GardenDishes

dishin' the DIRT on hit and myth landscaping

Archive for the tag “raised beds”

Ants-in-the-Pants Not a Fun Game

Yesterday while removing spring/summer blooming plants in a raised bed, I found a little more than dying plants. Recent rains encouraged fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) to look for higher ground. Raised bed = water-free home. Think of a beach house on stilts. Part of the mound fell from the root ball of a plant onto the leg of my jeans. Passersbyers witnessed moves that haven’t come from my body in quite some time when  I was
stung several times. I still can’t figure out how those demons got skin contact. Soon after the fiery sensation (thus, the common name),  itchy red bumps emerged, morphing overnight into nasty looking bumps that made my right leg look more like a 14-year-old boy’s face.

These boogers have been a southern gardener – and nature lover – problem for several decades now, hitching a ride into the U.S. on ships or even plants imported from their native South America. This invasion does have its upside, though. “Fire ants voraciously consume populations of fleas, ticks, termites, cockroaches, chinch bugs, mosquito eggs and larva, scorpions, etc.” says Galveston County Master Gardener Trish McDaniel in a publication called “Beneficials In the Landscape” from Texas A&M University. “(The) culinary creed for fire ants could be: if it will stay still for a bit, then it’s dinner!”

As far as full-grown humans and livestock, this appetite fire ants have for the things we hate most is good news. Not so much for little ones, though. A fawn born near a fire ant mound can spell disaster if momma doe doesn’t get her baby away quickly enough. So too with a calf or kitten.

a-on-playground

Organic pest control is always best to use near children or pets.

There are a number of organic methods for ridding yourself, albeit temporarily, of fire ants. (A great website for this information is from Urban Harvest.) One free way is to pour boiling water on the mound’s freeway. Do this several times over a two-hour period for the best results, as some of the ants could be too far down in the earth to be killed with the 1st pour. As they BRING OUT THEIR DEAD (you Monte Python fans know the line), hit the mound again.

When I found the mound – or they found me – yesterday, I took a little different approach. With a school nearby and me nearby (I’m a clutz and can’t blame McDonald’s if I get scalded), I sprinkled a bit of instant grits around the area.

kiss-my-grits

For a cheap & easy fire ant bait, you can KISS MY GRITS!

The ants will take it down deep into the mound where it will absorb liquid and they’ll blow up like they’re on steroids and eventually implode. Or explode. The point is, they’ll no longer bite.

So sorry to disappoint, but I’ll not be doing the ants-in-the-pants dance for a bit. Unless DANCING WITH THE STARS calls. Then could I borrow a mound from you? That’s basically the only way to get my groove on these days, I’m afraid.

Garden gypsies love change!

We’ve moved. Again. For the last time. Again.

People ask “how can you leave your gorgeous garden?” Those people don’t know me. I’m a garden gypsy. When I get close to being finished, it is time to move on and find a new challenge.

BEFORE: the front entry of the garden – the front door is on the side of the house on a different street, so no one could find it. Okay for salesmen; not okay for UPS.

AFTER: the front entry of the garden – we created a new entry walk, brick wall and gate off of the cul-de-sac, which was our actual address. Everyone could find us, but need the secret handshake to enter.

It’s difficult to see things objectively with your own child. Someone says “oh, your yard is beautiful,” and I can’t help but tell them what things need to be fixed, bringing out negative aspects no one saw but me.

I guess we all need someone in our lives to breath affirmatives into our ear – and into our gardens – giving us a fresh look at what is GOOD. My “old” garden is good now, ready for another caretaker, one who loves plants but doesn’t have a vision for planning their landscape. I often wish I was more like that….. Probably not as much as my husband wishes I was like that.

BEFORE: the view to the golf course – NOT!

AFTER: the view to the golf course – adding a broad crushed granite path framed our view to  the course and an observation deck gave us a new view to the tee box and green. Edging keeps the wildness the wildlife and I love at bay.  There are lots of spots to harbor golf balls that go astray, and no, I’m not giving them back if they land in my yard!

Thought I’d share some shots of my “old” garden, giving insight into a couple of the challenges we found there six years ago and how we worked past them. Look for photos of my “new” garden and the obstacles – and delights – I find there in the upcoming weeks.

Hope you’ll share your gardens with me, too. Do you have problem spots that need a remedy? Send your photos and let’s discover the good in YOUR garden!

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