Friday, April 26, 2013

Turning a Thumb Green

Watering day at the Oak Hill homestead. Last week the rain was enough to freshen everything on this new expanse of 43,560 square feet, but there’s been little of it this week and everything is sagging with the need for a soaking. I watered some three days ago but only in one area, struggling with a disagreeable hose that slithered itself into kinks at every chance, cutting off the flow of water. Neither could I get a spray nozzle attached, making do finally with a languid flow of water.

Today I used a hose on the near side of the house and made a much better job of it. Made a good job of getting dirty at the same time, but accept that dirt is a big part of yard work. Late afternoon is prescribed as the best time for watering, and on another day I will wait until the cool of the day. Read an Earth Day magazine article yesterday that said in watering outdoors during the heat of day half the water is lost to evaporation. I don’t question that wisdom but hope that some of the evaporation is ameliorated by the shade that covers a large portion of my yard, front and back.

Confederate jasmine growing on a trellis at the front door

I have a lot to learn about yard care and gardening, so the coming months will definitely be a learning experience. Still a little nervous about happening upon a pygmy rattler flashing its fangs in all these leaves and brush, my movements are probably over careful, not quite trusting that my approach will in many cases scare off a snake. A large patch of purple lantana just in front of the screened porch is in bad need of raking, leaves layered almost two inches deep, but I worry what may be sleeping or living among that comfortable nest of leaves.

Purple lantana in a thick bed of leaves

A few tomato plants and an herb garden would be a useful project to undertake and the herbs might not be difficult. Never having tried tomato plants, a bit of reading and asking questions will have to come first. Growing up in south Louisiana my father cultivated a backyard garden every year, growing tomatoes, green peppers, eggplant, squash, butter beans and string beans. How he loved that garden, working in it just about every day after work and on weekends. But he could never entice me to join him in the hoeing, weeding and coddling. I might be in a  better position today had I laid aside the football or bicycle and worked with him in those precious rows.

Yesterday I fertilized the dozen or so citrus trees on the property, but it looks like more will be needed to give the trees some bulk. Half are spindly with too few leaves but the lemon in the front yard doesn’t look all that bad. Again, the right method or fertilizer is something a beginner needs to look into. For this first time, I grabbed up a bag labeled citrus fertilizer in the hardware store and followed the directions. A nursery might be a better choice for fertilizer and advice.

One puny and struggling Meyer lemon

As for the bugs, a new accessory seems to be effective in keeping them at bay, despite the odd appearance. Running the risk of looking like the hostess in the Piccadilly Cafeteria, I pin a sheet of Bounce fabric softener to the front of my shirt where it hangs in bad imitation of a frilly handkerchief bunched like a flower.


  1. Looks like you a "taking to" doing some farming be it Meyer lemon trees or Confederate Jasmine crawling on a trellis. You will appreciate the shade of the trees when the much hotter days of summer roll around. Can't wit to see your picture with the bounce pinned to your shirt!

  2. Having citrus trees on the property is wonderful. A tomato plant or two (even grown in a large pot) will supply you with fresh sliced ones as a side of their own or part of a salad. Nothing like going outside a picking a lemon to squeeze into a drink for porch sitting. Yard work can be a large task--that's why they call it work--but do what you can manage. I found out years ago how much fooling with plants is therapy for a cluttered mind. Maybe you will also.


About Me

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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America