Six on Saturday: Gophers and Weeds

 

Both have been very active all spring. Some of the sneakiest have been getting away with their activity unobserved.

1. This is a fifteen foot tall camellia, or what remains of it. For comparison, that is a six foot long bench it is laying on. It still looks green and healthy, but started leaning. Upon closer examination, I found that it was not rooted to the ground. It pulled right out! The roots were almost completely gone! There was no indication that there was a problem.P90615

2. This is what remained of the root system. Gophers ate through just about everything that was sustaining and supporting the big camellia above. No excavation or gopher mounds were observed. The area around the camellia was obscured by Algerian ivy. This all happened faster than the camellia could express symptoms associated with such damage.P90615+

3. ‘Kramer’s Supreme’. More specifically, “Award Winning – ‘Kramer’s Supreme’ – Camellia japonica – Trade Mark Registered”. Someone should have removed the label before it damaged the stem it was attached to. Actually, the long dead stem was stubbed just a few inches above the upper margin of this picture. It doesn’t matter now anyway.P90615++

4. This big mound of greenery is all a single big weed, perennial pea. I put it next to the wheel for comparison of size. It grew in a newly landscaped area where we did not expect such big weeds to grow so quickly. It did not seem to be as big as it is, so was easily ignored. Why didn’t gophers eat this instead of the now dead camellia above?!P90615+++

5. As you can almost see in the bad picture, perennial pea is not an unsightly weed. It also lays low and fits into the landscape in such a manner that it is easy to ignore while targeting more obtrusive weeds elsewhere. That is how the specimen in the picture above got so big. This one is not nearly as big, but overwhelmed a few smaller perennials.P90615++++

6. Perennial pea flowers are quite pretty. If possible, I like to let them bloom before pulling them up. Most look like these. Some bloom with fluffier double flowers. Some are lighter pink. A few are darker purplish. White is quite rare. As prolific as they are where they are not wanted, they are surprisingly unreliable from seed sown where actually desired.P90615+++++

This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:

https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/six-on-saturday-a-participant-guide/

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Thistle

60323Some of the biggest and nastiest weeds are thistles. The most common is annual sowthistle, which can get taller than four feet in just a few months. It is relatively easy to handle, since the bristly foliage and stems are somewhat soft, almost like coarse lettuce. Blessed milkthistle is much nastier, with sharp foliar spines that can penetrate boots! It can get more than five feet tall and broad!

Most thistles are biennials or perennials, with spiny lobed foliage. They produce low foliar rosettes during their first year, and then bolt and bloom on tall floral stalks during their second year. Biennials usually die after bloom, but sometimes regenerate from the roots later. Perennials are more likely to regenerate and bloom annually for several years. Some thistles get rather shrubby.

The roots of many types of thistle would not be too difficult to pull from well watered soil if only the spiny foliage were not so difficult to handle. Larger plants might be easier to pry out with a shovel. If foliage is merely cut off at the the surface of the soil, it will regenerate from the large tap roots left below. However, cutting down flower stalks before bloom interferes with seed dispersion.

Pull Weeds Before They Seed

60323thumbSpring brings out the best and the worst in the garden. While warm season annuals and vegetables are getting established, so are a variety of weeds. Just like other annuals and perennials, they respond to the changing weather. Cool weather and moisture stratified their seed through winter. Warming moist soil prompts germination. Warm and sunny spring weather promts rapid growth.

There are all sorts of weeds. A few are big trees like bluegum eucalyptus and shamel ash. Some are substantial shrubbery, like privet and cotoneaster. Pampas grass and giant reed are big grassy perennials. The most familiar and prolific weeds are annuals or small perennials, like foxtail, burrclover, purslane, bindweed, sowthistle, pimpernel, spurge, crabgrass and Bermudagrass.

It is best to pull weeds as soon as they are big enough to grab onto. It will take more effort to pull them as they disperse their roots, and as the soil gets drier through spring. Unwanted shrubbery and tree weeds should be pulled like any other weed because they are likely to regenerate from roots if merely cut down. Once they recover and grow more, they will be much more difficult to pull.

