Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Sky is the Limit

KCB is a professional gardener and friend who does wonderful work in the Greater Portland area. KCB is also an accredited Master Gardener by the Cooperative Extension Service and we are honored to have KCB as part of our Skillin's Garden Log family. KCB can also be found at the awesome Finishing Touches website.

There are a lot of things I cannot do; some things I refuse to do and others I could never imagine doing. Allow me to address something that falls within the latter category.


Roofing. I am watching 4 men walking around scaffolding and climbing over gables and dormers as if they are merely taking a stroll around the block. One or 2 are sporting harnesses as they ascend the summit. These workers are bundled with several layers of clothing, a far cry from the shorts and shirtlessness of a week ago.

As a 3rd floor dweller I am nearly eye to eye with this crew. I could wave but do not dare as I vicariously am experiencing vertigo. My stomach is queasy at the thought of climbing a step ladder never mind making my way up one that extends to the sky. One of the crew is straddling the peak as easily as mounting a Morgan Horse. Granted, with crystal clear skies the view must be spectacular. He is facing Casco Bay but the better view is to his back. No, not me but Mt Washington. As if willed by me, he turns. I am dizzy just watching yet I cannot look away. Not even to type. I have a fear that my fingers have moved from the home keys with only random letters floating on the page in place of my random thoughts.

No, I could not do that job. My mind spends enough time in the stratosphere yet I want to keep my feet planted on the ground.

Acrophobia aside, I am glad I am not a roofer. During the dog days of summer the show must go on. Earlier today I asked a terra planted crew mate which was worse, 90 or 20 degrees. The answer ‘you can only take off so much clothing…’ As a gardener and someone who spent time in the south I agree. My new friend seemed to really like his job, at least today. I too like what I do. Could there be other kindred elements between a gardener who toils in the dirt and a roofer who kisses the sky? Weather is always a safe subject so we started a conversation. As a rule they do not work in the rain. Rain doesn’t stop me. We continued and found another common denominator; lightning being one of the few deal breakers. With the first clap of thunder I cease and desist. Ok, not actually true, I count to see how close it is. Still it wouldn’t be fun to be digging in the dirt with anything metal as I kneel upon the wet earth. With lightning in the forecast a roofer may not even want to venture out were clearly metal, water and electricity do not mix.

Always inquisitive I asked how he prepares for the season. I revealed my yearly promise to ready my body for the gardening season. Now it was his turn to relate. Installing a new roof does put to task muscles not normally used during other home improvement projects. Climbing, stretching and twists and turns often translate to soreness at the end of the day.

Seems we have more in common with our roofing friends than just weather preferences. Can’t you relate? Gardeners often try to contort our bodies to do our bidding. We may not climb ladders or balance on scaffolding but twist, turn and stretch we do.

I enjoyed our talk but we both had work to do...
That was several hours ago.

It appears my roofing neighbors must be winding down for the day. Braces and harnesses are removed, roping coiled and the clank of steadying ladders is detected. One is sporting a spray bottle filled with blue liquid to wash the new skylights, another takes a push broom and uses it to sweep the roof. It is fun to watch as he stretches and pulls the broom towards him. I am impressed by the attention to detail. It is the finishing touches that often make the difference.

Keep this in mind when doing your gardening this season.

Add a touch of whimsical art or other d├ęcor, sweep dirt or weed fragments from the walkway, add a clean edge to your beds, disguise the hose in a round container or behind a shrub or other object. Accentuate large faux terracotta rain barrel by incorporating terracotta containers among the bed or patio. It may be too soon to put these practices in place but it never is too soon to plan. And plan you must.

Gardeners may keep their feet and, more often than not their knees; firmly on the ground. Yet we never give up wanting to achieve new heights. Perhaps we have a little bit of the ‘roofer’ in us all.


As we dream of color galore add stretching as a chore. I have taken the liberty of recycling some information I shared a couple a seasons ago.

Get ready set go….

ASHT® recommends following warm-up exercises:

(Note: These exercises should never be painful. You should only feel a gentle stretch. Should you experience pain, please consult your primary care provider.)

 Fold your hands together and turn your palms away from your body as you extend your arms forward. You should feel a stretch all the way from your shoulders to your fingers. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 8 times.

 Fold your hands together and turn your palms away from your body, but this time extend your arms overhead. You should feel the stretch in your upper torso and shoulders to hand. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 8 times.

 This is a stretch for the upper back and shoulder. Place your hand just above the back of the elbow and gently push your elbow across your chest toward the opposite shoulder. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat eight times for each arm.

 This stretch benefits the triceps. Raise one arm overhead. Bend the elbow. Place the opposite hand on the bent elbow and gently push the elbow back and forth for 10 seconds. Repeat 8 times for each arm.

 To stretch forearm and wrist muscles. Extend an arm in front of you; making sure the elbow is completely straight. With your palm down, take the opposite hand and bend the wrist downward, hold for 10 seconds. Then turn the palm up and stretch the wrist backwards, hold for 10 seconds. Repeat 8 times for each arm.

Another suggestion offered by the ASHT® surprised me; ‘work with well sharpened tools as well as tools designed for the task’. It does make sense. Too dull a tool, say pruners, may not only damage the plant you are pruning but will result in too tight a grip to achieve the desired result. Another big ‘no’, is trying to prune a 4 inch limb with pruners more suitable for a 2 inch branch. Been there, done that. If it is taking you 2 hands to do the job meant for one, time to switch tools.

KCB for Skillin's Greenhouses
March 28, 2010

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