Monday, November 09, 2009

So far it looks like I might not be a loser.

When last we saw the Suck Less landscaping project, Bubba and I had planted 210 (!) low-water grass plugs in the front yard and I was praying that they would establish so I wouldn't look like a loser to all of my neighbors and greater Creation.

Afterward, in order to soothe my grass-establishing anxiety, I did some shopping, as is my way, and ordered "some wildflower bulbs".

Now, because I was mildly ashamed (and afraid) of my shopping trip, I didn't provide any real details about the "some wildflower bulbs" I'd purchased beyond linking to some vague description about the bulbs themselves. What I carefully left out was the amount of bulbs involved in this little Nature Shopping Spree of mine because, well, it was a little how you say, outrageous.

My friends, I ordered 800 (actual) bulbs. Yes. Eight Oh Oh bulbs. Wildflower ones. With the intention of planting them all in the front yard with the grass plugs to hopefully create this bucolic meadow scene sometime in the future.

And then, perhaps as a gesture of fortitude and determination, I also purchased the suggested small bulb planting tool because even then I knew I was in over my head and would need all the help I could get.

And need it, I surely fucking did.

WOW. People, 800 bulbs is a lot. Even when a lot of them are teeny and they all fit in your old broken plastic bucket.

And why would they all be mixed together in a giant bucket, indiscriminately mingling with one another leaving no way to tell (mostly) which were which and when in the springtime they'd bloom and how tall they'd be so that they don't block out the little teeny ones so you know where to plant each individual one for best effect?

Well, to answer that, let's just get on to Step #12 in this process of Sucking Less All The Time landscaping (Steps 1-2 are here and Steps 3-11 are here).

Step 12: Dump the contents of each bag of bulbs into one giant receptacle for planting indiscriminately because any other method would land you in the loony bin.

Box 1 of 2. Lord help me.

See, in my mind, I had originally planned to plant all these bulbs the same way I've always planted bulbs. I was going to take the bags out to the yard and toss them where I wanted to plant them. And then I would take my handy trowel and go from bag to bag (usually there's no more than half a dozen bags) planting the bulbs in clumps.

This has typically taken me about 30 minutes to an hour to complete in my great and untarnished history of planting bulbs.

I always put it off and put it off, but this task that seems like a pain is usually not a pain at all and in the springtime I am rewarded with lovely blooming things in the yard. Yay.

Well, let me be clear that this time, however, it was a pain and I should have been putting it off and putting it off because this time it would have been appropriate given the pain it involved.

And let me be clear that I didn't use this old tried and true method of bulb planting because if I had I would not be here typing this post for y'all to read. No. I'd be institutionalized with other criminally insane gardeners for putting a bulb planting spike through a passer-by's forehead.

It would have been bad, is what I'm saying.

So, thankfully, I opened up about my shopping misstep to our neighbors over dinner one night and they helpfully suggested that, rather than attempting to stage some sort of strategic coup in my front yard with specifically placed bulbs to allow for maximum height, space, design or other perfection, instead I should just dump all the bulbs in a bucket and go to work planting them just however they came out of the bucket.

Oh. You mean, without a plan?

I'll admit, at first this sounded like craziness. Like utter reckless lunacy. I couldn't fathom the haphazardness of this approach at all. Because my mind is small and my A/R is large.

But, when I received and opened the enormous box (like it could have been holding something as large as three Rockets), I knew there could be no other way. My patience would not have allowed for it.

And so sprung forth Step #12: take all the bulbs out of their little bags, pour them in a bucket and store all the bulb tags for future use as bookmarks or as reminders of weak moments of yore.

I swear this seemed like a lot of bulbs.
Lots of tags. For reminder's-sake.

And while it sorta sounds like I made this decision quickly and the ensuing dumping of bulbs into one bucket was a thoughtless, un-mulled scenario, I will tell you that it was not.

Oh no. I mulled it fervently for a solid week, as the box haunted me from my potting bench and then I mulled it some more during my shortish-long Saturday morning run (running update coming soon) and not until the bags were actually being emptied into the bucket was I secure in the knowledge that this is how the bulbs were going to get planted.

Somewhere back in the most A/R recesses of my brain I think I was still contemplating creating a complicated schematic of the yard and all the bulbs' precise planting spots. Because, after all, some of me is always going to be totally insane.

Thankfully we've passed the point in my life where that part of me is running the show. Because it is a scary thing and I don't want to live like that anymore.

Moving on!

Step #13: Take out your pent up frustration on the earth.


I started out planting these bulbs in a different way than I finished planting them, and the method by which I finished this project is far superior to the way I started. So I'm going to share with you my finishing method rather than my starting method and if you've managed to follow along in my ramblings thus far, you'll have no trouble at all.

Of course, I'm going to confuse things further by first telling you my starting, and later found to be faulty, method for planting all these bulbs. Because I know you're just dying to know.

FYI: Don't do it this way. Wait for the Finishing Method. This is just for your amusement.

So, to start, I set my bucket down at one corner of the smaller section of our front yard and began by brushing away about an arm's length of mulch, as I crouched or kneeled on one of those cushy gardening kneeling pad things.

Then, with the yard stabber (aka small bulb planting tool, which I TOTALLY recommend because it works REALLY well), I'd make about half a dozen holes at random in the landscape fabric/tarp/whathaveyou, drop in a bulb (root side down), cover it back with soil and then cover the whole mess back up with mulch - taking care to leave any grass plugs uncovered.

This takes more time than it needs to.

I did this for 3/4 of the entire space. Which was retarded. Don't do this.

