Man. The yard is a mess. I have spent a good part of the last three years -- at least -- walking around with blinders on about the front gardens, because all my focus has gone toward the food garden in the back. That's all I really care about anymore. I don't even see the perennial flowers that I spent 20 years acquiring and nurturing. They used to be the apples of my eye, but I truly couldn't care less about them anymore.
I resent the mess. I resent the work that it takes to keep them up. I resent the people who told me years ago, before I knew anything about flower gardening, that perennials are low-maintenance. They're LIARS. BIG.FAT.LIARS and miscreants! Perennials are CONSTANT constant CONSTANT maintenance, particularly when your yard has become engulfed by that miserable horsetail weed. Once that thing has taken hold, it is impossible to eradicate.
And I don't mean difficult or improbable. I mean impossible. Literally. There is no herbicide that will kill it. It propagates by spore, by cuttings, by runners. It lives through frost, it tunnels under rocks, it tunnels under and eventually makes its way through landscaping fabric. Plastic? HA! If you dig it up and you drop a microscopic speck (which of course you WILL), in a crack in the concrete, it will propagate. If you burn it, it will laugh in your face. It makes mint look like an impotent and naive wannabe.
Get the picture?
You think I'm exaggerating. I'm not.
It is estimated to have been around 30 million years. Just stop for a second and let that sink in. 30 fuckin' million years. You think a little RoundUp is going to faze it? Pshaw!
It was around at the time of the dinosaurs and it will be around at the time of Wall-E. In fact, I'll bet you 30 million dollars that that little freaking green thing that they were so excited about at the end of that film will prove to be a sonofabitching horsetail. Mark my words.
You've probably gleaned by my rant so far that the horsetail is already rearing its ugly head in this year of our Lord 2010. If that is not a sure sign of spring, I guess I don't know what is. Of course, the horsetail is not the only weed that has overtaken the perennials. Oh no, there are plenty more. But the others I can (sort of) deal with. The horsetail just makes me want to set myself on fire.
So, long story short, I have begun to set myself on fire. But it's taking a slightly different-than-traditional form, this particular strain of pyromania. Yesterday afternoon I meant to go to yoga. But three hours after I stepped outside to -- well, I can't really remember what I went outside for -- I shakily made my way inside the house and collapsed. I had apparently gone a little bit mad out there, and started digging and digging and digging -- to Indonesia or Vietnam or Cleveland or something -- searching for every little piece of horsetail I could find -- an activity which by definition is, in a word, INSANE. So the whole setting-myself-on-fire thing? Not even a stretch.
BUT here is one thing I know: Horsetail is happiest if left alone in crappy soil. So surprisingly, if the soil is healthy and rich and CULTIVATED OFTEN, as it is in my vegetable plots, then it's easier to keep ahead of the horsetail.
Which I WILL BE DAMNED IF I'LL DO to perennial beds, especially after they are all nicely mulched and whatnot, and supposed to be all LOW MAINTENANCE and all.
Am I rambling? I fear I am. But whatever. I can hardly move my arms. And my elbows, which just BARELY got the All Clear from Cindy The Wonder Therapist, are shouting at me, "You IDIOT! You should have just gone ahead and set yourself on fire and saved yourself some trouble."
Because, out there with all that digging (and I forgot to mention also the pruning of overgrown shrubs), I dug up a fairly good-sized stump and removed some smaller shrubs and fought almost to the death with a false indigo. The false indigo won. It's still in the ground, and I'm the only one Almost Dead.
Word of advice about planting a false indigo: DON'T. Don't go getting all tingly in your loins when you see one in full bloom at the jardin botanique de Montréal and rush right home and go to the nearest nursery to search one out. Non, non, non. Do not do it. Or if you do, make sure you KNOW where you want it. Make sure you KNOW it only makes those gorgeous blue sweet-pea-like flowers for about 13 seconds a year, on a day in June when you're probably going to be gone to work anyway and won't even see it in bloom anyway. And make sure you know that it becomes GARGANTUAN and it is almost as IMPOSSIBLE TO DIG UP as the freakin' horsetail. I bet you there was a horsetail somewhere in that thing's genealogy. As long as you know all those things before you put that ring on your finger and you still want to marry this thing, knock yourself out. But don't come crying to me if it strangles your children or gives the neighbor herpes. It's right there in the name: FALSE.
So where was I?
Oh, yes. Turning the perennial beds (they're less beds than they are huge amorphous blobs, vast territories, almost as vast as the Yukon -- and perhaps that is one of the problems -- lack of cohesive design, but whatever -- another rant for another day) into places to plant things I care about. As in, fruits and vegetables.
Yup, Norma's version of The Edible Landscape, comin' right up.
Maybe I have just gone a little bit stark raving pyro.