|August 26, 2009|
|Saturday, 10 October 2009 13:47|
by Bob Smith
Have I mentioned how weird the weather has been this year? I don’t think weird is over yet! I’ve never been exposed to a RAINY AUGUST before – well, maybe on Guam when I was a young Marine – I remember digging a trench around the perimeter of our tent so the water would run around our living quarters, instead of through our living area, taking our shoes and other floating stuff with it!
Is this a part of ‘Global Warming’? Our elected officials can’t or won’t agree on hardly anything, except to disagree about EVERYTHING, and how to fix it!
I just reviewed my recent columns to see if I admitted the serious gardening errors I have made – usually I try to find some one else or the weird weather to blame for the problems that develop, while I try to accurately analyze the real reason so I can attempt to prevent that from happening again. Since I am rich, old, and have a bad heart and other necessary organs, why haven’t gorgeous ladies thrown themselves at my feet lately? And I think it is because I accurately mention that Judy, who has nearly the same number of replacement joints and parts as I, still does most of the weeding, harvesting, and other bending and standing-back-up jobs that I have grown to FEAR AND HATE, maybe they do too!
Maybe they don’t think that I appreciate her strenuous labors! I do! I DO! I planned to leave things and money to her and my descendants when I died, but then the recession bomb dropped! I hope the world’s economy recovers, and it seems to be happening. Then I realized I don’t have my affairs totally in order – like when I bought each stock, property, or other investment, and how much I paid. I do know that if I leave some stuff as a result of my death, its cost to them will be the value on that date. If I give them the same stuff now, the cost goes back to what I paid, way back then – and the taxes they will have to pay will be a whole lot more, because the rules have changed! We need to talk to an expert and plan how to best give stuff to people we love, as tax free as possible to them. Maybe you should, too!
The best time to prune trees and shrubs, or divide perennials, is when they are dormant. Now we are harvesting good garden stuff, picking grapes, and soon pears and apples. I have just finished the first correction of, in my opinion, my worst gardening mistake. I admire vine covered outside walls, but didn’t want vines growing into my house or barn’s 1890 wooden walls. My shop had steel walls, so I planted vines along its sunny side. They had nothing to support their climbing, so I thought CHICKEN FENCE!, which I fastened with up nails and washers. Birds loved it! – But! they dropped wild grape and other wild vine seeds, and all grew thickly entwined.
Last year, I noticed frass (bug poop) in my wood shop. I called the same exterminator company I called when I noticed the frass of post pole beetles under the barn beams in the early 1980’s when I bought my farmstead. His son answered the phone, came out, looked at the frass, and said it came from carpenter ants! I asked why he thought that, and he told me he saw carpenter ant parts in the frass, not beetle parts. He went outside, told me I should remove the vines against the outside walls, since it gave carpenter ants a way to climb up to the roof, searching for entry to the wood inside, and pointed to where there had been leaks. Carpenter ants will tunnel through dry wood, but they will live, multiply, and thrive, in wet wood!
He distributed carpenter ant poison, and told me to remove the vines, vacuum up the frass, and if I saw any new frass, to call him. I have never worked harder - kneeling down to cut all the vines at ground level, then climbing up a sixteen foot ladder to remove the nails holding the chicken fence tight to the walls to support the vines would have been a lot easier 20 years ago – at least I remember no pain installing them, and it only took one day to put them up – it took weeks to weakly and painfully get them down!
I hope neither you nor I find any new frass in the future of our. . . good gardening