Many small grassy weeds can be cut down low with a weed whacker, instead of pulled out completely. In some situations, low cut or mown weeds are better than bare soil. Some types of weeds will neither bloom nor disperse seed if mown. However, many types adapt to mowing by merely blooming and seeding lower. Dandelion and foxtail are notorious for their defiance to mowing.

Weeds are very efficient and creative with the dispersion of their seed. It is impossible to prevent seeds from coming into the garden from the outside. Yet, it is still best to inhibit the production and dispersion of seed from within the garden. Spurge and oxalis bloom and disperse seed in secret before they seem to be mature enough to bloom. Other weeds have taller or more prominent blooms that can be cut down before producing seed, even if the weeds are not actually removed completely.

Weeds Obviously Grow Like Weeds

90306thumbNot many of our favorite plants grow like weeds. We must help most of them along, and give them what they want. A few might naturalize and perform well on their own, but if they do too well and become aggressive or invasive, they too become known as weeds. Although we might prefer some of our favorites to be easier to grow, we are probably fortunate that more do not do too well.

Conversely, not many weeds are appealing plants when they invade our gardens. They might not be so disdainful if they provided fruit, vegetables or flowers, or were less aggressive with other plants. Instead, the conquer and occupy useful space, consume resources, and then toss their seed for the next invading generation. Their aggressive invasiveness is what makes them weeds.

There is no easy definition of ‘weed’. We know them only as unwanted plants, or plants where they are not wanted. Most are exotic (nonnative) plants that were once imported at a time when they were actually desirable. Some were vegetable or flowering plants grown in home gardens. Some were forage crops. Blue gum eucalyptus was imported for wood pulp. A few weeds are native.

Weeds become weeds because they have distinct advantages. Most get an early start at the end of winter, while other plants are still dormant. Then, many weeds bloom and toss seed for the next generation earlier than other plants. Many lack the pathogens of their homelands. Weeds generally survive on less resources, or complete their life cycles before resources are exhausted.

Most weeds are annuals. Many are perennials, Some are shrubby or vining. A few are trees. One commonality is that they should be pulled as soon as they are big enough to get a grip on. They are easier to pull while the soil is moist from winter rain, and before they have dispersed their roots much. Some of the short term annuals are pretty quick and sneaky about dispersing seed too!

Weeds that are woody shrubs, vines or trees need to get pulled like the rest. If merely cut to grade, they will likely regenerate from their stumps, and need to be dug later.

Horridculture – WEED! (but not a sequel)

 

Although relevant to the same disdainful weed that I wrote about earlier in https://tonytomeo.com/2018/10/24/horridculture-weed/ this article is about a completely different topic. That is why it is not a sequel. Nor is it a rant. It is instead an explanation of why so many of us choose to not use marijuana. It was written by an admired colleague who has much more experience with such matters than I do, and is therefore much more qualified to write about it. So, for today, I will deviate from standard procedure by refraining from my typical Wednesday rant, and by posting an article written by someone else. In fact, you can ignore the title above. This article below already has one.

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Should the followers of Christ use Cannabis? J.S.Wilkinson 2016

Cannabis seems to keep coming up in conversations people around me are having. Watching the current trends of well-meaning people giving themselves to substances that have been historically questionable brings me to the place where I must share my experience and my research.

Just because the government has made something legal doesn’t make that thing permissible. There’s a lot of examples I could cite … and I’ve been around long enough to know that “all that glitters is not gold”. I’m also one to say “the good is the enemy of the best”. Why settle for something counterfeit when you could have the genuine article?

Classically, the followers of Christ get there cues from the Scriptures, when debating whether or not an action or indulgence is permissible; but as we all know everything is subjective, even the meanings of the Scriptures. And we have seen how something written can be taken out of context and made to fit either side of an argument.

