Tuesday, May. 04, 2004 - 1:19 a.m.
Cost of the War in Iraq
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Succession of Species and Shit
Succession of species in my backyard
I spent hours yesterday (actually about four of them) on my hands and knees picking up shit off the ground. Literally. More about that later.
The backyard looks horrid. The grass has all died over the four years I've been here. They had just put it in the previous year, sod. I cut strips of it off in 2 feet wide swaths along the fences to plant tomatoes, herbs and flowers. It made nice neat beds bordered in green. I transplanted my rhubarb, strawberries and raspberry from my old place. I planted some mint.
The first year I had to cut the lawn alot. The second year it seemed to grow like a weed... very tall. chop chop chop. I felt so suburban to have a lawn to mow with an old pushmower I bought. I added some ferns. The mint was huge. The rhubarb seemed to be shrinking. The strawberries weren't exploding like at the old place. The raspberries were relatively sparse but yummy. I gave up on tomatoes in the back since they got tall and leggy but only the cherry tomatoes bore edible fruit in the length of a season. I built trellises in the front for tomatoes.
Last year the grass was so sparse and low that I cut it once. The weeds seemed to do well. One corner basically just died. I looked up pictures of sick grass on the internet but didn't find anything that seemed right. I also planted more ferns and lily of the valley in the shade. The mint was almost gone instead of spreading. I found about three sprigs on live roots and planted them together. The strawberries were spreading into the lawn, and very sparse where I had first transplanted them. The neighbor lady decided the raspberries were leggy when she housesat over the summer and clipped back all the new shoots (no no not the new shoots!!) I bought a new one to plant besides the first to fill it out. I dug up and transplanted some Japanese knotweed, which is known to be unkillable, along the back fence.
This year there is not really any grass to speak of. Matted damp dead grass on the ground, but very few little blades peaking up... a couple per square inch. In the corner where it was going yellow it is just simply dead. There is nothing in the soil but soil and worms it seems. I dug out dandelions and a few of the larger plantains with a butterknife. There are only three canes on the raspberry, and the new one is just dead. There are no strawberries within four feet of where they were originally planted, though there is a ring of them in the used-to-be lawn. There is no trace whatsover of mint.
But what DOES grow in my backyard you ask??
Well the Japanese knotweed is doing whoppingly well with sprouts popping up. If you cut the sprouts before they are woody, like asparagus, you can cook them and they taste like rhubarb. Yum.
Moss is great. There is moss everywhere. It is the new woodlands underbrush. The ferns are happy as hell. The lily of the valley I planted two years ago is spreading like wildfire. Plantains and dandelions seem to just LOVE my backyard. There are tiny miniscule plantains sprouting everywhere everywhere. Cat shit. Cat shit is sprouting everywhere. In the loose dirt where there was grass, in the dirt where there was mint, on the moss where there was lawn, on the porch, under the raspberries. And maple trees. Maples and moss, common plantains and cat shit.
Now this is what you call succession of species. Colonizing species may burst up at the start, like the newly imported grass and mint, but often it gets tall and gangly, in this case looking for actual real sunlight more than 2 hours a day. As they die out and fertilize the ground, other native species come in and take advantage of the conditions. Eventually the whole flora will have evolved over time to something nature intended in the first place. Maple trees, with moss and plantains. Hmmm.
Other than fight it with broadleaf herbicides, resodding with shade resistant grass, and maybe installing plant lights instead of patio floods, I think I gotta go with it. Some nice large rocks with moss perhaps??
Now about the cat shit. I don't think that counts as flora, but as an invading species exporting its shit much like NYC sending its garbage to Canada, or Toronto sending its garbage to Detroit. Hmmm. We have nice clean apartments that send their cat shit to the Wench's backyard.
Well, that is what I did yesterday afternoon in the warm air before it turned frigid again. Picked up shit on my hands and knees.
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Goodbye Michael. May your next life be kinder to you. - Thursday, Jun. 25, 2009
*inspired by Chaosdaily