Saturday, August 01, 2015

Iris borer, hopeful waiting --- and garlic

The good news is, the iris bed at the museum is being dug and replanted --- thanks to chief gardener Kay Brown (left) above, Meg Prange (right) and Karen Mundt (immediately to the left).

The bad news is, we've got iris borer --- a pesky insect that in larvae stage chomps its way into iris rhizomes, consumes them from the inside out and leaves what remains susceptible to soft rot. That seems to be going around this year. Even Gert Patterson reportedly has been heard to threaten, "I'll never plant another iris!"

The only solution is to dig the iris --- a considerable task when there are lots of them --- discard infected rhizomes and related growth, dip the good rhizomes in a diluted bleach solution, replant and monitor carefully, perhaps adding a dose of insecticide in the spring. Then wait.

Gardeners do a lot of hopeful waiting.

While Kay, Meg and Karen were doing the heavy lifting, I was down at the base of the hill digging garlic --- about two weeks later than I should have been doing that. But life, and thunderstorms, interfere.

The news there was better --- and this year's small crop now is curing in the barn.

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