I have worked in one of the most prestigious medical centers in the world (for decades) and I’ve had the good favor to meet some of the top minds in, for example, pain research. I asked the senior research doctor of the “Pain-Clinic” “What do you think of medical marijuana?” He chuckled and said, “There is only one reason why anybody would want to use marijuana. It gets you stoned!” He went on to explain that the current trend of marijuana use in “medicine” was a direct result of the agenda to legalize the drug. He said that cannabis has no analgesic property, and the effect of using it only makes the user “complacent” (as well as stoned) “They no longer care they’re in pain” but the pain is not relieved! This particular Hospital has a strict no cannabis policy. Patients with “Medical Marijuana” cards are not permitted to bring their “Prescription” marijuana into the hospital with them. Psychiatric patients are dropped from treatment if it’s found they are using marijuana, even with a Doctor’s prescription. Here’s my question; if marijuana is so well thought of, why isn’t it universally adopted by the medical community? I’m sure the conspiracy crowd could run for miles with that one…

What do the scriptures say? The English word ‘pharmacy’ is clearly derived from a group of Greek words used to describe pagans (the dark arts) who used potions to encourage hallucinations for contacting the spirit world. The particular word ‘pharmakia’ found in Revelation 9:21, 18:23, 21:8 and 22:15 refers to Sorcerers. Please note: NOT ALL DRUGS ARE BAD! Followers of Christ are admonished not to practice sorcery or witchcraft, so it seems to go without saying that we should not be using drugs that are used in Pagan rituals and in Sorcery.

Let’s take a look at what spiritual practices have historically used marijuana in an entheogenic context – from Wikipedia:

According to the TeenWitch.com website “religious cannabis use occurs or has occurred in many of the world’s largest religions: Ancient Egyptian, Asatru (Norse), Assyrian, Australian (Aboriginal) , Babylonian, Bantu, Brazilian (Tribal), Buddhism, Canaanite, Celtic Druidism, Chinese (various), Dagga, Essenses, Etruscan, Gypsy (including Tarot), Hellinism (Greek), Hermeticism, Hinduism, Hottentot, Kemetic (ancient Egyptian), Mithraism, Persian, Polynesian, Pygmy, Rastafarian, Roman, Shamanic/Tribal religion, Shintoism, Sufi Islam, Tantra, Taoism, Thai, Theraputea, Wicca, Witchcraft, Zoarastrianism, and Zulu.

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Here’s another great question: Is marijuana OK from a spiritual point of view?

This following quote is from a very astute article I found while researching this subject…

This might sound a bit strange, but the aura quality of marijuana smokers is sticky, fuzzy, and open to entities.”

In this lengthy article from Cosmic Living, the author explains the many deceptions that play out in the minds of marijuana users, especially noting the presence of “entities”

Even the people in New Thought modalities are aware that someone or something is getting access to their souls when they open themselves with marijuana use!

My personal experience:

I first started using cannabis in 1970 at age 13. I began to fall away from my faith in Christ, and began to explore alternate spiritual realities. By the time I was 17 I had been introduced to several modalities including Native American Shamanism. This resulted in some very real and very serious trials of my faith in Christ, and the reality of alternate spiritual dimensions. When I turned 18 I attempted to quit all drug use and follow the way of Christ with a renewed zeal. Trying to do this on my own, without the indwelling presence (of the fullness) of the Holy Spirit proved to be too much for me. When I relapsed I felt so condemned that I proceeded to run long and hard away from God.

When I came to my senses 5 years later, I renewed my relationship with God through Christ. The very night I was to be given the full infilling of the Holy Spirit, I laid my marijuana out on the table before me and prayed; God, if you want me to stop using this, you could make it so it doesn’t affect me anymore (the chicken way out) or you could make it so I hate it and no longer find pleasure in it! I went off to my youth group meeting where the cheerful followers of Christ asked if anyone would like to be “Baptized in the Holy Spirit” I checked in with God and he said “you want that”…

After having the fullness of the Holy Spirit imparted to me, I no longer enjoyed the feeling I got from cannabis, the euphoria was replaced with a sense of dread and loathing. I was painfully aware of how I chose to leave the presence of the Holy Spirit by breathing in the marijuana. It was then that the Holy Spirit revealed to me that I had in fact invited a “familiar spirit” into my reality and Holy Spirit would not share my temple with another god! This happened in 1980, no one I met was teaching on this subject, it seemed to be common sense that followers of Christ don’t use marijuana. Here I am 36 years later, living in a time when even the elect are being deceived. Good friends and family members are at odds with me because I won’t back down.

