This year's gardening season surely will go down as the Year of the Mud.
In past seasons, I have celebrated:
• The Year of the Peaches, when my lone tree produced fruit in such abundance I literally shoveled fallen fruit off the ground … and into a trash can.
• The Year of the Garage, a soggy summer when I was trying to build a garage/shop and had to broom off the slab every morning just to claim a relatively dry place to work.
• And the infamous Year of the Fences, the summer I bored so many postholes that my shoulders still ached on Thanksgiving.
But this year definitely will be remembered for the mud.
We enjoyed such abundant rainfall in May that it broke an ancient record, helped not a little by the mid-month deluge that amounted to 5.5 to 8.5 inches in 24 hours, depending on whether or not you lived at the airport that evening.
It's tough, when you live on the Great American Desert, to get grumpy about rain. You never know that a gullywasher on Memorial Day won't be the last precipitation you'll see until after Labor Day.
But enough is enough.
The backyard squished when I dashed out between storms to give the lawn a quick haircut.
I planted onions and cannas simply by poking the bulbs into the mud with my fingers.
Mosquitoes went at it with joyous buggy abandon, producing ravenous offspring that apparently all thought my legs were the prime rib roast on the buffet line.
And the weeds celebrated as if it was their last hurrah. It wasn't. More's the pity.
And now for something completely different:
For a week last month, I randomly flipped through a book that I'm frankly surprised even exists. "Compost City: Practical Composting Know-How for Small-Space Living" is a manual for would-be urban composters.
Apparently, city-dwellers needed a special guide. Author Rebecca Louie outlines in great detail dozens of aspects of composting that, frankly, I'd never considered — from the usual bin composting (both batch and continuous), to trench composting, to vermiculture (that's worm farming, for those who tanked high school Latin), to bokashi fermentation.
The last is a Japanese anaerobic method that makes use of beneficial bacteria to break down organic waste into something useful.
There are even a couple of chapters devoted to community composting and what Louie calls eco-taining; that is, using social gatherings to get out the word about the glories of rotted plantlife.
All of it is great information and probably of tremendous value to whomever hasn't noticed that Mother Nature has been composting quite nicely all by herself for … ever.
I think $16 is a bit out of line to learn that if you mix brown stuff with green stuff and add water, then stir it up every now and then, you get compost.
But that's just me.
(Send your questions to HouseWorks, P.O. Box 81609, Lincoln, Neb. 68501 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.)