Hello and good evening! Max here, or at least my dirty feet… What happened here? Why do my feet look like I’ve been living in the wilderness for the entire week? Well, you might have guessed it from the title and header but once again I’ve decided to challenge a part of life in rural Japan head-on, the hard way, and even if not a total failure, I guess calling it a success would be quite the overstatement. But I’m getting ahead of myself!
First things first, I have this little charming garden where I often spend lunch brakes and mornings on my days off.
Nice right? It hasn’t been tended to for many years though since my home has been empty for quite some time. In this picture, the charming old grass-cutter-man (↓) living in my neighborhood had just decided to cut all the weed for me so in this picture it doesn’t look all too shabby.
By the way, here he is. He is so kind!!! And very talkative! But I don’t understand even half of what he is saying, even so, it’s not rare that we somehow manage to keep a conversation going for 10 minutes or more.
Anyway, lately the lawn looks more like this!
It grows like crazy, and the rainy season has barely even begun so if I’m not careful my beloved sun-bathing-spot will soon be turned into a wild and uncontrollable jungle! And since a friend of mine offered to help me out and start my own little vegetable garden, I thought that the least I could do is lay some groundwork and take this opportunity to step up my garden-game. So what do you do?
You go shopping!
From the left! Grass fertilizer, lawn soil, the most old-fashioned hand plow you could find, an equally ancient rake and of course, a few bundles of the finest pre-grown lawn your local home store has to offer! No idea if this is the normal way to go about it but this is what I could find!
After that, you grab your ancient tools and start an endless frenetic fight against nature.
Luckily for me, my boss who stayed with me for a few days just got home for his lunch break and decided to lend me a hand!
But as you soon notice, this is some hard and painful work, especially while slowly being roasted by that big burning fireball in the sky. Whoever came up with that thing?
Even Koko looks skeptically at our slowly progressing struggles knowing better than to step away from the safety of the cool and refreshing shadow.
But if you want a nice garden than there is nothing else to do than keep hacking away at mother earth! So, maybe I should mention why this is necessary? There are tons of stones, weeds, and roots in the ground that you need to clean away. Both to ensure that the grass will be able to sprout its roots down into the earth, but also to make sure that your beautiful lawn won’t be overrun by weed in a second. You should probably aim at plowing the soil to a depth of at least 15-20 centimeters.
Work work! I must have gone over this little strip of land for at least 4-5 times. Probably more! At some point, I stopped counting… But slowly but surely, all my sweat and tears started to reap some results!
Not too bad right?! Is it only me who feel like crying a bit from seeing this marvelous progress? This is at minimum a good 3 hours of straight plowing with that old hatchet that even the ancient Egyptians had sense enough to stop using…
After we feel satisfied and have flattened the soil a bit with our feet, we can finally start to play with all the weird stuff we bought!
Well, I’m not going to pretend to be an expert when I’m actually not so I will be brutally honest and admit that I’m not exactly sure what this is. All I know is that it’s a special magical soil that contains fertilizer and is used to grow lawns.
You spread this out where you want to grow your lawn and then you watch happily as your beloved cat finally decides to help out by flattening the lawn soil.
When done, it should look something like this. You can probably do it more neatly than I did but at this point, I was pretty tired and seeing that light at the end of the tunnel might have made me start cutting some corners. If you want to complain do it after plowing a lawn by hand for 3-4 hours!
Next step is to finally start applying our lawn!
Voila! It looks a bit sloppy? It doesn’t really matter that much apparently! No, this is not only me making excuses! The closer your place them the faster the lawn will flourish but if you want to cover a wide area you can even place them in a check-pattern and in time even the uncovered spots will turn into a beautiful green lawn.
On to our next item which, confusingly enough, also is lawn soil… Yes, confusing… This one doesn’t contain fertilizer though. Apparently, this should be applied on a regular basis to prevent dryness, improve sprouting of seeds as well as helping the grass absorb and distribute water.
Spread this over the grass evenly but make sure not to cover it completely!
Lacking better methods I used this spade with holes in it to gracefully spread the soil but I’m sure you can find a better and more professional way to accomplish this task!
And finally! At long last! You get to do the easiest and most satisfying step in the process…
Watering that beautiful lawn of yours! Normally this would be it, keep watering and wait for your green paradise to bud and sprout, but not for me, I couldn’t really accept that empty corner to the right… And I felt I had a good flow… So I kept pushing on!!!
I bought myself some pieces to build a wooden deck! And of course, more lawn!
Yeay! Back to plowing again!
Oh… and you might have noticed the problem already?
Yes… They only had 3 pieces of the wooden deck at the local home store so, in the end, I will still have to live a week being haunted by that empty spot as I wait for Komeri to fill up their stock… But seriously, having all of their products in uneven numbers only? They must be out to hurt someones esthetic feelings…
So for now, I will use my non-existent Photoshop skillz and…
Literally, fake it till I make it! But still! It has some potential right? Imagine a little garden of vegetables growing around the lawn and a grill to arrange some sweet BBQ’s!! Psyched!
All’s well that ends well!… Or??? By now, maybe someone has reacted to my unfitting choice of clothes for garden work? Well… Apart from blisters and bruises on my hands, aching pain in all my muscles, I also noticed after finishing up that my legs are a… Well… It is probably quicker to have a look…
Yes! A bloody mess! This is most likely the result of me being attacked by every insect that was living peacefully in my garden until I suddenly decided to go berzerk on their eco-system with a weapon of mass destruction. Well, I can’t blame them… But wow, it itches… a lot…
So what do you do when your body feels like a piece of meat that has been pounded for hours, your hands are covered in dirt-filled blisters, your body is over-heated from hours of hard work in the sun, your legs have suffered the vengeance of innumerable unknown bloodthirsty insects?
You go to Piero and refill with some high-carb food and ice cold beer! Makes it all worth it!
But don’t be deceived, there was further suffering awaiting me right around the corner. At 3 o’clock in the night, I woke up with a strange fever, probably the result of a light heatstroke… Couldn’t sleep for another 2-3 hours. I’m telling you, garden work is dangerous and painful! Tread with care and don’t repeat my mistakes!!
Well, that will do for now, I hope you enjoyed following my pain and my struggles! And, for the record, I’m all fine now so don’t worry!
See you next week!