Sunday, June 30, 2013


Summer is transforming itself with some deception. I know from experience (or at least I think I know) what will happen if I attempt to do any serious work outdoors in July and August. But now the rains have started. Yesterday a nice cool one soaked me as I was planting the new sun-loving bamboo that should do well along the fence and should help hide the power pole out back. The quick flash of rain had me shivering when I came in to the air conditioning.

Cheryl got me a great book on Japanese garden design. It's got my head swimming with all sorts of ideas, of wandering stone paths and Feng Shui and complexity and simplicity, except that all these ideas require work to implement. And July is here.

We've also got four new trees in the back yard, sitting in pots until we find the right spots for them. Here's our Calamondia orange.

In the master project schedule for the backyard, it's OK to get these plants now because they are out of the way and won't be disturbed by the hardscaping to come, such as the French drain I'll need to make below the patio (which now puddles up during a rain). The yard will be a mess for months to come.

Also last week we put in 4 new giant bird of paradise alone the fence.

Ha, no heat stroke yet.

Here's another of the new trees: a Kaffir lime.

Am I tougher than the summer? Maybe this year I am.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Not What the Mayans Would Do

Continuing on with the long and painful process of converting our former jungle into a less-jungly place, yesterday I tackled the area by the outdoor oven, a place that had become covered with weeds and vines to the point that the stone patio had disappeared, not unlike some of the Mayan ruins that we visited in the Yucatan, overgrown from centuries of neglect, except in our case it has only taken a few years.

No, this patio was not designed with the skill and foresight of Mayan engineers. Whoever put down these stone did so in a hurry and without regard for the future--no real drainage is accounted for, so in just a few years the rain waters have deposited a layer of Florida soil on top. Adventurous roots found a way to grip onto the stones and create their own layer of earth.

A row of ferns lines the patio to the left, several of which were growing directly on top of the stones. I severed these from the main group by cutting the roots with garden shears. Once the roots were cut I was able to pull away the thick mat of tiny roots covering the stones for about two feet, very much like a fibrous door mat about 2 inches thick.

Ferns will cover the planet after humans are gone--they are by far the biggest bullies in our yard.

Then on to the rest of the area, pulling the weeds one at a time from between the stones, checking with my shears to see when I was on top of stone or not. I swept away the dirt and weeds and then attempted to wash off newly revealed patio. I didn't even realize that the stones extended all the way to the picnic table (on the right). Of course, I couldn't really wash them because the water just puddled.

Unless I redo this patio, it will get eaten up by the jungle again, and very soon. This whole area needs to be elevated several inches so that water will run of quickly. Worse, the low spot is currently the air hole that feeds the oven--if a storm comes up while I'm smoking something, the water will just rush into that hole.

All I need is a ton or two of sand...

Next: setting up our new fruit trees.