Does that sound like a…?


Spent some quality time in the west garden late this morning and early afternoon pulling Canada thistle (again).  I’m keeping on top of them pretty well this year, and I hope to finally exhaust the roots and eliminate them completely by the end of this season.

I pulled about three seven-gallon buckets worth of mostly thistles and other weeds growing up along the western edge of the gardens and dumped them all on the compost, which has been cooking along with the heat and humidity.  I turned the pile again yesterday and found no trace of the six baby bunnies I’d thrown in there–and no trace of anything burrowing in to get at them, either.

Started clipping the seedheads of the fourth-year row of green onions as well–they give a satisfying “plunk” when snipped–the sound magnified and echoing down the tubes of their stems. The weather kept going from rainy and breezy to sunny, still, and horribly hot and humid.

While picking the sugar snaps in the north central garden, I smelled that smell, and said to myself as I turned around looking, Geez, it smells like something died around here. Indeed, a western red garter snake had died–it somehow got its body stuck underneath a landscape staple and couldn’t get out.  I don’t think it was the big one I posted images of a few days ago–it looked much smaller than her.

So, I was finishing up picking peas on the back of the trellis, and telling H, who was working on the weed whacker nearby, about the snake, when I heard a peculiar sound.  It sounded like an audience clapping, and it kept getting louder.

“Is that rain?” I asked just before it started pouring.  The sound of sheets of rain pouring down on a valley full of corn leaves has a sound remarkably like a standing ovation–getting louder as it approaches.  I finished up the pea-picking getting completely drenched in our latest shower.

I’m considering re-thinking my nickname for this part of the state–instead of “The Southern Paradise of the Dakotas,” we might better be called, “The Southern Rainforest of the Dakotas.”

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3 responses to this post.

  1. How many years have you been pulling up thistles?
    The people who owned my house before me let them grow wild, and I’m on my third summer of pulling and poisoning.

  2. Posted by flyingtomato on June 24, 2009 at 10:59 am

    Oh, about as long as you have–maybe another year. Unfortunately, we had one year where I just couldn’t get to all of them, so that has added to the chore. Just don’t let any of them go to seed. Not one. Chop, pull, mow, whatever you need to do to keep them down. You are dealing not only with the results of the previous homeowner allowing them to go to seed but also the well-established parent plants.

    The problem is that the long white root you pull isn’t the main root. Those are way down there. So you have to keep pulling/chopping them from the surface to deprive that main, deep root of nutrients. Glyophosphate (yep, Roundup) is the usual non-organic remedy, though I don’t allow it in my gardens for obvious reasons.

    BTW, the worst thing you can do is try to “solarize” (put down plastic) because it’ll kill off all the competition. Thistles’ roots are too deep to be burned off, so they really take over when you kill off all the shallower-rooted plants. So whatever you do, don’t try that.

    –re.

  3. I used roundup the last couple of years, but now that I’m growing food, I perfer not to use it. I haven’t let any go to seed since I moved in, but those buggers are persistant.
    I have noticed that they aren’t growing as strong or as fast this year, though. Maybe I’m making progress.

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