Saturday, September 6, 2008

Toil in the Soil

My gardening expertise began when we originally did our landscaping. I followed our contractor around for at least ten minutes, so you can be assured I know what I’m talking about. You can still see where they placed the paddles on my chest after we got his invoice too.

First, gardening is all about dirt. Not the great, shameless gossip you get from legislative reporters – real dirt.

Soil they call it - consisting of equal parts sand, mud, Pete, rocks, sticks, Gravol, and a nutritious organic material called dumbpost or fencepost. Something like that. Soylent Green maybe.

Anyway you need lots of soil. Spread it around to a depth of several hectolitres where you want to grow things, and simply wait for the built in weeds to German Ate (I have no idea what that means either).

Turns out, you can grow almost anything in dirt, especially here in the Okanagan. That is because we are in a certain ‘zone’, zones being imaginary, laughable boundary areas that are supposed to indicate what should grow where you are. The problem is, because the maps are so tiny in the garden book, you are actually attempting to grow things from Arizona (zone 1) in the Arctic (zone 20) you moron.

For example, walk around our place and you’ll see we have Hostages, Clamatoes, Hystericals, Spyro Gyras, Chrysler Anthems (all zone 18 I believe), Irishes, HideRangers, Orcas, Doozy’s, Peonists (zone 2.5), dog poop (oops)(zone everywhere), and Purple Saliva and Sweet Pee (twilight zone/full sun zone). I don’t know what those little yellow ones are called.

The city park next to us kindly supplies us with a near limitless supply of weeds too. We have Gultch, Knapsack, Bully, Yellow Annoyance, Pansy Rageworth, Spotted Pain, Canada GooseWhistle, Angry Kneecap, City Council and many others.

So you can see there is a lot going on in a garden.

You may have guessed by now that we have a rather large yard. Our original plan was to have a lovely garden that we could admire between naps while lounging on our front porch. As such, we acquired plants that, we were told, were ‘low maintenance’.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha I cry with increasing madness in my eyes. Low maintenance indeed. Let me wipe the spittle from my mouth as I go muttering about the yard, cursing the ‘expert’ staff and all their spawn at garden nursery locations. They are all lying scum.

Children are low maintenance. Large factories are low maintenance. Huge earth moving machines are low maintenance. Gardens? I beg to differ.

Oh sure – the staff at gardening centres appear to be polite and friendly. They are in fact sadistic, evil warts. In their world, seeds always sprout, weeds never appear, water falls from the sky, and little garden faeries ruin their knees, backs and trousers pulling up the weeds that grow like, well, weeds.

And another thing. Beware of plants that are ‘Native to the Okanagan’.

I have renamed our wild rose bushes because of this. They are now called Expensive, Prickly, Enormous, Invasive, Suckering Monsters With Hideous Berry-like Things That We Actually Paid Good Money For When You Can Get Them For Free Right There Outside The Fence.

I call them Dammits for short. The flowers are nice though.

Lastly, don’t eat Oregon Grapes (hint: they are not in fact grapes - yet another bit of amusing irony foisted upon the masses by ‘garden centres’). These pseudo-grapes taste like hell and you cannot use them to make wine either. (Not good tasting wine anyway. If you like a good Sour Bitter Outhouse Armpit vintage be my guest, or attend my next home-made wine party).

Oregon Grapes do, however, make a satisfyingly messy paste the children enjoy smearing over the furniture.

Natives often used this paste to permanently dye their clothing, we discovered.

My wife is now scouring Home Depot for Oregon Grape-coloured paint to match our permanently stained, Oregon Grape-coloured furniture.

I am outside, pulling weeds.

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