Thanks (I Think) for Gardening
November 22nd, 2007
Gardeners like me have a lot to be thankful for as we look back on the freaky frustration known as the 2007 growing season.
For instance, I’m thankful for all of the exercise I got reseeding big chunks of my lawn that once again got eaten by Japanese beetle grubs. Who needs a health club when you’ve got a grub-infested lawn?
I’m also thankful for skunks – smelly though they be – because at least God sent us one ally in our ongoing grub war. Skunks love to dig for and snack on grubs.
I’m thankful for sod webworms and chinch bugs – two other lawn-destroying bugs that were bad this summer – because they reduced the amount of healthy grass left over in fall for the grubs to eat.
And I’m thankful for the financial blessings that allowed me to buy a boatload of grass seed to start over again. It’s been an honor and privilege to support the American grass-seed industry.
I’m thankful for the National Weather Service rainfall figures because on paper, these make it look like we had a decent growing season. In real life, we all know that we get those 4-inch monthly totals by going 29 days with no rain and then getting all 4 inches in 45 minutes on the 30th day.
I’m thankful for the foam handles on Watering Wands. I spent so much time spot-watering new and young plantings this year that my wife had to pry my curled fingers off my trusty Wand at season’s end.
I’m thankful I wasn’t in one of those areas that got missed by every storm this season. It was uncanny how those local downpours kept missing the same areas every lousy time. Those poor gardeners had a brutally dry year.
I’m thankful I had only an intensely dry year, which is a step-and-a-half better than brutal on the Gardeners Whining Index (GWI).
I’m thankful that between dry weather and all the bugs, I hardly had to mow. Multiply that by everyone else and think of all the gas we saved! Maybe the real answer to global warming is more bugs?
I’m thankful I don’t live in Georgia or South Carolina because if it was 89 degrees here in mid-October, I’m can’t imagine gardening where it’s REALLY hot.
I’m thankful that squash vine borers killed my zucchini and melon plants because that made the groundhogs work harder for food.
I’m thankful that the rabbits ate so many of my young, tender plants in early spring because they fattened up quickly and couldn’t squeeze through my vegetable-garden fence by June.
I’m even thankful that the Japanese beetles were the worst I’ve seen them in 20 years because they ate all the leaves off my roses before the roses could get the dreaded black-spot fungus. No leaves, no disease, no spraying! What a work-saver.
I’m thankful I don’t have deer. Period.
I’m thankful for weeds because at least I had something green in the yard this year.
I’m thankful that the 2007 blast furnace is over and that we should have a better chance of getting some moisture into the ground from here on out. I’m not a winter fan, but for once, both my well and I are hoping for a snowy winter.
And last but not least, I’m especially thankful for the naïve optimism that’s innate in gardeners.
No matter how far we’re pounded down in any year, come spring we’re ready to start over… and fully expect everything to go well.
It wasn’t your imagination…
Bryan Swistock has been monitoring Pennsylvania’s rainfalls for 20 years, but he’s never seen a year in which some areas got hit with every local storm while others nearby missed every one.
“This year it is just incredible how it has been happening,” said Swistock, Penn State University’s water-resources expert.
He tells of driving past one farm and seeing normal growth, then going a mile farther and seeing brown, stunted crops dying from lack of rain.
The same was true of lawns and gardens in different parts of the Harrisburg area.
Swistock isn’t sure why storms repeatedly hit some places and not others but says farmers backed up his observations.
One up-side for those who kept getting missed… Japanese beetle eggs don’t hatch as well when the soil is bone dry.