Sunday, February 28, 2010

Spadeing the yard


The double digging continues apace. At a slow pace. I’d really wanted to finish by the end of February, but here it is and I’m only about 80% done. Between weather and increased job responsibilities, I just haven’t had the time. (And yes, I know that in days of old, rainy days were thought to be best for working in a garden, but I’m a soft modern American, and while I did dig in the drizzle, I wasn’t going to during a full-on rain.)

While out there digging, I have had the opportunity to connect with my neighbor, something I never did while I was a sit-in-front-of-the-computer homebody. He is a Ukranian immigrant, and raises homing pigeons, which is pretty neat. He keeps trying to get me to grow tomatoes and has all sorts of advice on how to do it.

Anyway, one day while I was out there, Alex asked me if I’d like him to sharpen my shovel. Sharpen a shovel? The idea blew my mind. But it makes sense -- less resistance makes for an easier thrust through the dense soil. So I asked him to do it, mostly just to see if I could feel the difference. And boy, quite a bit of difference. It is much easier to make the initial thrust down to cut the sod, but I feel the improvement most when I undercut the sod, jamming the entire shovel horizontally through the roots of lawn.

After I thanked Alex, he also suggested spraying the shovel blade with WD-40 (definitely not a medieval technique, but it did arouse my curiosity), which I tried once but it didn’t seem to make any difference. One morning I went out to dig, only to find the yard covered in frost. It was not the first time that has happened, and it doesn’t have much of an effect on the digging (the sod cuttings seem to stay in one piece a little better). But this time, the caked on dirt from my last session was frozen onto the shovel, giving me maximum resistance and making the digging nearly impossible. The frozen dirt did not want to scrape off either, until I resorted to hosing it off.

But things are moving ahead. I ordered seeds this week, and will post my planting plan later in the week.