Found this neat saying that I wanted to share with you: “All too often in our country, this gay, false spring brings disaster in its trail by encouraging growth and blossoms which are killed when winter returns for a farewell visit in moody April.” (Louis Bromfield, Malabar Farm)
So with that said, don’t get too excited about putting out those newly purchased plants; there is still a chance for frost until April 15, after which it should be safe to plant tender plants or seeds. In the meantime, don’t forget to deadhead those pansies to keep them looking fresh and not going to seed.
With the warm weather that we had earlier in March, there is a good chance some perennials have already popped up, but if they are not too advanced you can still divide them. Bulbs should be divided or moved while they are still green so they can get their roots established before they go dormant. Consider planting summer blooming bulbs every two weeks to have continuous flowers. Caladiums can be started in pots now, but not outside– too cold and too wet. Dahlia tubers should wait until the end of the month– remember to put the stack in first, then the tuber.
Late winter-planted vegetables can be fertilized now and you can continue planting lettuce, carrots and onions. After the last frost you can put out bush beans, cucumbers, pole beans, Swiss chard and those much-sought-after homegrown tomatoes. Should there be a surprise frost, gallon milk jugs with the bottom cut out can be set over the plants to protect them.
(Note: One should listen to David Bowie’s “Cat People” while reading this piece.)
Scottish philosopher David Hume notably questioned the psychological basis for induction – that is, how we can be able to predict future events from past events – but even Hume would have thought this one was a no-brainer:
Recently, an unnamed woman in Liberty Eylau, Texas found a snake in her backyard.
A normal enough occurrence, right? But this woman loses her sense of rationality, throws gasoline on the snake and sets it on fire.
Apparently, there wasn’t a shovel nearby.
Panicked, the snake slithered into a pile of brush, which was near the sight of the planned immolation.
Guess what happened next: the snake started a brushfire, which, in turn, started a house fire...
Yep, the woman’s own house.
I’m pretty sure that we have sayings to help us prevent situations like these.
Local fire chief David Wesslehoft acknowledges that it isn’t strange for a burning animal to spread a fire.
Wesslehoft then described a scenario to Shreveport, La.’s KSLA where a rodent or other creature gets caught in the middle of a controlled burn, then attempts to run away from the fire, only to be engulfed in flames and then catch neighboring areas on fire.
However, I’m sure that it is rare for the animal itself to be the planned target of the burning.
In addition to losing her house, a neighbor’s house was also burned as a result of the brilliant idea.
The woman is facing no charges as of now, but I can think of at least a few laws that could have been broken during the bonfire, not the least of which being animal cruelty.
Although by now the woman might need a warm place like a prison bed to sleep.
Printed in the March 28, 2013 edition
Last week saw the House closing in on the end of this year’s legislative session – we only have one week to go. The committees were working through Senate bills, so we had more to consider on the House floor. We voted on 38 bills and resolutions during the week.
SB 76 seeks to address the challenges faced by many returning veterans. A variety of the issues confronting these veterans, from employment through mental health concerns, are addressed by sometimes very separate arms of the state government. Unfortunately (and to no surprise), those agencies often don’t coordinate very well, to the detriment of the veterans being served. SB 76 would create a Returning Veterans Task Force, composed of members of those agencies, and directed to examine how the state can better synchronize its efforts on behalf of veterans. Being a former Army officer, I consider this a very worthwhile effort, and supported the bill, which passed by 150 to 1.
As we learned, cuts due to sequestration amounts to a 2 percent cut in federal spending. But on a year to year basis, federal spending is still increased by over 2 percent. So basically, sequestration does not cut federal spending at all. Contrast that to employees who saw their FICA tax increase from 4.2 percent to 6.2 percent this year which dropped their take home pay by a real 2 percent.
The response by the federal government to this non-existent cut in spending has been bizarre and seems to be designed to inflict the most pain on American citizens rather than the government. White House tours for school children have been cancelled, the Department of Homeland security released hundreds of illegal aliens awaiting deportation, the FAA will reduce the number of Air Traffic Controllers, the TSA is threatening a massive increase in airport waiting times and the government threatens to cut meat inspections.
Meanwhile, President Obama took 600 people with him to Israel last week, including his armored car which had to be towed after his staff accidentally filled it with diesel fuel. That same weekend, Vice President Biden, on his way back from the installation of Pope Francis, stopped in Paris for a night and then stopped in London and racked up hotel bills of $585,000 and $485,000 respectively. The limo bill in Paris was $321,665.
The U.S.S. Harry Truman aircraft carrier and its escorts are sitting idle in Norfolk, VA because of the Sequester but the prison for terrorists at Guantanamo Bay is scheduled for $150-170 million in improvements.
Press Secretary Jay Carney was recently asked if the president was going to cut back on his lavish vacations and travel and gave a rambling non-response on how the President was focused on jobs.
“The word bipartisan means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out” – George Carlin. The above quote may be from a comedian but the sentiment is no laughing matter. Late last week the U.S. Senate held a vote http://goo.gl/2cKK7 on a budget resolution and decided they would sneak in a wholly unrelated bill, the euphemistically named “Marketplace Fairness Act” (www.marketplacefairness.org). Sadly there was strong bipartisan support for this embedded bill (75 for 25 against). The putative goal of this legislation is to put brick and mortar stores on an equal footing with online retailers with respect to sales tax collection. Presently, if you purchase goods online from a seller that has no “nexus” (that is, no physical presence) in your state then YOU, not the reseller, are responsible for submitting the appropriate sales tax to your state. As I’m sure you’re aware this is hardly ever enforced (as it would be political suicide).
The politically expedient route then is to go after out of state retailers who have no voice or vote and shake them down for tax money. So apparently if Party A is harmed and Party B is not, it makes more sense to start harming Party B rather to stop harming Party A. Brilliant.
I sat here this past weekend thinking about what to share with you as the storms came through and the heavy rain turned my yard into a lake; so I decided to talk about what plants actually like those soggy, boggy or consistently moist environments. Certainly, those very same spots in my yard will turn into ground hard enough to land a 747 on it, but I’m sure that many of you have places in your garden that stay wet all the time, even without the rain.
Lots of things can contribute to soggy soil. Site issues such as slopes, soil texture, high water tables, and even the amount of sun or shade will influence moisture retention. There is a shallow depression in my side yard and when the rain flows through the gutters it heads in that direction, then I have a small pond. The plans are to create a “rain garden” there one day to prevent the runoff that eventually heads to the street, but that is a story for another article.
There are different levels of “soggy” sites: consistently wet, consistently moist, and seasonally wet. Fortunately, there are plants for each of these areas. Most people know about the Bald cypress (Taxodium distichum), which actually sits in water– we have some at Round Bowl Springs. A tree that is probably hard to find but gives stunning fall color is Black gum (Nyssa sylvatica). Both are big trees so they need lots of space. For a water-loving shrub consider Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), and it attracts butterflies. The Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) is very often sold in nurseries and folks don’t know that it really is much happier in wet soil (then they wonder why it didn’t do well in their rock garden).