Thursday, August 9, 2007

Missteps & Mix Ups

Silver Queen Corn not far from time for picking, my favorite Sungold tomatoes, Artichokes snipped for dinner.

Things have been moving along rapidly in the garden lately. We have a bountiful supply of tomatoes and cucumbers. Corn is filling out it's cobs. Artichokes are budding out. Squashes are flowering. Things are happening! There's a lot I could be writing about. I have blog topics aplenty in my head, waiting to be unleashed through my fingers, to the keyboard, and out to the world. Are you there world? Are you reading this? Who knows. Maybe my ramblings are just drifting off out there in the cyber ether. I haven't made the time to blog lately. Part of that has to do with losing half a day this week to a benadryl induced snooze.

Tuesday, seemed like a good day to do my spraying. The gardens were way overdue for fungicide and fruit tree spray. I did my fungicide spray in the veggie garden first. It was pretty uneventful and I got the job done with relative ease. Then as my routine dictates, I leave the veggie garden and go spray the roses next. I walked through my side garden where my flowers reside. My rubber boots crunched on the gravel path as I attempted to walk quickly on it. The faster I try to walk, the harder it is to get going, and I remember that this path was not meant for walking fast. It was put there so that I could slow down and listen to the pleasing sound of the crunching gravel and take a look at my plantings. So I deliberately slow down my pace a notch. I continue down the path spraying any roses along the way, and out onto the grassy front lawn, spray/walk, spray/walk, spray/walk. I hear a buzz in my ear and shake my pony tail at it, giving it no more thought. Spray/walk/buzz, spray/walk/buzz, spray/walk/buzz.

Next up, is the fruit tree spray. I go to the garage, put away the fungicide sprayer and get out the hose end fruit tree spray applicator, a measuring cup, and the jug of home orchard spray. Measure out the appropriate amount, mix in the right amount of water, twist on top, and walk through the side garden again, this time to get to the front yard to the apple and peach tree. I hear a buzz again in my ear. Disregard it. Unroll the hose, drag it out to the trees, attach hose end sprayer, and spray trees liberally. It's a pretty quick job and I'm finished speedily. Walk back through the side garden toward the crabappple tree. Buzz, buzz, buzz. I turn my head to look at it and think, "Hmm, a wasp. Nothing unusual there. Good thing he didn't sting me on my face when I swung my ponytail at him."

I always do the crabapple tree last because I use up the remaining spray on the tree. It's a large tree with two trunks. Just the night before, I noticed a big crack in the left trunk. We're going to have to cut that off. I thought that the tree will probably look funny missing half of it's width. Maybe we should just take the whole thing down. It's a bother to take care of, I have to spray it so it doesn't get devoured by insects. But... hubby and I both feel bad to take down a tree at all. When the arborist was here talking to me about my trees, when we moved in a couple years ago, he completely glossed over the crabapple tree, "Oh that thing?" But that thing, makes pretty flowers in the spring. It's a big source of food for the squirrels and deer. It gives them something to eat other than my beautiful plantings and my prized tomato crops. So I've been taking care of it. This year it produced it's biggest, nicest looking crop of crabapples yet. Taking care of it is paying off in apples. Those lucky squirrels.

Crabapples aplenty weighing down this poor tree.

I do my routine quickly as I've gotten it down by now. Unroll hose, attach sprayer, commence spraying. See? It's not hard. I already have the fruit tree spray out and mixed up, might as well spray the crabapple tree. How much more work is that? First I do the left side, the side that's hanging on, but would reach the ground the next day. Then as I look up at the tree examining where I have sprayed and where I need to spray next, it happens. I stepped into an in-ground wasp nest. I didn't notice at first what I had done, but then I felt a pinch/prick on my... ahem derriere. What the...? I turn my head and look. Ack! There's wasps on me! Many wasps! I have chills now just thinking about it. I did exactly what you're not supposed to do. I screamed, dropped my hose, and ran. I ran toward the house. Looked again, "They're still there! What to do? What do I do?" Pinch/prick, pinch/prick, pinch/prick. I wanted them off of me and fast. Clarence was on the back patio and ran away. I don't blame him. So I did the only thing I could think of to do. I quickly pulled my pants off, got in the house, and kicked my boots and pants outside with wasps wrapped inside, shut the door. Safe now.

Gosh that was scary. I took some benadryl to ward off the allergic reaction of the venom, took a shower to calm down, and got some ice packs. I had three areas to tend to, back of my calf, front of my thigh, and the afore mentioned other area. Each with multiple wounds. Soon I was in a stupor half way between sleep and wake. Then unable to keep my eyes open, I drift off to sleep.

I awoke later, calmed down, and now growing angry at those... those... things! How dare they! So hubby did his spousal duty, he destroyed the wasp nest and it's inhabitants. They didn't go easily. It took two tries and two days, but now, they are no more. Sure we still have stray wasps flying around, but not en masse, swarming by a hole in the ground. Turns out, the nest is next to a rotting tree trunk, left there by the previous owner. The roots underground rotted and left a cavity under the grassy edge of our back woods, that was perfect for a wasp home.

Gardening is not all pretty pictures, that's for sure. It's filled with gaffs, and mistakes, and missteps. But sometimes, most of the time, it's really a joy. That's coming from me just two days after being attacked by wasps. I want to reiterate, these were wasps not bees. My big fuzzy bee friends would not do that to me. We coexist peacefully. I plant extra flowers to make them happy. They pollinate my veggies. Everyone's happy.

A fruit of my labor, but what exactly is this tomato?

And while I'm at it. While I'm exposing the sad tale of my fruit tree maintenance, I might as well share another tragedy. Well, not really a tragedy. Just a mix up. Seems what I thought was Cherokee Purple tomato seed was not in fact, Cherokee Purple tomato seed. I had a suspicion as it grew that something just wasn't right. The growth habit of the overall plant seemed too short. Much shorter than the other indeterminate plants, at only 3 feet. Then it's tomatoes, they were round and small, at about 3.5 ounces. Cherokee purple is supposed to be oblate, a bit ruffled, and much larger. I waited for them to grow bigger. Then they started a ripening, uh, red tomatoes? No. Nope. This is not Cherokee Purple. Can't be. I started researching and sure enough, others had gotten this same seed from this seed source, with the same results. So it wasn't just one rogue crossed seed that made it into the packet. Oh boo hoo. I really was looking forward to Cherokee Purple. It's so disappointing when you believe you are going to get a certain variety. You buy the seeds. You plant them indoors at the dead of winter. You nurture them for months, four months and then some, with anticipation and visions of purple tomatoes dancing in your head and... and... and then let down. Not the right thing. It is not to be. Maybe next year. Better luck next year.

Not Cherokee Purple and not going to be in my garden next year.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great post as always. I get shivers thinking about the mass of wasps that I could see when spraying them. BTW, Sevin on a hose end sprayer does a good job of taking care of an in-ground wasp nest. It takes a few hours, but does work.