Monday, June 11, 2007

There's A Fungus Among Us

Lots of 'em in fact. At least on our little piece of earth here. Our little micro climate with all the big beautiful trees that surround us, makes for a moist environment and the fungi love it. What do the trees have to do with it? Well, it's not just shade they provide, but they also emit water vapor. This makes for a cooler spot in the summer, yes, and less drying out of plants in drought, yes, but also, lots of fungi, yes. I'm not just talking about those cute little mushrooms that the smurfs live in either, although we do have quite a smurf village going.

Fungi comes in all different forms, and most plants, don't like it. Their leaves wither up and die. No leaves=no plant eventually. And, it just looks ugly. To prevent this, I faithfully spray fungicide every 7-10 days. It works. Not all plants are attacked by fungus, however, my roses and tomatoes are the unfortunate ones that do. Those happen to be the plants I like the most (shhh, don't tell the others, although they probably suspect). So this morning was a fungicide spraying kind of morning. Tomatoes first as they do the most vigorous growing and all the new growth needs spraying. As I'm attending to my tomato plants, I start to think about, my roses which will need to be sprayed next. And I think, "Why did I plant roses? They take so much care." Then I answer myself, "Because I love them. They're beautiful and smell wonderful, it's worth the effort." Satisfied with that and done with tomato spraying, I clomped off in my rubber rain boots, through the dewy wet morning grass, to go see my rose bushes. I use the term "bushes" loosely as many of them are still very small having only been planted this year. I come to the first one, Angel Face, this one's from a couple years ago. The beautiful blooms and buds, at least a half dozen that were there yesterday...gone! Just two petals lay on the ground to one side of the bush, and two hoof prints in the mulch on the other side. Yup, deer hoofs left those indentations.

I quickly move to the next plant, this one only had buds... gone! The neighboring plant, Chicago Peace, had a big beautiful rose, it's gone along with all the little buds.

And on it went down the line. All my buds were gone. I had been so excited yesterday at the new growth on my roses, since the buds had been eaten once before earlier in the season, and now it's all gone. Just like I spray for fungus, I also spray for deer. There are many deer repellent sprays on the market. They seem to work. The only problem is, you must be vigilant. Any new growth that hasn't been sprayed is vulnerable. I should have known better and I should have sprayed last night. That is all part of gardening. Early in the season, last year's lessons have been forgotten, until a giant stomach with four legs wanders by, eats your prize and reminds you of what you already knew.

It's easy to resent the deer when you've just come upon your half eaten plants, but then you see one face to face and it's hard to stay mad. They give you the sad eyes and they look a little fearful. I'll just have to take a page from Morticia Addams book and see the beauty in the headless thorny stems left behind.

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