Slimy. Gross. Yucky. Those are just three words that quickly come to mind when I think about slugs, those slithering, nocturnal gastropods that can ravage everything from hostas to strawberries while we sleep. And yet, while there’s no getting around the fact that they’re both disgusting and destructive, they’re also fascinating creatures. Really they are.
At a press conference in Mexico City last January, scientists cheered when the official eastern monarch butterfly population was announced. And with good reason: The numbers were an impressive 144% increase over the previous year, and the highest recorded since 2006. At the same time, however, it was announced that the California western monarch population had declined by a stunning 86%. So what gives?
I was hiking with my five-year-old grandson not too long ago, and we came upon a large batch of poison ivy. “Leaves of three, let it be,” I said, to which he replied, “Huh?” I’m pretty sure I had the same puzzled look on my face when my grandfather said the same thing to me 60 years ago. But you’re never too young to learn how to recognize poison ivy, and you’re never too old to learn how to get rid of it.
Late last month, I flew to Atlanta to tape a television show with Joe Lamp’l, host of Growing a Greener World on PBS. In addition to the show, Joe has a huge presence on the web, and his website, joegardener.com, is a treasure trove of excellent information. He also offers online gardening courses, cranks out a regular podcast, and is all over social media. So why did he invite me to be on his show?
After a week in the mountains around Santa Fe, with lows in the 50s and highs in the 70s, I was less than excited to return home to sweltering heat and humidity. But then it is the middle of July, after all, so I had no reason to be surprised. After unpacking, I headed out to the garden to water, and that got me to thinking about a number of myths I frequently hear about watering. Seven myths to be exact.
When you sit down to eat, do you ever wonder where the carrots or broccoli or tomatoes on your plate actually came from? Well of course they came from a farm, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about where they came from originally and the paths they took to ultimately wind up here. And along the way, who in the world figured out what was edible and what wasn’t?
Mushrooms have been popping up in lawns all over town, and their presence causes many a homeowner to panic and wonder how best to destroy them – some sort of fungicidal spray or powder, or perhaps a pitching wedge? Well you might be surprised to learn that my approach to dealing with mushrooms in the lawn is much simpler.
It’s safe to assume that in the weeks ahead, it’s gonna get hotter. Probably a whole lot hotter. And that can take some of the fun out of gardening, which is why I tend to get things done early in the morning. But unlike me, a considerable number of plants truly love the heat of summer, and here are some of the best to consider planting now…or at least early in the morning.
Last Sunday morning I headed out to the garden to harvest potatoes, and as I walked past my tomato plants I noticed that they were covered with aphids. Rest assured, I didn’t waste time dealing with them, because aphids can do serious damage by sucking the sap (and the life) out of plants, and they can spread nasty diseases in the process. Worse still, they reproduce at a rate – and in a fashion – that’s truly mind blowing.
Last week I wrote about the need to fertilize plants because all the rain we’ve had lately has leached valuable nutrients out of the soil. This week I’ve got another rain-related issue to discuss, one that poses a serious risk to people, not plants. And that’s mosquitoes, the deadliest animal on the planet.