Sunday, August 18, 2013

Fashions for Gardening. . .Really?

I'll admit it. I get a lot of catalogs - the majority of which pertain to gardening, plants and seeds. Yesterday, I got a small periodical that had all sorts of women's clothing for gardening. Thinking that I needed special gardening clothes, I proceeded to look over the lavish styles made for hoeing weeds and planting seeds.

The summer section of the catalog featured a rather cute spaghetti tank-top shirt designed to suggest careless elegance and sexiness while gardening. This is a style my body type does not warrant. It would expose me to sun, mosquitoes - not to mention the neighbors.

The 'tops' section presented shirts that would make even your flowers swoon. Also described is a garden jacket with a paisley pattern on one side and quilting on the opposite. I am sure I will need a jacket here in Texas someday and after all paisley goes with flowers. 

In the fall section, I found sweaters, scarves and knitted hats all for added warmth. One matched them with form-fitting trousers  for a more casual appearance.


All of these fashions, that I must have just to make my garden grow, began to make my head spin and then I saw the cost of being stylish. This fancy schmansy style may look trendy but it could put me in serious debt.

Gardening in Texas is different. My own idea of garden fashion is jeans (shorts leave knees too exposed to cuts, bruises and bug bites). Mine are dirty, frayed at the bottom, shredded at the knees and comfortably baggy. 

T-shirts with gardening slogans like 'gardeners do it in the dirt,' or 'give a weed an inch and it will take a yard' are my favorites. Brownish gray socks are the best because you can't tell when they are dirty. To keep my pedi looking good, I wear red clogs bought at Canton First Monday Trades Days. I do have a pair of cutesy, wootsy, rubber Wellies which are great for those wintry, rainy days. 

Crocs that come in bright colors are definitely a no no in the garden. The holes in their tops lead to a whole host of wet and muddy problems. And, your feet will have a unique polka dot tan.

A hat is a must unless you want skin like a crocodile. Mine is a lovely pink wide-brimmed straw version which the hummingbirds just love. Sunglasses are also a must. I buy them at the dollar store because I either: 1) misplace them, 2) sit on them, or 3) lose them while bending over the pond to feed the fish.

A garden fashionista must accessorize, right? My accessories include a bandanna to wrap around my forehead or to wipe my brow when I sweat. I never glow. . .I sweat. For gloves, I swear by Atlas Nitril Touch (they come in 6 colors) and I get them at Lost Creek Gallery in Mineola.

Some gardeners wear a smart looking apron with pockets in which to carry their tools. I tried one but my loppers kept piercing my stomach and the belt tied around my waist just made me sweat more. I prefer to carry my tools in a slop bucket that I brought home from my family’s farm. You do remember what a slop bucket is, don’t you? I have never carried an English trug (a small wooden basket that looks fashionable but holds nothing) because, after all, THIS IS TEXAS.

Thank goodness the garden fashionista police can’t see me when I garden because I look a little more like this. And, chances are if you visit my garden

you are dressed very much like me.

You know, it could be worse. . . .

Garden on!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Hornet? Wasp? What is It?

Have you been seeing these large wasps or hornets lately. I have had several on my back porch lately.

Well, our friend, Chris Wiesinger (aka the Bulb Hunter) of the Southern Bulb Company has found out what this thing is. 

Check out his post here: Cicada Killer

How dangerous are cicada-killer wasps? Cicada-killers are actually quite harmless.  Usually the cicada-killers you see zooming around are the males, which cannot sting.  A male stinger is a modified ovipositor; no male ants, bees, or wasps can sting.  To be stung by a female cicada-killer you need to either step barefoot on her or grab her with bare hands. 

This species nests in loose sandy soil where the female, after mating, will dig a burrow. She digs the soil with her jaws and moves it out of the burrow with her hind legs as she backs out. Chambers are located at the end of the borrow and each are large enough for a few cicadas. The female will paralyze a cicada, which are captured in flight, hold it upside down and fly to the burrow. You can imagine how difficult it must be flying all the while carrying something twice your weight! Women get all the difficult jobs, don't they, Ginger Rogers?

After depositing the "live" paralyzed cicada in the burrow, the female deposits an egg on the cicada and closes the round cell. Male eggs are laid on a single egg; female eggs are given two or sometimes more cicadas (this is because the female wasp is twice as large as the male and need more food). Eggs hatch in 1-2 days and the larvae eat the cicadas. Larvae grow for about 2 weeks and then spin a cocoon of silk and soil which remains in the burrow over the winter. Pupation happens in the nest in spring and the males appear first (around June or July) and mating takes place when the females emerge from the soil. The wasps die off in September or October. There is only one generation per year.

Predators of the cicada wasp include the velvet ant and humans.