Sunday, July 27, 2008

Embarrassing Weed Story by Carol King

Every gardener probably has an embarrassing weed story. An exotic plant pops up and is nurtured and later turns out to be a musk thistle. Or the new house has some gorgeous plant that resembles a sedum and is really myrtle spurge (on list A of the Noxious Weed Act of Colorado). The “morning glory” growing up the rake you left in the garden is not a piece of yard art but instead a neglected tool covered with bind weed!
My most embarrassing weed story to date happened last summer. I always let the sunflowers that pop up from feeding the birds grow, no matter where they are. It adds a sense of randomness to the garden that I like. Several came up in the front garden and started to grow, and grow, and grow. I knew they were going to be giant mammoth sunflowers; the kind that wins prizes and ends up in pictures of largest grown produce; next to the 1,000 pound pumpkin. I envisioned receiving the purple grand champion ribbon and could read the headlines: “Area Woman Grows World’s Largest Sunflower”.
All summer, I watered and fed my plants and was encouraged by the large leaves, the glossy green color and the height, my goodness the height. Toward the end of July, they actually grew taller than the eaves of the house and then flower buds appeared and did not look at all like sunflowers. I looked closely and saw that the leaves on my giant plants did not exactly match the leaves on the other sunflowers in the garden. I had the uneasy feeling that these might not be sunflowers at all.
Sure enough, research proved that my prize plants were Ambrosia trifida; and yes it is a member of the sunflower family (Asteraceae). I say this to redeem myself for feeding, watering, and tending giant ragweed all summer. At least I discovered my mistake before it bloomed. Each plant has the ability to produce about a billion grains of pollen. And because it is the greatest allergen of all pollens and the main cause of hay fever in North American, my three lovingly attended plants would have garnered the headline: “Area Woman Causes Sneezing, Runny Nose, and Itchy Eyes in Major Population Area”. And no purple grand champion ribbon either.

Preparing to Eradicate Giant Ragweed

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Gotta Find a Home by Carol King

Let me tell ya a story about a hollyhock weevil: The gardener said to the weevil ”I see you’re on the square” Weevil said to the gardener, “yep my whole family’s there…..lookin for a home, gotta find a home.” The weevil said to the gardener”you better sell your machines, cause when I’m through with your hollyhocks you can’t even buy gasoline”. My apologies to Brook Benton but when ya got hollyhock weevils eating up your hollyhocks, ya gotta sing this song!

The hollyhock weevil is a strange looking bug that has a beak or a snout protruding from its head. If it were bigger, it would be one scary dude. I had to look closely at the blossom area (all eaten of course) to see them. In researching my hollyhock problem, I discovered that there are over 400 species of weevils in Colorado alone with 40,000 species worldwide. And I also discovered this bit of trivia: if every species of animal and plant were placed next to each other in a line, every 10th animal would be a weevil. And, yes, they are ALL looking for a home.

I used some organic insect killing soap which took care of some of them and then I thumped some of them off with my finger. The hollyhocks look really ratty but maybe I will still get a few blooms. In the meantime, if anything you have is being eaten up by something, go look, and if it’s got a snout you got weevils. Roses, rhubarb, sunflowers, strawberries, almost everything has its own special weevil.

Here’s some great information about weevils: