Taming the Jungle

Today I managed to get a little yard maintenance time in. I went to town. I trimmed back the tomatoes, weed-whacked some parts of the back yard, mowed others, pulled some coreopsis that had gone to seed, severely trimmed back some autumn sage that was dominating, and pulled a heck of a lot of stuff that was growing in the cracks of the brick walkways in back.

I didn’t finish the mowing, and I had wanted to turn the compost piles. But those will have to wait when I’m not on duty with the baby boy. He’s much too young to operate the lawnmower… dammit.

I’d had a conversation with my boss on Friday about tomatoes. He is the son of an Iowa farmer (much as I’m the grandson of an Ohio farmer) and grows a fair number of vegetables successfully. He mentioned that he trimmed the undersides of his tomato vines to remove suckers and to get more air to the center of the plants. Today I followed that model and opened up my plants somewhat. Part of my motivation was to make it easier to find critters. In fact, I’m dead certain now there is a large hornworm in there somewhere. There are droppings everywhere, and some damage… but I’ve yet to find the culprit. Usually they hide in plain sight, even if they are the same color as the plant and try to mimic the stem. The droppings tend to give them away, but this one is being wily.

Another suspicion I’ve had is that all the overgrown stuff in the yard is fostering the mosquito problem I have. Lots of places to hide. I certainly don’t have any standing water, but I have clouds of mosquitoes morning and evening. Unbearable. Hopefully thinning some frostweed and other stuff will help reduce their numbers.

Another big step I took was girdling a mimosa tree that is – as far as I’m concerned – an imported trash tree. It’s starting to shade parts of my vegetable area. Also, it’s rotten at its core and contains some form of ant colony. I’m wondering how long it will take to succumb. Hopefully it’s nothing like the robo-tree I girdled, the Chinese tallow. That damned thing survived a year with some deep girdling. Only when it encountered last Summer’s drought did it finally succumb.

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