If you feel that you would like to experience the freedom and fullness of the indwelling Holy Spirit and you’re ready to say goodbye to your cannabis friend, we can help you! J.S.Wilkinson

Unplanned Green Roof

p90106The last green roof that I wrote about was planned, although not in a typical manner. https://tonytomeo.com/2017/11/25/green-roof/ It is still my favorite green roof. Otherwise, I am none too keen on the fad. Very few buildings benefit from green roofs, and green roofs really do take more work than conventional landscapes in the ground.

The sort of green roof pictured here was most certainly not planned. It could have been the result of a an uncleaned gutter. All sorts of weeds can grow in the damp debris that can wash off of roofs, particularly in damp and foggy coastal climates where moisture so often drips from the edges of roofs. This gutter is just a short distance from the beach in Santa Cruz. The willows in the San Lorenzo River are next door.

Knowing what I know about this particular type of willow, I would guess that the cleanliness of the gutter, or lack thereof, was not really the problem. These aggressive willows can germinate in the slightest bit of debris, even under a single leaf that did not get rinsed or blown away fast enough. Once germinated, their finely textured roots are experts at clinging to anything that might otherwise get rinsed away. If there is not enough debris and dirt for them to grow in, they simply collect their own. Now that it has started the process, it will continue to collect debris and expand its root system until it gets removed or ruins the gutter. It seems to have already collected enough debris to share with a few grassy weeds nearby. It is mostly dormant now, and might have defoliated in the rain since this pictures was taken a few days ago. However, if it stays, it will resume aggressive growth as winter ends.

Horridculture – WEED!

0Q: What do I spray on may medicinal marijuana plants to kill mealybug?
A: Roundup.
This solutions takes care of two problems at the same time; the mealybug infestation as well as the weed that it is growing on! Cutting the weed at the base and simply discarding it is just as effective and even more practical because it does not involve a toxic, environmentally controversial, and expensive chemical herbicide. The best option is to simply not grow weed in the first place.
I am a horticulturist. I love what I do. I love plants. However, I do not worship them.
When I grew citrus trees back in the early 1990s, I happened to enjoy all sorts of rare and unusual citrus fruit that grew on the trees that we grew. However, there were no citrus themed clothing, jewelry, accessories, home furnishings or tattoos. There was no overly indulgent or theatrical manner of consuming the fruit with fancy blown glass utensils designed for doing so, or a traditional technique of taking a piece and passing the rest around. I enjoyed citrus and got on with my life. Yes, I enjoyed growing citrus AND I had a life.
I realize that almost all of those who use marijuana medicinally do so responsibly. That is fine. Keep it out of my way. I am no more interested in smelling it, seeing it, or fleeing the smoke, than anyone else is interested in sharing my prostate medication. I find it to be quite objectionable and offensive.
It would not be so objectionable if those who use it excessively would not so predictably assume that I am a horticulturist because I grow it! Again, there is more to life and the flora of the world than WEED! If you are a stoner, wastoid or burnout because of your reverence for pot, do not recommend that I should try it! It is not as if you are a good example of the attributes of WEED!

Tree of Heaven

50923‘A Tree Grows In Brooklyn’ documents the resiliency and invasiveness of the common but typically undesirable tree of Heaven, Ailanthus altissima. Once a single female tree get established, the extremely prolific seeds get everywhere, including cracks in concrete. The resulting seedlings conquer wherever they are not dug out. If cut down, they just resprout from the roots.

Male trees smell horrible while blooming for about a month in spring or summer. They are pollinated by flies, so naturally smell like what flies like. The tiny yellowish or tan flowers hang on panicles that can be a foot and a half long. Female blooms are not as big, prolific or objectionably fragrant. However, stems, leaves and all other parts of both genders smell rotten when handled.

Tree of Heaven, which has earned the alternative names of ‘tree of Hell’, ‘stink tree’, ‘ghetto elm’ and ‘ghetto palm’, is no longer a tree that gets planted by choice. It is typically a tree that plants itself, and on rare occasion, happens to grow into a good situation. They should not be allowed to overwhelm more desirable trees, or get too close to concrete or other damageable features.

