Saturday, April 30, 2011

Saturday in the Garden: Damn Sapsuckers!

I talk to plants by being observant. Recently my Austrian pine has been trying to get my attention. Although evergreen, conifers are greener some times of the year than others. They lose needles just as deciduous trees lose leaves. My Austrian pine has had about 25% more brown needles than I thought would be normal. Today while cleaning out the bed under my pine, I realized why. I found a series of 1/4" ovalish holes in rows like kernels of corn on a cob. I found several sets of these holes. I'm not sure, but maybe enough set at different places up and down and around the trunk that possibly the damn sapsucker may have girdled my tree. It's about 6" in diameter and 15 feet tall-- small enough to remove myself.

But,sob! Is it going to die? That's the question. I probably should try to fill in the holes to prevent depredation by insects and pests. I should attempt to place a barrier on the trunk of the tree to prevent further sap sucking. Sap suckers, or woodpeckers, are protected. Not that dealing with a bird in that manner would even be an option. In this case, though, I am going to attempt to separate the bird from this particular food source. The pine hides my neighbor's hideous garage with its peeling paint from my view.

Among the other deprecations of winter, the "free range" dogs in the are starting to drive me crazy. I have a dog. Faithful Companion is all anyone could desire in a dog. My dog is always on a lease when out of doors. When my dog does her duty, I am there and know where the poo lands. I have a specific area in my yard for my dog to poo. Yet, I find poo EVERYWHERE in my yard. There is nothing more unpleasant than gardening and stepping on poo or sticking your hand into poo when weeding. I have had dogs deposit their poo on top of bird netting placed over my blueberries to protect them from rabbits and in a 18" tall pot that held a bush clematis I grew from seed that had big navy bell-shaped flowers (substantially killing it).

So, I have been looking at my yard with thoughts of how to cut off the canine thoroughfare my yard, a gate across my walk, a low fence around my potager. A section of fence I will be adding to my yard would run directly across my white Japanese peony. I moved it today, a second time.

Today, I also put down black landscape fabric in a 6' by 20' area in my potager to warm the soil. Eventually, I will cut slits to plant a few tomatoes, peppers and melons. These plants like warm soil and hot weather, something of which our area has had very little. My mother who keeps track of all this sort of information, tells me that by last year at this time, we had had 27 days of 60 degree weather. This year, we have had three!

A cold, wet spring, and it is raining again. I worried that the peas I had planted outdoors were going to rot In the ground. They obviously like it cool, and wet. It looks like I am getting good germination.

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