Friday, April 20, 2012

Some Girls Have All the Luck

As a (slightly early) birthday present for Miss Lee, Mamoo and I picked up two hibiscus plants and three grapevines to replace the ones Miss Lee killed. Yeah, I said it. She totally killed them. It turns out she only killed two of them and even those I'm pretty sure were savable because their roots were pretty decent. But anyway, the main point being that we bought five new plants for here. And since Mamoo is still nursing a sore arm from something or other, I knew I was going to be the one actually digging the holes.

Now, I've lived in Arizona long enough, and dug enough holes for new plants, to know what to expect. We have caliche here in the southwest and it's an absolute bear to get through. For those that don't know, caliche is what happens when various minerals leach from different layers of the soil and create a solid layer. Sometimes it's just a thin layer, sometimes it's several feet thick. It really depends on the exact location. But either way, it's ridiculously difficult to dig through. And dig through it you must because if you don't, your plants won't grow properly. Put it this way, caliche is used in the production of concrete for a reason. So if you don't dig through it, your plants aren't going to be able to get their roots through it for nutrients and growth.

Several weeks ago I helped A put together her landscaping extravaganza and the biggest time sucker that day was getting through the caliche layer. Some of the holes took FOREVER to get through. So while I was looking forward to getting Miss Lee's new plants in the ground, I was dreading having to dig the holes.

I brought the hibiscus plants around to where they were going and raked back the rocks where I planned to dig the first hole. Mamoo came around the corner and asked what she could do to help so I asked her to move the three grapevines from the front patio to the backyard where we would be planting them. By the time she returned from that task I had the first hibiscus planted and had started digging the second hole. Five minutes later I had the second one planted. It was really quite easy. And then I moved to the back.

The backyard bakes in the sun most of the day so I expected it to be much tougher to dig through. Amazingly, it was even easier than the front. The soil was loose, dark and smelled wonderful (don't mock me, earthy is a good smell.) It was like she Midwestern topsoil in her very arid Arizona backyard. It was wonderful and I was done planting the three grapevines in record time.

Now I don't know if her soil has always naturally been that way (probably not). I don't know if maybe the land her house sits on used to be one of Phoenix's agricultural areas (maybe). I wouldn't even rule out the possibility that previous homeowners have amended the soil over time to where it's at today (most likely). But whatever the history or reason, Miss Lee has some damn good soil in her yard and with a little bit of water and patience she could probably grow about anything she wanted. And it sure made planting her birthday presents a whole lot nicer as well.