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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Little did I know

That sunlight slanting in through the window took half the day to get here and maybe about an hour to retreat. As I sit down to write, it is with a little trepidation. You see, while I try to blog about pleasing things, what I'm about to present you is not so. Pleasant, that is....
WARNING: This blog post is not for the faint-hearted. Sensitive persons should consider carefully before reading any further.
Now, don't say I didn't warn you. Today I'm going to talk about:
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Garden Pests
I do not like spiders and snakes. I do not like anything that celebrates evil and darkness. I do not crave blood and gore.
Little did I suspect that if I were to dabble in gardening that I would be tempting ugly and creepy-crawly critters to share my world with me. Let me explain:
Do you see this herb planter? This is the one I bought on Columbus Day, and gradually this week I noticed in a peripheral sort of way as I rushed by it, that it was beginning to look, well, consumed. And in retrospect, I think that the air was singed with the scent of sage, rather noticeably, more than it had been in the week or so after I put it in the sunny dining room window.
And on closer inspection, I saw a lot of dirt on the carpet. I blamed Tammy and Tucker, thinking they had been nosing around in the pot, maybe even stirring up that sage scent.



On even closer inspection, I thought that the distribution of the dirt on the carpet didn't really look the way the usual puppy messes do. A little too evenly scattered, not clumped together, etc. I felt like a CSI investigator, brought in to analyze blood spatter. (See, I warned you this post would be icky.)
And then there was this finding: not a good picture because it is filled in with fallen leaves, but there is a largish hole dug in the ground beside one of the new David Austin roses. I know this happened in the last week and I know it was perpetrated by a rather large Cocker Spaniel. I know this because a rather large Cocker Spaniel tracked mud into my home one day after it had been raining. He smelled suspiciously of RoseTone and required immediate bathing. (And the kitchen floor required immediate mopping.)
But while the canine(s) is (are) definitely to blame for the rose-bush vandalism, I discovered that the true culprits for the holes in the sage leaves and the dirt on the carpet were not he (they). It was something way more sinister, and definitely not for the squeamish.Eeeeeeeewwwwww!
These are just a few of the inchworms I pulled off the undersides of the sage leaves.
After I took this picture, I pulled off at least 6 more, and man, do I hope I found them all. One had encased itself in a bit of a woolly coccoon, and when I dropped it in with the others, they attacked it. I'm shuddering...
And I figured out that the dirt on the carpet? Worm Poop! Are you grossed out yet?

So now, this fuzzy little culprit doesn't seem so bad anymore. (She is actually the undersize Cocker Spaniel, who was not responsible for the rose bush fiasco, but is guilty enough of other things that it isn't completely inappropriate to characterize her as a culprit.)
But like children, she looks sweet and innocent when asleep.
So, I set about trimming away all the damaged leaves on the sage, harvested the most overgrown parsley for the rabbit, culled out the dead chives, did nothing to the thriving rosemary and turned the pathetic half-dead thyme into the sunshine, vacuumed up the worm poop and gave the planter a generous watering.
When I cleared away a good bit of the vegetation, I found the care tags pushed deep into the dirt, all clumped together, and almost buried in the dense foliage understory of sage and parsley.
I washed them up and now will be able to consult them to gain a little insight into what I should be doing to keep the herbs growing.
So, here it is, you can see the little bitty bit of thyme just above where the rosemary is in the left of the pot. Next to it is a heuchera (Coral Bells), called Key Lime Pie. I was so taken by the yellow/chartreuse of the foliage! There were 4 there and I bought all of them, and 3 are now around the lamp-post, but I'm not sure where to put this 4th one. I'm hoping it will winter over in the dining room, and by Spring I'll know where to put it. It may just end up being a replacement if one of the lamp-post ones doesn't make it through the winter.
So, all's well that ends well, right?
Not so fast..... you can only see it in the above picture in retrospect, but....
There was one more icky-yucky worm that had coccooned onto the chest of drawers! I nearly screamed. But I pulled myself together and got a tissue and plucked it off. It was so fat that even with my light touch, it burst and bled out its green lymph. I flushed it, shuddering all over.
Then I had to have a sit-down and a cup of tea.
And that, my friends, is my Halloween horror story.......
On a more pleasing note, here is the last of the white lobelia I had in my urns this summer. Should I pot it up and bring it in and see what it does in the coming months? We're supposed to have a hard frost tonight, so I filled in the rose-bush hole (with more Rose-Tone, I know, I know....) and put a lot of fallen leaves around the crowns of all three. I'll have to get more serious soon and really get them covered and protected. Stay cozy!

6 comments:

Laura Ingalls Gunn said...

Totally blood curdeling and horrific indeed.

I have often purchased a plant at a store and got more than I bargined for. :)

Rosy Inspiration said...

Oh, boy, that was even more horrors than a horror movie. My daughter planted brocolli, and those green critters just love hiding under the leaves eating all the goodness out of the plant. I can squish aphids with my bare hands, but I need gloves on for those icky juicy caterpillars.

acorn hollow said...

I love to garden hate the bugs. I thought I would follow along with you I am in NH. We have already had a couple of hard frosts. I have had a hard time with herbs in the winter. Not enough light.
cathy

red_scorpion_219 said...

I believe it's a unfair and prejudiced to immediately associate snakes and spiders as evil things. They are seen as evil, because we humans have branded them as such for many generations. Do they actively seek to attack and kill us? Isn't that what a fundamental part of evil is, this reasonless malice that they so happen to lack?

Can the snake help it? How else can they attack and defend themselves in a world that could easily kill their armless, legless bodies?

The spiders would be more terrified of you - what lasting damage could a little jumping spider do against a human?

You forget that these two examples play a big part in our ecosystem, devouring the real horrors that would do costly damage to our food and belongings. Rats, flies, you name it. I find it very easy to imagine the snakes and spiders laughing at the sight of a screaming human running away from them.

You should try and hold a snake when you get the oppotunity at an animal fair, see their graceful side. I don't have a pet snake, but perhaps one day. Tl;dr, they're beautiful.

I look forward to a response, if any.

Laurie Ann said...

As an avid gardener, I find this post hysterical! I have run into every known form of pest and vermin in the Northeast. I find the silently, sneaky snakes to be the scariest even though I do appreciate all their good deeds in the garden.

As for caterpillars. A few years ago, we had a horrible infestation of tent caterpillars in Upstate NY. All my apple trees were devoured as were my prize Japanese maples. The house, sidewalks and driveway were covered. You couldn't take a step without cringing. Sorry. But the worst was the sound, this constant tapping as if it were drizzling. People assumed it was the caterpillars chewing. Alas, it was not.

Laurie Ann said...

As an avid gardener, I find this post hysterical! I have run into every known form of pest and vermin in the Northeast. I find the silently, sneaky snakes to be the scariest even though I do appreciate all their good deeds in the garden.

As for caterpillars. A few years ago, we had a horrible infestation of tent caterpillars in Upstate NY. All my apple trees were devoured as were my prize Japanese maples. The house, sidewalks and driveway were covered. You couldn't take a step without cringing. Sorry. But the worst was the sound, this constant tapping as if it were drizzling. People assumed it was the caterpillars chewing. Alas, it was not.