Here are pictures from my latest home project. Because of the gigantic peppercorn tree shading most of our back yard, there was really only one spot that ever gets enough sun for a garden, along the side fence where we had a woodpile and a long strip of this tangly ground cover.
First step was pulling out a bunch of those vines. I measured how much space I needed and got to pullin' - and these suckers were much heavier and deeper than they looked. After we moved the woodpile to a new corner of the yard, I discovered that I'd have to pull out even more ground cover because under the wood wasn't dirt but a patterned brick surface that was too pretty to remove. We put our potted Meyer lemon tree on it, and it's much happier now, bursting with green leaves and blooms.
This is me in my digging gear. I wore a mask not just because of how ultra-cool it looks, but because my allergies were killing me and I didn't want to get a ton of dust in my nose and throat. Also, pregnant ladies aren't supposed to dig around too much in gardens, on account of all the infected cat poop. I actually don't think there was any cat poop in this garden, but I wore a mask just the same.
Now, the next picture isn't the greatest illustration, because you can't even tell how impressively deep I had to dig. But right in this spot is where I was digging away at the soil when my shovel went thunk. I reached down and brushed away some dirt to uncover some wood. Since it was so close to where that woodpile stood for lord knows how long, I assumed it was just an old log. Especially because there were so many other random objects in that dirt - old bricks, a moldy tennis ball, an unidentifiable tool - it seemed feasible that a log just got buried long ago. So I began to dig, then paused to try to pull it up. It wouldn't budge. I dug some more, tugged at the wood, again it wouldn't budge. As I cleared away dirt, the "log" grew longer and longer, and eventually I realized it was actually a root. What the hell it was attached to, I have no idea, as it snaked out under the fence from the neighbor's yard. And all they have back there is a palm tree way on the other side. Can palm trees have roots a whole freaking back yard long? I have no idea.
But I knew this thing had to go, or else my whole garden plan was ruined. So I busted out the old crappy hand saw that the previous homeowners left in the garage. I sawed my ass off, for a good 20 minutes and until my hand hurt, and I only got maybe an inch and a half into what was a four-inch diameter. By then the sun was beating down on my back and I was super pissed off. So I went snooping around in the garage and A-HA! I found a screwdriver and a mallet. I jammed the screwdriver into the crevice I made and started banging on it. To my delight, the crack began grow. My plan was working! I yanked it out, jammed it into another part of the crack, and banged the SHIT out of it. Only this time, when I went to pull it out, it wouldn't budge. Fuck.
I go grab another screwdriver and stick it next to where the other one stuck. (Hoo boy, is this a thrilling story or what?!) For the next 20 minutes, I executed many careful, calculated maneuvers of widening the crack with one driver (though not TOO much) and wiggling the other. I also began to bang the side of the stuck screwdriver with the mallet. And then a hammer. And then I went back to the mallet and accidentally missed the screwdriver and knocked myself in the shin. I was really nervous, because I knew if I got two screwdrivers stuck in there and had to give up, Sal would never, ever, ever stop laughing at me. Also he'd hide all his tools forever.
Finally I managed to dislodge the screwdriver (I think it helped when I hissed "COME OUT, YOU BITCH") and sadly it suffered irreparable damage. It was shaped like an L. Oh well. I went back to the stupid saw and spent the next half hour changing hands, positions and angles until I finally got the stupid freaking root cut off from wherever it came. (And if that palm tree dies, you never read this.)
Here's a picture of the root, next to my foot for size comparison. It is one big mother.
The planting was pretty easy. Starting on the left, I have a string bean plant. (When I looked up string beans online, it seemed that you normally plant a whole bunch of plants together, but I just had the one. Anybody up for a coupla green beans for dinner?) In front of the bean plant is some pokey green stuff that was sticking up out of the ground cover. I don't know what it is, but I decided to leave it till I find out. Then I planted four tomato plants, and on the far right is a zucchini plant.
So far everything is still alive, though one of the tomato plants looks cranky most of the time. I can't figure out why, because it gets the same things all the other ones get. Quitcher bitchin, tomato plant! I nearly lost a limb for you!