 days
hardiness zone 5

posted 05-12-2010 09:32 PM

i am really enjoying your blogs, And hat’s off to your partner! Tell her that she doesn’t look any worse out their with her crutch, than I do with my oxygen hose!

-- the day you quit learning is the day you quit living.

View stefang's profile

stefang

393 posts in 1635 days
hardiness zone 7

posted 05-12-2010 09:53 PM

Robin, There are so many varieties I shouldn’t think that would be a problem. I do prefer the evergreen though because it looks very nice at Christmas time. A good idea about clipping off a branch or two for some inlay. I’ll have to remember that.

Thank you Sharad. The only problem with being humorous is that nobody takes one seriously. As for the bark, we buy ours from a small landscaping/nursery company. They use a large quantities of it because they do a lot of landscaping for the various small communities and also some private customers, so I guess that it is only natural for them to sell it retail too since they have a steady supply available and the equipment to move it with. It does make a good mulch, but I’ve read that it can also deprive the soil of nitrogen. We haven’t had any problems with that over the many years we have used it, but it might be different in other climates. I would also think that the more fresh the bark is the more it could affect the soil, but that is just a guess.

Thank you Dini. She seems to being doing well with the hoe, which serves as a crutch too while she is working. She doesn’t seem to be worried about what it looks like, but she sure wants to get rid of it! She is just allergic to cameras and has been in our 44 years together.

-- Mike the reluctant gardening assistant of Lillian

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

192 posts in 1958 days
hardiness zone 7b

posted 05-12-2010 11:18 PM

Mike, you don’t need much nitrogen in landscaping. The mulch will keep weeds down.

My wife always has a reason why I shouldn’t take her picture now too. Not dressed right, hair is not done, ............

View stefang's profile

stefang

393 posts in 1635 days
hardiness zone 7

posted 05-12-2010 11:48 PM

That’s my experience too Bob. Maybe the wiives just don’t want anyone to know they are married to US?

-- Mike the reluctant gardening assistant of Lillian

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

14683 posts in 2656 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 05-13-2010 12:30 PM

say hi to the boss for us and tell her that it is nice to see her in the photos :)

your yard looks so beautiful.
(ditto what everyone said)

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View stefang's profile

stefang

393 posts in 1635 days
hardiness zone 7

posted 05-13-2010 06:41 PM

Thanks Debbie, I did and she said hello and thank you too. I married a shrinking flower. Very appropriate for such a poor gardener as me!

-- Mike the reluctant gardening assistant of Lillian

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

14683 posts in 2656 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 05-14-2010 05:23 PM

sounds like you two are the perfect couple :)

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View stefang's profile

stefang

393 posts in 1635 days
hardiness zone 7

posted 05-14-2010 08:32 PM

Yes. We are opposites that attract. We still enjoy each others company after 44 years of marriage. Perfect might be a slight overstatement.

-- Mike the reluctant gardening assistant of Lillian

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

14683 posts in 2656 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 05-14-2010 09:49 PM

44 years is quite an achievement in this day and age. Congratulations. Now if you could just teach others your secret :)

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View stefang's profile

stefang

393 posts in 1635 days
hardiness zone 7

posted 05-14-2010 11:35 PM

Mutual respect between equals and cowardice.

-- Mike the reluctant gardening assistant of Lillian

View jroot's profile

jroot

5065 posts in 2286 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 05-14-2010 11:45 PM

Looks great, Mike.

44 years is quite an accomplishment these days. I’m not quite there, but close behind. :)

-- jroot ....... Southern Ontario .......... grow zone 5A ...................."Gardening is an exercise in optimism." ....... . . Author Unknown

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

14683 posts in 2656 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 05-14-2010 11:52 PM

equals – check
mutual respect – check
cowardice – LOL LOL

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View stefang's profile

stefang

393 posts in 1635 days
hardiness zone 7

posted 05-15-2010 11:51 AM

I did forget to add that love helps a lot too. Our marriage philosophy is pretty simple.

1. Marriage is a 50/50 proposition, but that is just an average. At different times it can, for example, be 90/10 or 70/30.

2. When you get angry at your mate try to remember that this is the person who has committed themselves to spending their entire life with you, come rain or shine.

3. No.1 and 2 works for us. Others with successful marriages have their own personal ways to make their marriages work. Our “rules” are just an aid to remind us what is important.

-- Mike the reluctant gardening assistant of Lillian

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

14683 posts in 2656 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 05-16-2010 12:27 AM

good tips :)

another one is to remember that a little “glitch” is just that – a little glitch, not the big picture. Deal with it and move on—back to #1 and #2 :0

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

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