The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence

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Thursday, August 4, 2016

Chipmunks, Hosta, and Toxic Remedies.
Hosta La Vista?
Weed and Pest Control


Hosta - Blue Hawaii

Mrs. Ichabod loves Hosta plants, which are a decorative weed. Just kidding folks. There are 8,000 varieties of Hosta and one can join a Hosta society and become part of their community.

The American Hosta Society.

Free Hosta Journal

This article proves that Hosta fanatics are a bit different.

Hostas are the most famous shade plant, and they have the advantage of spreading on their own and attracting hummingbirds. Some gardeners leave the base of their trees bare or covered with wood mulch. Others would rather use the area for Hostas and other shade plants.

Mr. Gardener gave me some of his Hosta, and I purchased a few more from Direct Gardening, which means very small ones for a very small price. However, the tiny sprouts grew quickly and began to catch up with the big plants from my neighbor.

The Michigander told me chipmunks were eating his Hosta, killing them, so I looked up the topic. Internet Forums are interesting, because everyone has a theory and a cure.

Hosta - Great Expectations

Toxic Avengers
The forums blamed chipmunks on Hosta problems, but some named other culprits. The defense tactics made me cringe and laugh.

Slugs
One person hates slugs, which comes from slugs rasping away leaves and really damaging young plants. Like earthworms, they are considered shredders, an important part of decomposition. In addition, 2/3rds of them are never seen - so good luck  with ammonia water, suggested by one person who loves to see them writhe and die. You know what they say about people who enjoy hurting animals. I would watch that one.

Animals go to where they are fed. Slugs love moisture, darkness, and garden products. Watering at night is a great way to gather slugs in the garden. Anything strong enough to kill one creature will kill others, though ammonia has the advantage of being a nitrogen product and not true poison.

So poison slug bait is going to kill some slugs and plenty of other critters. That could poison dogs and cats, too. But slugs will never go away. Go out at night and view the garden with a strong flashlight. That will be enlightening.

Detergent and Other Mixes
Some people pass this around as a cure for weeds - Epsom Salts (why?), a huge dose of Dawn detergent, and vinegar. Epsom Salts will not kill weeds or improve most soils, but it is fun to see it melt into the soil when it rains.  Those who make the product say it is ideal for every single desirable plant. Martha Stewart scratches Epsom Salts into the top layer, showing as much soil knowledge as the Gabor sisters.

Dawn detergent is a great degreasing product that will kill everything it touches: soil creatures, weeds, plants, flowers, bushes, and soil microbes. The soap will also imbalance the soil chemistry while adding toxic chemicals to the water table.

Vinegar is a mild acid. I doubt whether that by itself would have a long-term effect on weeds. Doubtless the combination of all three will make a smelly, awful mix.

Hosta - Liberty.


Easy Weed Control
When Jessica Walliser wrote on the topic, I offered my answer - Washing DC Cover-Up approach. I cover up the weeds with cardboard and mulch and say, "What weeds? I don't see any."

When I have a large patch of tall weeds, we mow them down first, then cover them with cardboard or newspapers, then add leaves or mulch.

Weeds popping out of the edges can be pulled, which is quite effective after a long rain.

We leave dandelions (true herbs) alone, because they are not weeds and are not invasive. Besides, they will always be around. Learn to love them and eat the nutritious greens.

Purslane is another eternal edible that some see as obnoxious. Nothing tastes better while gardening.

Our constant pest is Bermuda or wire grass. We do some pulling and cover large patches.

Crabgrass, a grain imported from Europe, is mowed rather than soaked with RoundUp, which only leaves bare spots in the lawn and messes up all the plants and critters.

Crabgrass in the cracks of the driveway and sidewalk can be treated with rock or pool salt. The salt will dry up the plant and go away.

Milkweed is highly desirable for Monarch Butterflies.

Critters
Rabbits and squirrels most of my food plants, one way or another, so I no longer try to grow much food.

I let God sort out the creatures. Each one is food for another, so they balance out overall. My neighbor has a caged garden fenced in and covered on top.

Morning Glory will grow like a weed.
Our mutual fence is covered with them now,
because Mr. Gardener put his green trash along the fence.
They planted themselves and we have a big display of them.