Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Back to Gardening on SPI

Well I finally rescued the lawn mower and weed whacker from the "maws of heck." Both were frozen up from the effects of a flooded garage but somehow - and with some STP gas treatment - I got them both working in top order.

Assessing the landscaping, it was fairly dire, with plants either dead or leaning at 45 degrees, the poor beloved plumerias stripped of most all their leaves. The native stuff lived, such as the Coral Bean plant I rescued. The sea grape also did very well, with some missing parts here and there. The natal plum, a beach plum also known as the Monterrey plum, was toasty dead - and spiky as heck. The trunk on the beach plum was so hard I had to use a chain saw.

Dang, I was just starting to get the upper hand, after messing with getting rid of a century plant and a palmetto that died. Bam, instant mess after that hurricane. The salt killed a bunch of the good grass and then this field grass filled in, growing two to three feet high within a week. It's not against my religion to mow more than once a week, but that was a stunner. I feel set back about two years.

So I took stock and looked at my gardening tools and took inventory. Anything that was metal seemed horribly rusted. The planting pots I had organized so well had moved all around the garage - the water must have been fairly high - and some had sprouted mysterious plants that died. I'm lucky to have the lawnmower and weed whacker working, I guess.

Then I remembered what Paul Johnson said about what happened after hurricane Emily, which burned the plants so bad: you have to dilute and get rid of all that salt. Hurricane Dolly was interesting in that the strong wind came from the west, meaning Laguna Madre water twice as salty as the ocean. So we'll we watering except in those shady spots where the mosquitoes lurk. Gosh I hate gardening with a bunch of skeeters.

The question is whether to hit the plants with a dose of fertilizer and iron. I haven't figured that out yet. In theory, the plants would be very hungry for some food, something aside from nasty sand and salt. On the other hand, all the fertilizers I have are ... salts. Maybe I need some fish emulsion or something? Mulch when I can get a truckload?

So many people lost good stuff, although some made it through just fine like my wild lantana, which decided that life was very good and is blooming all over like an blooming idiot. And the Norfolk pine did great. although listing about 6 degrees to the east; the salt pines seemed to be gone, MIA. My nemesis, the Brazilian pepper wood bush, is happily making leaves after being stripped by the hurricane winds. The birds and hummers love that bush but that's where the possums and raccoons live. That's one tree I have no problem if you want to drive a bulldozer at it. Plus, about 200 red-wing blackbirds wouldn't camp out there all winter because they know I have bird feed.

But that's next door and I'm lucky to have several empty lots abutting my property. But there's little protection and the bananas look dinky because they don't have any. Dang, I planted those bananas because I wantred something different, and did it all right. By now I should be eating Ice Cream bananas, a varietal I got that weren't anything like what you get in the store (yup, mash them up and freeze them and eat them just like ice cream). Oh well, I'll give them another year to see if they can get bigger than ... 16 inches.

You know, I had much better luck up in Austin, with a fine set of plum, pear, and peach trees and a raised garden along the edges of the cedar fence with tomatoes, peppers flowers, and herbs. I did onions one year and planted some mint and they all came back every year like big dogs. My problem was too much darn vegetation. My rosemary bush was a freaking tree about four feet tall. The passion flowers took over the fences - all of them - and tried to grow in grass. The plum tree put out at least 25 pounds of fruit, excluding what the birds and bugs got. Nope, I haven't seen that kind of action here, and the recent hurricane didn't help matters. Bayview sounds like you can grow some serious stuff over there.

But all is not lost and no way I'm leaving the island right now. The landscaping is always "work in progress" anyway.

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