Saturday, May 30, 2009

Say Nothin' Saturday

(Sorry, but I just had to say a little somethin about one of my Viburnum Leaf Beetle photographs bein used by Insect Guide Debbie Hadley. She's also plannin on doin a full article about the VLB in the future that will include more of my photos. Visit Debbie's Insect Guide site, she knows bugs. )

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

As young as you don't feel

It's gotten harder, and I know why: 53. That's why. I don't like to talk about it, because there's a certainty that will come and then it'll be over. Most of us don't know when it'll happen, but it will. Do you think it's morbid to talk about dying? We see it in the garden all the time, but out of the garden we don't like to talk about it.

It's happening here and now with a viburnum. I didn't notice until it was too late to do anything about it. (Which is probably how I'll go.) The culprit: Viburnum Leaf Beetle. They overwintered as eggs on the twigs of my plant and I had no clue. The larvae in the photo are feasting on one of the leaves. Early spring gardening which at times seems so hectic, kept me from noticing the lack of foliage on the bottom half of the viburnum. Over the next three days it was completely defoliated and skeletonized.

The above photo was taken May 22. There were still a few remaining leaves located on the tip of the shrub. But over the next two days, every leaf was devoured.



Research says that if the VLB attacks your plant like this for 3 consecutive seasons, the shrub is a goner. An "Entomological Notes" fact sheet I have from Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences says that "many of the viburnums affected are species native to the United States." It also mentions "less susceptible" varieties but we all know there's no guarantees.




Saturday, May 23, 2009

Shadow Play



One-armed raker

Friday, May 15, 2009

The blues (in the sky)

How do you juggle writing jobs and gardening? Especially now that the growing season is upon us? It's been over a week since I've posted a new entry. But I was asking myself why worry about blogging when it doesn't generate income? "But you have ads here," you might ask. Yes, and so far someone has pocketed about $20. At that rate of return, I don't know when I'll ever collect a dime, it has to reach $100 before anything happens. Do I blame myself for not providing interesting content often enough, or you for not visiting and clicking on those ads regardless of content?

Right/Write now, I'm working on four articles (five if you count this one): my regular weekly gardening column; an article about a unique new material recovered from acid mine drainage that is used in pottery glazes (for the montly "Going Green" page in the same paper my gardening column runs in); a second article for "Life & Times, a Magazine with Senior Flair" (published by The Herald, the sister paper of Allied News, both papers carry my column); and a story about a local Boy Scout troop receiving a $5,000 donation from one of our State Representatives.

And there's blue skys and warmth calling me out to the garden! So, how do you juggle your careers and find time to answer the call of your gardens?

My camera also begs of my time.



Thursday, May 7, 2009

In the meantime...

I'm not sure if it was negligence on my part, laziness, or forgetfulness that caused me to over winter two of my yard machines with gasoline still in them; a small 14" chain saw, and weed eater. The saw finally took to the treatment, started, and is now in good working condition. But the weed eater is still mad at me. I think its fuel filter is all gummed up (I'd be mad too) and I don't see how to replace it without removing the gas tank. I'm hoping a day or two of sunny warm weather will prompt it to de-gum itself before I result to drastic measures.

In the meantime, there's other gardening chores that need my attention. My wife covered two areas of sod with old newspapers, some cardboard and leaves last fall and those spots need tilled in with amendments. I think she said something about growing specific flowers that dry well for use in wreaths and what not.

I also want to move a bunch of hostas into containers. It's going on four years now since I started a new hosta garden in the front yard, under three very tall blue spruce trees. I've waited for those hostas, and a few other companion plants, to fill in but I've come to the conclusion that they're not getting enough water. Kerry Meyer, over at Proven Winners, suggested I put them in containers until I find the right spot. "I had some leftover hostas after moving, and divided some that were here when we bought our house. I put them in a pot to 'hold' them until I decided where to put them. Two years later and they are still in the pot and looking great." That's from an email Kerry sent. I think that's a great idea, but first I'll have to mix up a sizable amount of potting soil and gather enough pots.

I never have to worry about draining the gas in my mower and storing it over the winter because it's in use pretty much year round. It's almost 20 years old and still runs good. Mowing has begun here, and I'm sure most of y'all are all too familiar with how often you have to do that in early spring. I mentioned being negligent earlier; last fall I didn't clean the decks or sharpen the blades on the mowers, which caused me to get behind on mowing. As fast as the grass is growing now, I don't like getting behind on that chore.

Some folks have suggested (and I've often pondered the idea myself) that I do away with my lawn altogether so I wouldn't have to worry about mowing. That's not practical in my case, and I really do love my lawn. It makes for a great pitching green and I need all the golf practice I can get. There's other benefits of having a lawn that George Ball talks about in his essay "Lawn Love." I think Mr. Ball is a great writer; he reminds me of those critical theorists we talked about in college (Walk2Write in Florida and other English majors are probably familiar with literary criticism) who discuss such things as structuralism and semiotics, deconstruction and formalism. (I was urged by an English professor to attend graduate school in their lit crit program and probably should have taken him up on the offer.)

As y'all might have noticed, I write about more than just gardening here. I hope it's not too distracting. But you never know, I might decide to discuss the famous Deconstructionist Jacques Derrida and his "There is nothing outside the text" theory in the future.

And now, a few photos:

Common bugleweed
This pretty little wildflower gets a bad rap.


Field of ... grapes? (Dandelion wine)

Drastic measures?

Saturday, May 2, 2009