Young trees grow very fast to about forty feet tall. Older and slower trees do not get much taller, although sheltered trees can get twice as tall, with elegant gray bark. They do not live much more than fifty years. The big pinnately compound leaves are surprisingly pretty. On vigorous shoots, individual leaves can get as long as two and a half feet, with leaflets as long as six inches.

ICK!

P80915K.JPGJust about everything in this picture is icky! This species of pampas grass, Cortaderia jubata, is one of the most aggressive and noxious of the invasive exotic specie that have naturalized here. It seems to be incarcerated behind the weathered cyclone fence with barbed wire on top. The big water tank is is a harshly stark background. The tired old Douglas firs and ponderosa pines to the left and right seem to be unhappy here. The small coast live oak that is at least trying to make a more cheerful appearance is only oppressed by the surroundings. Only the clear blue sky above lacks the ick factor.

What is not visible in the picture is that there is no other flora in the area. Most of the area is covered with a thick layer of gravel to prevent vegetation from getting established close to the water tank. Weeds that manage to grow get cut down regularly. Only the pampas grass survives the ravages of the weed eater. It has been allowed to stay only because it has not yet been perceived to be a problem. It will probably be removed eventually as well. It would have been much easier to remove before it got so big. Now that it is blooming, it is likely to sow seed for more of the same.

Whomever gets the grim task of removing the pampas grass must contend with the nasty ‘razor grass’ foliage. The very sharp and very finely serrated edges of each leaf cause the worst sort of paper cuts! Even if handled very carefully, the long strap leaves have a way of getting everywhere. Someone tugging the base of the foliage with gloves and long sleeves can lose an ear to just one of the many long leaves that whip around so aimlessly.

However, someone who is unfamiliar with the serious nastiness of pampas grass might see this picture very differently. The firs, pines and oaks are not so bad. The water tank is a neutral background to the subject matter. The weathered cyclone fence with barbed wire on top, . . . well, let’s just say, . . . it’s ‘abstract’. Anyway, to someone who does not know better, the fluffy floral plumes of pampas grass that toss so many seed that have the potential to grow into an indefinite supply of the same nastiness are actually quite pretty.P89015K+.JPG

Scarlet Pimpernel

P80826It is pretty but pervasive. Actually, I do not really find scarlet pimpernel to be all that appealing, but this is how someone who reads my gardening column in the Santa Ynes Valley News describes it. Embarrassingly, she requested that I discuss scarlet pimpernel while it was more of a problem back on June 7, but I only recently read the message. By now, it is already dying back for autumn, and is completely deteriorated in dry and hot exposed areas. It will be back next spring, and will bloom with tiny peachy orange flowers so that it can throw tiny but ridiculously abundant seed by summer before anyone notices. Flowers can be other colors in other regions. The sprawling stems can spread more than a foot wide, and can get up to about ten inches high if sprawling over other weeds. The tiny and soft leaves are arranged in opposing pairs. Scarlet pimpernel may not seem like much of a threat now that it is deteriorating, but new seedlings will be profuse early next spring, and can compete with seedlings of more desirable plants.
Control of scarlet pimpernel is not easy. If application of herbicide is an option, it does not stick to the foliage of scarlet pimpernel very well, even with a wetting agent. Hoeing eliminated larger plants, but does not kill the seed that the larger plants have already tossed. Scarlet pimpernel starts throwing seed so early that it must be pulled as soon as it appears in very early spring. Like I said, it is not easy. The small plants are not even easy to see. The process must be repeated at least weekly for a while, just because some seedlings will emerge after the first batch is gone.
Fortunately, scarlet pimpernel is not very vigorous. If it comes up through mulch, only a few plants will survive, and they will be easy to pull. They do not compete with other more vigorous plants well either. Many simple ground covers will simply shade it out, although it can mingle with and ruin some of the finely textured ground covers like baby tears and thyme.
I am sorry that I do not have any more information about scarlet pimpernel than is commonly known. I am speaking primarily from experience, and my experience has not been as bad as with other more aggressive weeds. Scarlet pimpernel always seems to be around, but is not so much of a problem that I am too worried about annihilating it completely.P80826+