Saturday, August 23, 2014

Gardening surprises

Sometimes it seems like every time you solve one problem in the garden, you create a new one in its place. Our asparagus bed is a case in point.

Problem #1: Asparagus prefers a sandy soil, and most of the dirt in our yard is heavy clay.
Solution: Plant the asparagus on the south side of our house, the one spot that has a fair amount of sand.
Problem #2: The asparagus planted in this location has a tendency to flop over when it gets to its tall, ferny stage, obstructing the path from front yard to back.
Solution: drive a stake into the ground on the near end of the asparagus bed, and run several lengths of twine across from that stake to the fence on the other side to hold up the ferns.

Problem #3: The end of that stake is rather sharp, posing the risk of injury to someone who slips and falls onto it.
Solution: Stick an old tennis ball on the end of the stake to blunt it.
Problem #4: Wasps have built a nest inside the old tennis ball. 
Solution: Um....

We discovered this newest problem when Brian pulled the tennis ball off to try and tighten the twine and suddenly there were a bunch of wasps buzzing confusedly around. When he picked up the tennis ball to put it back, he hastily dropped it, seeing that the wasps' nest was actually inside it. (The odd thing is that the wasps, with their home displaced from its usual spot, don't seem to know where to go. Several of them came to rest on the end of the stake where the tennis ball used to be, as if they couldn't quite grasp that the nest wasn't there anymore.)

Brian's idea is that we should just leave the tennis ball where it lies for now, then come back tomorrow and see whether the wasps have decided to go elsewhere. If so, we can just stick the tennis ball back on the stake and forget about it. I'm not optimistic about this, but I have to admit I don't have any better ideas. I don't want to kill the wasps with nasty chemicals (especially since they prey on other insects that are much bigger pests), but I also don't want to go sticking my hand into what they consider their territory. We may end up just having to leave the tennis ball lying there until winter kills off the wasps, at which point we can safely replace it.

Of course, not all surprises that the garden throws at you are unpleasant ones. Shortly after we discovered the wasps' nest, Brian found some Irish moss growing in the cracks of our front walk where he was weeding. I'd bought a couple packets of seeds for this stuff a year or so ago, thinking that if I planted it the cracks of the driveway and sidewalk, it might eventually crowd out the weeds and save us the trouble of pulling them. The instructions on the packet said to "sow seed in cell packs or flats," and then transplant them, but I couldn't figure out any way to transplant anything into such a tiny space, so instead I just did my best to sprinkle the teensy-weensy seeds directly into the cracks. When no green stuff popped up after a few weeks, I assumed the seeds just hadn't taken. And now we discover that some of the stuff actually took root after all. (Of course, the fact that Brian discovered it while weeding means that it hasn't actually crowded out the weeds as I'd hoped it would, but maybe over time it will take over more of the area.)

One thing you can definitely say for gardening as a hobby: it never becomes routine. One way or another, a garden will always be full of surprises.

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