I set out yesterday to plant my nine raspberry bushes. They're bare root plants so you have to soak them "for several hours" before you put them out. When I re-opened the box they came in, unwrapped them all and put them in the bucket to soak I discovered that - thank heaven - I really only had six plants. PHEW!
My plan yesterday was to get 'em soaking while I prepared the spots I'd figured out to plant them in and actually plant them today. Well, the spots I'd picked didn't work at all. Finally I decided on a spot in the vegetable/flower garden that Michaela and I had prepared last fall. I had myself a Guinness and pondered how much easier an already prepared spot would be.
I was feeling very optimistic today. Only six plants and a prepared bed to put them in. Plug 'n' play. Ha ha ha ha ha! What I riot I am. I should have known better.
For you see, in my gardening this week I've been doing hand to root combat with SATAN'S SPAWN. I knew this.
SATAN'S SPAWN is a particular kind of grass. It looks like this:
Notice the robust pink color of the roots? I find the color unspeakably chilling. It is the sign of a grass root that can tunnel deep under your favorite sensitive shrub then burrow up and entwine itself snugly into your shrub's root system. You might, at first, admire the blushingly healthful appearance of the root until you go to yank it out and it's head snaps off in your fingers. Congratulations! You just made it stronger!
These roots are total mo-fos. To really get rid of this stuff you have to carefully dig up each tender root. Any segment of root that you accidentally broke off and neglected to pick out produces another evil beast of a plant. What's more, these roots are very good at appearing to be blackened and dead when in fact they are in fine working condition.
If you are (or are friendly with) a horror writer who is stuck for a good idea for a monster I strongly suggest spending about half an hour weeding grass roots out of a garden. Different grasses have different alarming features. That may be another story for another day.
Back to SATAN'S SPAWN.
Last fall Michaela and I did a buttload of hard work, spraying organic herbicide on the weeds then smothering them with cardboard and mulch. The approach proved fatal to the majority of weeds that received this treatment but not to SATAN'S SPAWN.
So, today, out comes the shovel, up comes the mulch and the cardboard, open pops my mouth in alarm. You guessed it - SATAN'S SPAWN. No plug 'n' play for me. Instead it was trench digging and hauling large clumps of root-infested soil up to a tarp I set out on the lawn.
SATAN'S SPAWN must be killed, like a vampire, by exposing the root to plenty of sun.
Of course all of this took much more time and effort than I had planned. I only got in half of the raspberries today. I'm frightened for tomorrow.
Despite all of that this location for the raspberries is still better than the ones I was thinking of yesterday. If I'd gone with one of those I would have had to remove a section of lawn about twenty feet long. Then I would have had to remove rocks from and incorporate plenty of compost into the soil beneath the lawn. At least this way I didn't have quite as many rocks to move.
My final horror for the gardening day occurred at the compost heap when I went to stab my shovel in and noticed a Spotted Salamander peeking out through the dirt. I don't know what I would have done if I'd found salamander parts in the wheelbarrow.
I think I'll wait until next year to put in strawberries.