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In last Sunday’s post I mentioned Peter over at “cookblog” and his battle with woodchucks in his garden, which had me in stitches BTW. Apparently he’s not the only gardener/farmer having his plantings besieged by critters this summer. I ran across another blogger also waging a war against garden produce thieves. Dan of “Soulsby Farm” wrote a pretty funny post on his bunny skirmishes.

Thief!   Photo Source

Well, it’s funny reading-wise but not so much if you’re on the nibbled end. Both these posts had lots of helpful comments and expressions of sympathy from people in the same boat. Apparently the hot, arid weather across the states has made all kinds of critters hungry and bolder. Dan’s lucky because his Chihuahua, Jake chases the deer and usually rabbits off. That’s what I mean by bolder, apparently Jake is not having as much success with the cottontails this year.

So innocent looking….     Photos Source

So maybe it’s not so unfortunate that I can’t have a garden here at Grey House. I did tell you about my attempt at creating one four years ago, did I not? Hmm, maybe not.

Turns out it’s a physical impossibility without hiring some burly muscle. The front and back yards are an assortment of about five different grasses, the most prevalent being rhizome-type grasses (crab grass, quack grass) often called summer grasses.

Now I’m not a horticulturalist, this is just info gleaned from years of buying fixer-uppers with wretched “lawns” and having to rehab house and yard. My preferred grass is blue grass. It’s well-behaved and easy to care for in my opinion.

Problem with rhizome types of grass is that over the years, if not kept up correctly a thick hard core thatch builds up. Every year you’re supposed to “groom” the yard, removing the dead thatch and aerating the lawn in fall. Plant rye grass if you want a winter lawn. In spring the rye grass dies off and up comes the formerly dead looking lawn of summer grass.

This house has been a rental for well over 20+ years and as such has had the minimal amount of landscaping done to it. To date, I have yet to see the gardener or landlord apply any fertilizer to the lawn. The fenced-in back yard has apparently had it’s share of the digging dogs of past tenants whose paw-work was never leveled out. Hence, it’s a very uneven surface that you could easily turn your ankle on.

After my first attempts with a shovel yielding no success at cutting through the beast, I went to the 99 cent store and bought a cheapie 18 inch long serrated bread knife. However, the thatch had built up to form a layer of impenetrable material that goes over 18 inches deep and no amount of sawing up and down cut through the darn thing. I don’t even know if you’d hit dirt after going down that far!


Excessive thatch accumulation has lead to lawn rooting into thatch rather than soil.

Thatch is a dense layer of living and dead organic matter on the soil surface.  

The end result was to throw in the towel. Since this is a rental, I saw no point in hiring muscle to dig a garden and now in a way I’m glad I didn’t bother. Till I let everything die after the divorce was finalized, I had been quite happy with my container gardening.

My plans for reviving the containers are still waiting on me. I have hopes for getting my act together by October so herbs and cool weather crops (I’d like to try kale and peas) can get started before “winter” hits. (Note to self:  plant sweet pea seeds by cyclone fence in November.)

I have to laugh when I say winter. While I personally see the seasons in So Cal (which many residents claim they don’t) referring to winter here is just funny to me. Deep fall would be a better description for it quite frankly.

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