Saturday, July 25, 2009

What a week!

Maybe I should go back to the beginning of the gardening season and call it what a year! The spring started with odd things like finding 7 mice nests during spring cleanup (in the previous 3 years, I haven't found any), tons of deer droppings in the gardens (none before) and normally hardy plants that had a very rough winter. For instance, the rose of sharon bushes were half dead and half alive - literally a line drawn down the middle and the yuccas were all rotting (they came back from the roots later).
Then came the invasion of insects and weeds that we can't control. The insects -some of which are brand new this year and very little is known about them. (If anyone really cares they can look up lily leaf beetle, viburnum beetle and sawfly larvae but I won't bore you with details). We have been spraying plants all summer with varying amounts of success. Where natural controls are not effective we are removing the plants.
The weeds - In one particular garden we have been dealing with Creeping Bellflower for a year. It apparently takes 3 years to dig it out, it is resistant to herbicides and compounded by the fact it is also on the neighbouring golf course and next door and in her own patio and lawn. The absentee home owner is quite anxious to have her massive gardens weeded, mulched and some of the gardens removed and seeded. All of those take a long time to do - even the mulching which is normally a fast job is complicated by needing to lay down layers of cardboard or newspaper to slow down the bellflower - not stop it as its tenacious tubers can travel under and through driveways. This week she gave us an ultimatum - finish or else and we didn't finish - I figure at least another 3 days are neeeded. What we have done looks amazing but she isn't noticing that - just what isn't done.
Then I discovered Japanese Knotweeed - the godzilla of weeds. It can grow over 8 feet tall and looks like a tree. Since finding it for the first time in a new commercial contract this year we have tried digging it out without success. It grows a foot a week and the roots apparently can be 17 feet deep. Now for the lethal injection. A website suggested injecting each stem with weed killer. Kevin attached an inflating nozzle to a 60 ml syringe and that worked okay the first attempt but was too large and not quite sharp enough. It killed the growth above the injection site but didn't get down to the roots. I tried a smaller, sharper syringe with a real needle and that is when I stabbed myself. The stems are harder now and bent my inflater needle and blocked up the smaller syringe. So I told my boss I needed help. First time in 4 years and she had to come deal with 2 problem properties in one week! Then she asked my opinion on one she was having trouble with so I felt better.
I have spent countless hours of research into these problems this year. There are times when I want to go get a job where I don't have to think.
Sorry for the rambling explanation but now you know why I was using a needle as a gardening tool. And if anybody cares - I am not complaining about the cool summer. I much prefer it to working in 30 degree weather. We have only actually got seriously rained on 3 times so far.


SusanE said...


You're smart. I can't believe what you know.

You didn't bore me, you totally impressed me.

You should get a job working with Ed Laurence on CBC radio. It could be an educated duo rather than just him and a radio announcer.

Lauras Garden said...

Our local radio has Heather (who used to be my boss) come in as their "gardening guru". If she stops I could be their "garden goddess". I don't feel like I know much this summer - I seem to be losing more than winning.

Fiddling Granny said...

Maybe, if next summer is like this one, you could consider becoming a Walmart greeter. You don't have to know so much.

Lauras Garden said...

I was aiming for cashier - that's pretty mindless. But I think I like Wal-Mart greeter even more! Thanks for the idea.