Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Spring Hopes Eternal

You'd think there would be more posts on a garden blog at this time of year, right? Well, I haven't felt much like gardening lately and I haven't felt like I had anything worth writing about. This can't go on much longer. Can it?

Another drippy day. Spring is late. Again. Temperatures are below normal for this time of year. We keep telling ourselves if we can just make it through the next few wet days there are suns on the weather page of the paper. Just over the horizon, at the end of the week. Maybe.

Right now the sun is shining, even though an intense shower with some hail is passing through. But the plants don't seem to notice that what is supposed to be happening isn't. And we've had a taste of pleasures to come. Buds are bursting forth and all over town there are colors besides gray and brown. This little tease has me yearning for more; more color and the smell of plants and flowers warmed by the sun.

I can't wait for:
Milky orange of squash blossoms, and the flesh of pumpkins
Blinding, piercing orange of marigolds and zinnias
Peaches, even though they are more about the smell than the color
Carrots, which always provide a surprise when pulled from the soil

Waxy perfection of daffodils, shocking against the still dead landscape
Winter jasmine and Forsythia, (these have come and gone)
Pale yellow of sweet corn, only at peak for a few weeks, but such a classic taste of summer

Soft pink of cherry trees in bloom, fluttering away at the touch of a breeze
Pink Magnolia buds, like a tree full of Easter eggs
Searing pink Zinnias and Cosmos

Western Scrub Jays that turn up looking for peanuts most mornings
Borage flowers and their fan club of bees
Sweet pea flowers of whose delicate perfume I never tire

Star Magnolia, bright light against the frequently gray skies of March
Blousy, charming, old fashioned Peonies
Classy white Roses, always elegant

Roses in every shade of red
Blood red beets
Fire engine red Crocosmia

Rich, loamy soil, crumbly fragrant compost
Black tomatoes, which aren't really black, but dark purply green and rich in flavor, my favorite
Creepy black Tulips

Millions of greens as plants emerge from hibernation
Blue green of Lacinato Kale
Electric chartreuse, green of new shoots and Sweet Flag grass

So I will distract myself with spring cleaning and in a few days we may have sun and warmth.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Now You See 'em

And now you don't. Just as promised. We placed the dabs of Terro among the swarms of ants and waited. At first more ants came, just like we were warned on the package. We remained calm. We kept the bait traps full.

Each morning there were fewer and fewer of them and they seemed more and more tired and slow moving. Finally, after 2, maybe 3 days, there just weren't any more ants. Hooray!

We waited, just to make absolutely sure before we reclaimed our kitchen counters. After a day or 2 with no ants we wiped everything down and replaced appliances and utensils and life returned to normal. And we have been ant free ever since. Until next time.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Uninvited

It could be worse. At least it's not cockroaches.

At first there were just a few. Scouts presumably, looking for food. Then the word spread and more of them began to appear. Ants. We kidded ourselves for the first few days, just crushing the random intruders, and mopping them up with paper towels. But it got difficult to keep up with the increasing numbers.

We cleared the counters where they were most active, on both sides of the stove. We swabbed the counters clean and applied vinegar. Still they came. I took a certain degree of pleasure in vacuuming them up. A nice quick solution, but like the others we had tried so far, ultimately ineffective.

Nathan, who is much better at finding real solutions than am I, was browsing the internet for ant riddance solutions came across what we hope is the final solution for these annoying critters. He found the answer on a website called Get Rich Slowly, coincidentally run by a friend of a friend.

Terro was the answer he claimed. I made haste to the hardware store around the corner and got a small bottle of this sugar and borax bait. Ants come, indulge in the mixture, transport it back to the nest, and well... you know. The slogan is Bait, Wait, Eliminate.

We are currently in the Wait part of the strategy, trying not to freak out at the increased numbers of ants, while they stock up on the poison that will solve the problem once and for all. Or at least for the near future.

Here is what the bait traps look like. Kind of like a pretty flower, right?

It's just a piece of cardboard from the packaging, doused with the sticky mixture. They do seem to love it, and belly up to the bar like it's happy hour. And it is kind of fun to watch them stagger away from the bait station with high hopes, not of moving a rubber tree plant, but of delivering their load of "food" to the colony.

It is my task today to make sure the feeders don't run dry. I want to be a generous as possible with the juice in the hopes that I will soon be able to use these counters again for normal kitchen activities, instead of entomology experiments.

Updates to follow.