It was dry and sunny today, so I went out to the garden to work. Gardens. I now officially have two gardens, the vegetable garden (solanaceae, potatoes, onions, the strawberry patch, carrots, cucurbits, and weird stuff like quinoa) and the herb garden (herbs, greens, brassicas, peas, beans, and weird stuff like dyeing plants). The herb garden is a big dirty mess. I killed the grass with plastic last summer, then spread some grass clippings and assorted debris over it for the winter, and now it’s a big mixed-up scene of varying colors of soil and amendment and dead grass and leaves. But there are millipedes and worms and spiders. There are also lots of roots from the neighbors’ bamboo, which showed up in my yard last year. I planted the considerable number of frost-heaved-up daylily roots I found around the yard the other day against that fence to combat them. We’ll see who wins.

I meant to smooth out the beds and plant a test lettuce or two, to see if rabbits are going to be a problem over there; but my back got tired. I forgot gardening is work. So I left it after spreading the soil conditioner and transplanting the two raspberry canes (they have green buds!) and digging out where the paths will eventually be, and moved on to the vegetable garden.

The first thing I noticed was that one entire side of the raised bed is in trouble. It’s still attached to the frame, but only by the top half, leaving the bottom to swing free. As I watched, a gray snake slithered into the space between the dirt and the wooden side. I’ll be out there with nails and hammer tomorrow, hoping that’ll help–and especially that I won’t have to remove all the dirt on that side before I can fix it.

Then I moved to the secondary compost pile. It’s in the northwest corner of my garden, where the ground had been bare and/or weedy and full of old junk from the previous owner, and mostly hidden by the Asian pear. I had piled all kinds of bulky junk on it last fall for the sake of getting the rest of the garden clean. Today, I moved the junk aside and found lovely compost underneath. I spread it on the west bed where the corn and squash will go, marveling that this so quickly happened to scraps I remember throwing down there.

Then I had to figure out what to do with the non-composted junk, and decided I ought to clean up around the Asian pear generally, which also involved picking up two long plywood boards that used to sort of support the “fence” (trellis) between the neighbors and us at that spot but had fallen down sometime over the winter.

One revealed a small hole, about three inches across, joined to another small hole really close to the Asian pear. And a network of tunnels just underneath where the plywood was.

Small hole

I don’t know what this is, but it worries me. Gophers? We used to have gophers in my parents’ house. They made the grass soft to walk on. I didn’t mind them but I suspect they would make trouble in my garden, especially around my beloved fruit tree. I filled them in and squashed the dirt around to pack it down.

The other revealed an enormous hole, a gargantuan hole, a nesting-place-for-elephants hole. It doesn’t look that bad in the picture but if I put my one-year-old niece in it, she’d have room for several of her favorite toys.

Large hole

“Rabbit warren,” Eric said when I went inside to consult him (and grab my camera). “There’s your problem.”

Now, this couldn’t have been last year’s problem, because this is on my side of the fence and the beans lived once the rabbit fencing got put up, plus this hole wasn’t here last spring. But it’s got clear access to the garden and I plan to plant things in that garden, things that a rabbit would love.

So I crammed the uncomposted junk into the hole: tree knots, rosebush branches, matted grass and tangles of yellowed bindweed. Then I shoveled dirt over the top, wondering whether this was really a rabbit warren and what the baby bunnies would think when they came home to find their nicely rounded-out apartment ruined. I felt bad.

Mostly because that stuff would eventually have made great compost.