My Arms Hurt

Digging, digging, digging. Today I digged. Dug.

Continuing with yesterday’s gardening, I raked all the nicely tilled soil into rows this morning, then covered the rows with weed blocking fabric. Since the soil is so nice and light, it made rather tall rows, so that when I pegged down the fabric, the effect is as if I had dispatched those who displeased me and planted them, neatly if obviously, in my back yard.

I planted a dozen or so shallots in one row. My mother-in-law Muriel gave them to me when we visited a few weeks ago, although it’s a bit late to get them into the ground (they probably should have been planted in the fall). I cut a long slit into the fabric and poked the shallot bulbs into the exposed soil, then gave it a good watering. The rest of the planting will have to wait until the weather is a good bit warmer.

With the vegetable plot tidily arrayed, I turned my attention to the very back of the yard. The Town of Vienna has run a storm drainage easement along the rear property line of our property and that of several of our neighbors. The theory is that runoff from a number of other nearby properties will spill into this easement and careen down it to a drain at the end. That would be the theory; the practice, of course, is a good bit different. Over time, the easement has filled with dirt (and debris, for those neighbors who don’t keep it clear). This means that the water doesn’t run like it should, and usually ends up pouring down into the middle of our back yard. A previous owner had used landscaping timbers to mark the easement and help hold the water in its course, but over time the timbers have rotted away and last year we pulled them out.

I had the bright idea this year of transplanting a whole lot of hosta to the area previously occupied by the timbers. I figured that a row of hosta (which is a large, leafy, shade-loving and hardy plant), once established, would be a lot more sightly than timbers and help hold the water back about as well.

Fortunately for me, my neighbors Dennis and Priscill were dividing hosta in their own yard (hosta grows on rhizomes which propegate with vigor – the time to dig them up is now, when the tightly furled leaves are just spearing their way to the surface). They offered me the plants they didn’t want and simply dropped them over the fence between our back yards. I gathered them up, transported them to the back of the yard and started digging.

Of course, we have trees in our yards, which means I had to deal with roots. Not big ones, but the little runner roots. I hacked through them with a hoe, dug holes and planted the eight or so rhizomes that Dennis and Priscill had kindly provided. Then I dug up a bunch of hosta rhizomes near our toolshed and hacked holes for them. I added a little compost to each hole and set each rhizome in the ground, then dug them in. I have a bunch more to transplant tomorrow.

Between the hoeing and the raking and the hacking and the digging, my arms are pretty sore. But it’s a good kind of sore, the sore you get when you’ve worked muscles that have gotten lax and lazy. I’ve taken some ibuprophen and I’ll be back outside tomorrow – me and the yard, getting in shape.

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