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What's your gardening nightmare?
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Post What's your gardening nightmare? 
this is rather lengthy but hope you see the humor and frustration this gardener has gone/is going thru......

Before moving back to MD, zone 7, in 2003, I gardened for 13 years in MN, zone 3. It was a fairly small plot being only 250 sq ft but every year I had to fight wild Morning Glories. At first it was a novelty to see the vine grow up along the fence of the garden, the pretty purple blooms opening every morning and close by the evening. That was until they died back, turned brown with their little round seed pods just begging to burst open.

Year after year after tilling and amending the soil, I would wait a week before planting only to find these little morning glory sprouts practically covering the garden. No sooner would I hoe, pull and cultivate them under, more would appear. It was a constant battle. I'd go out of town on business for a few days or on vacation, only to come back and find the little devils growing up the fence. I don't use chemicals in the garden or yard so my only choice was to burn, pull, hack, pull, hack...did I mention pull???

Now, living in MD, I have a new nightmare...well...actually two new nightmares...wild ivy and a vine I call the MD Kudzu (I have no idea what the real name of it is however, it does look like Kudzu, the vine that is taking over GA, SC, NC...it has spade shaped leaves, a porous branch, orange roots that are rather brittle and spread out in every direction. You can actually sit and watch this thing grow like it's from a Stephen King novel...I'll upload a pic of it when it starts showing itself this year).

I remember the little old lady next door planting the ivy along her house when we first moved to MD in 1971. She thought it would look nice growing along her foundation. I also remember my mother grumbling every spring and summer to keep the creeping vines from getting in her flower beds. Flash forward 32 years later; I move back to MD to take care of my mom and, to my nightmare, the ivy has taken over the flower beds, grown up the 100 yr old white pines along the property line, has spread 5 - 12 feet into our property, has even jumped the 60 some feet to spread itself along the opposite property line...UGH!

So, rather valiantly, I take on the mission that I will eradicate this ivy and reclaim my property and flower beds...Riigghhtt!!!! I've tried pulling, mowing, hacking, digging, weed wacking all to no avail. (This stuff has, what I call, TapRoot Central nodes. They go deep, will spread out in every direction and create another TapRoot Central several yard away) I have this tool that my grandfather would use that looks like a cross between a machete and a sickle. I'd cut 1 sq ft sections, use the shovel to pull up the sections, then the pitch fork to loosen the dirt and pull vines and roots. The garden rake would help locate the little bits and smooth the new found soil. After 4-6 hours of doing this each day, I had a nice size chunk of reclaimed earth, a literal mountain of decapitated ivy and an aching back. (forget the song title 'My Achy, Breaky Heart'...how about 'My Achy, Breaky Back, Legs and Arms'. ) The following year, here comes the ivy sprouting everywhere.

Then there's the MD Kudzu. I can't even tell you how much I hate this vine, I think I'd rather deal with the Morning Glories than this stuff. It's easy to prune it out of the trees, shrubs, bushes and rather easy to dig up the new growth but when it comes to getting the established roots, you start pulling and pulling, only to find that you've now pulled a root 5 - 10 feet away from the tap root, not to mention the little off shoots of roots spreading everywhere. Ivy and Kudzu and roots OH MY!!!

Suffice it to say, I have a never ending battle on my hands. As a gardener, we find solace working in the soil, watching things grow, enjoying the fruits of our labor...heck, we even get satisfaction pulling the weeds out of our gardens so they don't interfere with the growth of our babies, but enough is enough already!!

I'll never give up on this endeavor! I'm on a mission! However, if anyone has any successful advice on how to eliminate these culprits of invasion, I'm more than willing to lend an ear...shovel...machete/sickle... So. What's your gardening nightmare? Wink

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Post Wild potato vine, vining milkweed and sweet peas 
These things are HORRIBLE. My only defense, other than my hands and tools, is to pour boiling water on them several days in a row when they first start showing their ugly heads. Only problem with that is the lady on the other side of the fence doesn't care and won't do anything about them. Went away for a week last summer and came home to these cuprits trying to strangle my sweet autumn clematis.


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Post My Nightmare is Ants Any Help? 
My worst nightmare with my garden here in South Florida is Fire Ants. Anything I plant into the ground sooner or later gets taken over by the pesky little creatures. It kills my plants. I have to container garden everything off the ground in a way the ants cant get to them. Right now my problem is my Potatoes they were growing great in the ground and today I find ants have taken residence around 3 of my plants. Running out of patience. Really wanted Potatoes. Any Ideas???