FYI: Do it this way. The way I'm about to tell you. You'll be happier in the end. Promise.

So, once I got about 3/4 of the way done, I wanted to be 4/4 of the way done really badly. Like, I took a break from the arduous project just to go find Bubba and tell him how much I wanted to be done.

I'm not a very creative procrastinator.

Also, I got a glass of water and thought longingly about my lunch, which I'd finished at 1/2 of the way through the project when Bubba rescued me with a muffaletta break on our patio.

Let me just say this: Bless the muffaletta. It is so very delicious.

Anyway, once I got back from my lunch fantasizing and water drinking and bitching to Bubba about how much I wanted to be done with this horrible project I tasked myself with, I approached the remaining (and suddenly huge feeling) 1/4 of the yard in a new and more efficient (read: lazier) way.

I just stabbed the ground at random.

Yes. That's it. I just carted the bucket around with what was left of the bulbs rolling around inside and, when I saw an undisturbed bit of mulch, I stabbed a hole in the ground and dropped in a bulb.

Most of the time I made sure the root end was down. And most of the time I only put one bulb in there. The rest of the time? Well, whatever happened, happened. There were 800 bulbs! They can't all be perfect!

You know how I get.

And it all got done, so there you go.

Do you like how this looks the same as it did before? Yeah. Not super encouraging, but I promise it's OK.

Step 14: Water it.

Dudes. I know. This is supposed to be xeric. Low water. Drought tolerant. A miracle. I KNOW. But first, it must establish. And for it to establish so that it doesn't need water in future times from the hose (only the sky), you must water it. You know the song. Sing it - and water the grass and bulbs.

Then stand back and survey your greatness and take note that the watering you did back when you planted the grass plugs (and all the careful step following) seems to be working because the plugs are definitely establishing and putting out some new growth.

See how little he was before? My big boy.

Step 15: Commence finger-crossing and rain dancing.

So now, we wait. We hope that rain comes (because you know I'm not getting out there with the hose if I can avoid it) and waters the little angels so that in the spring time all the bulbs can come up in their haphazard pattern and give my A/R a little something to chew on.

We also shoo squirrels and search the internet for squirrel-shooing curses one can cast from the confines of the workplace.

We pull the random weed. We get down on our hands and knees in our work clothes to inspect individual blades of grass seen emerging in various plugs.

We threaten contractors' lives if they dare step foot on a single grass plug as they dismantle our front porch in the name of structural integrity.

But that, my friends, is another story about which you will hear all too soon.

For now - let's all hope for some rain.

Then we can get on to Step 16: Basking in the glory of your meadow-making prowess.


  1. OK. But what happens if your random planting looks like shit? Like what if you have a super obvious color problem- like too much pink one side?

    I couldn't do this. I must plan everything. Otherwise, I'd be put away for freaking out when it grew looking like shit. :(

  2. You're SO funny! What a surprise you're going to have in the spring. Won't it be funny if some really weird pattern emerges? And while you just wanted your project to be over, bask in the glow of knowing that you didn't have to clean up leaves for two solid days over the weekend!!!

  3. Well, if the effect you're going for is "meadow," then I think random is the only sensible way to plant. Otherwise, it wouldn't be so much "meadow" as "garden."

    Also, you are insane. But tenacious!

  4. It looks like hoping for rain will work...we're supposedly getting some Wednesday into Thursday. At least that is what I think I heard while sleeping with the TV on this morning. YAY for your bulbs and plugs! YAY for you getting all those bulbs in...gees, you are my hero!

  5. I was just thinking, you may get this crazy pattern from the bulbs maybe a pattern in the likeness of The Cookie Monster or Big Bird. Who knows?!?

  6. 800 bulbs? One by one? Goodness.

  7. good god I adore you. Only you can take a small, tedious task like planting 800 bulbs (!!!!) and turn it into a brilliant blog post. Thanks for the afternoon read. Can't wait to see the brilliance in the spring! That's when you get bulb growth, right? I mean, in California there aren't any growing rules. You probably have tulips in January or something.

  8. Oh, it's going to be so beautiful! I hope it spells out something naughty and inappropriate. That would be awesome.

    I had the same desire (to plant a bunch of bulbs in and amidst my front yard of as-of-yet-unfinished crapulence), so I bought an awesome auger that goes on a drill. It would have worked wonderfully if the first 12 inches of my yard wasn't infested with tree roots from our maple tree. Luckily before I bought my 800 bulbs, I realized that 10 minutes of digging had only gotten me about 3, maybe 4 inches, below ground level for one damned bulb.

  9. I'm all in favor of the the random plant and see what you get pattern. It'll be gorgeous.

  10. Looks good so far.
    What's with your porch and its structural integrity? Inquiring minds here.

  11. thank god you didn't do what one my friends did to her bulbs: she made a little wire cage for each and every one of 1,000+ bulbs and replanted them! so they'd be protected from moles or whatever. i say, if you have that many, who cares if you lose a few. plus, if there are too many pink ones in one area you can always dig them up next fall and move them (or just toss them). so there, random is great!


[2013 update: You can't comment as an anonymous person anymore. Too many douchebags were leaving bullshit SPAM comments and my inbox was getting flooded, but if you're here to comment in a real way like a real person, go to it.]

Look at you commenting, that's fun.

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Sucks, right?

Anyway, to remedy this, I usually come back to my posts and post replies in the comment field with you.

But, if you ever want to email me directly to talk about pumpkins or shoes or what it's like to spend a good part of your day Swiffering - shoot me an email to finnyknitsATgmailDOTcom.