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Shocked Now you all have me worried. Having moved from NJ to TN last year I spent the last 12 months, learning what was growing on the property, and what problems I was going to face when I started my new vegetable garden. I seem to have all off the above. I too spent last year enjoying the the morning glories, and huneysuckle bringing splashes of color to the rolling green. We have been fighting the fire ants with a pesticide although I personally don't like using it, i don't want grandchildren or family pets mixing it up with the ants. I didn't think they would be a problem in the garden.
I sae the deer as my biggest foe, although they are great to see, I don't want to expend all the energy and end up with nothing. Does anyone no of a natural deterrent, not really looking for the extra expense this year of deer fencing.

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Post Fire ants and deer 
I have never dealt with fire ants and I am very happy about that. They sound awful. I did run into this article a while back that you will find interesting (and hopefully some day useful)

http://news.yahoo.com/s/mcclatchy/20090512/sc_mcclatchy/3231765 - Turn fire ants into Zombies (not science fiction)

As far as deer go, a cheaper solution would be a motion detector sprinkler. When there is motion in front of the sprinkler it shoots an 8 second blast. I use it in my garden when the corn is maturing to deter the raccoon. At $50 it is not cheap, but less than deer fencing. You can also daisy chain them together for extra protections.

WARNING: It doesn't know the difference between you and a deer. You are likely to get blasted at least once when you see a ripe tomato and run into your garden. All you will hear is the click of the solenoid before you get blasted.
I put a link on the www.plangarden.com because so many people ask about this. It is on the bottom right side.

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Post Some ideas to try 
Vinegar works as a week killer, spray full strength in the middle of the day and let the sun bake it.

Cinnamon works on most ants, just sprinkle and they fry. For ants in the taters, we spread used tea bags on affected areas and kept surrounding areas sprinkled with cinnamon, worked fine.

As much as I hate to admit, we have resorted to round-up on occasion for invasive plants, like poison ivy and ivy on property lines that no one else cares to spray for.

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Post Fire Ant or any other ant 
My gramma told me a old way to get rid of ants (tell me if works on fire ants)
take sugar in a bag add cinnamon and shake bag ontill all sugar is coated "taste great on butter toast" pour a line of cinnamon sugar near the nest and watch the ants find food eat some go back to nest tell there friend then ALL ants come out and carry sugar down to nest. well sad part is the cinnamon makes the ant not able to diegest food any more and slowly dies and by that time the whole nest and Queen has ate the cinnamon.. Twisted Evil ..try on a no rain days hope this helps.

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Post worst garden nightmare 
Every place I have lived I have grown a garden and every place has its own unique nightmares.


Germany, military housing problem was the neighbors. "How dare you plant flowers here. Who is going to take care of them after they ship your husband out?" Three years of grass and some sick potted houseplants.

Maryland, more military housing. Four-legged varmints. Mostly deer but there was also depredation from some large rodent. Also had a lot of 5-finger discount going on. But, I felt that if my neighbors had to steal my veggies they probably needed them more than I did.

California, not in military housing any longer. Soil problems mostly and a lack of affordable and dependable water. We lived in the central valley of Cali where summers are long hot and very dry. They have a soil formation there called caliche. Stuff is hard as a rock and in our case about 10 inches below the soil surface. Water takes a long time to penetrate the stone hard layer so drainage is a serious issue. Big agribusiness uses immense caliche busters to break up the layer. I used a pick ax, crowbar and a posthole digger. I also settled for adding about 12 square feet a year of good soil.

Jacksonville, Oregon. Rocks, more rocks, yet more rocks. Our house was built next to a creek that was downriver of earlier hydraulic gold mining. Tons of cobbles, boulders and gravel washed onto the property. That was where I build my first raised beds. Although, I did gouge out a lot rocks for the flower gardens. And though I had problems with morning glory in all of other parts of the US. It reached epic proportions in southern Oregon. Also learned to despise thistles. Oh, and deer. There was a city ordinance that deer could not be molested in any way. So every time I ran out with my red hair flying and a broom in my hand to dissuade the little "dears" to leave my garden in peace, someone would remind my I was breaking the law.

Portland, Oregon. Summers were dry but, never got very warm. Spring started in Feb. and lasted until the end of June. Most of June was in the 60's or rarely
very low 70's. Then summer would strike. Sometime in late July or early August we would get a week of upper 90's to low 100's. Then, temps would drop until our first frost in mid October. First tomato usually ripened sometime in mid September. I cherished all six of the little boogers that ripened. Okay, I admit it wasn't quite that bad but almost.

Now I live in Idaho. And God willing will until I get carried out feet first. This is my second garden here but my first in our new home. Last year Jim and I put in 4 raised beds and our own "homemade" soil. Despite problems with what I finally figured out to be residual weed killer in the purchased compost, we harvested a bumper crop of everything except the beans, tomatillo's and potatoes. Those never got past the initial slow going with the chemical burden. I miss the zone 8 gardening I had in Oregon but, I think I can find many ways of making zone 7 work. Wish me luck. Wink

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