Monday, November 7, 2016

Don't Scratch That Itch

I was reading the USA Today and it said that 52 percent of the US population is experiencing stress related to the election. Really?  Only 52 percent?  I would of guessed more but then they didn't ask me my opinion.  Will anyone other than me, be glad when the election is over?

Although...if I weren't being irritated by the landslide of political ads, articles and junk mail telling me why or why not I should vote for or against someone or something, I don't know what I would fill my time with.  I am currently playing on a pretty flat field of "boring".  Autumn lull, I guess.  I am sure that this post will reflect on just how little is going on in my life right now. Yes,  I defy anyone to ask me what I am  currently doing  for fun and expect an answer anytime soon.  If being dull was classified a sport, I am good for the gold.

Autumn around here usually has me working out in the garden getting things pruned, mulched and prepared for the cold weather. The first "freeze"  usually arrives around late October.  This year, however, the cold isn't anywhere to be seen or felt, as the case may be.  Despite the fact,  it has been feeling a lot more like summer than fall,  the leaves are doing what leaves do this time of year. They are falling by the bushel into never ending piles that regenerate as quickly as I rake them up.   In years past, I might say that I enjoy tending to my gardens in the Fall and find a measure of serenity in tidying things up for the winter but this year there is a rub. Actually, it's an itch.   A beyond human endurance kind of itch thanks to an infestation of a nasty pests that go by the name oak leaf mites.  Often they are called itch mites for obvious reasons.

Over the years, I have come to a certain understanding that Kansas is intent on driving gardeners mad in a number of ways.  There are four seasons that are respectively: tornado, flood, drought and blizzard that make growing things a bid tricky here but on top of that, we have a climate where cool weather grasses can't take the summers and the warm weather grasses can't stand the winters.  Are you starting to see a bit of a problem with gardening here yet?

Well...there's more.  Just when good gardeners have done all they can to to add cubic yards of compost to the clay so they might be able to break ground without the aid of a jackhammer and backhoe, and have planted the short list of plants that can survive,  we now are the recipients of an unexpected (and dare I say?...unwelcome) guest....the aforementioned oak leaf mite.

Daily...and I do mean daily..there are articles in the local papers talking about the infestation of these microscopic pests that float through the air and land on people without their knowledge.  Four or more hours later the person (or landing strip  if you prefer), will find a lot of  blistery welts that itch like a mosquito bite times a billion.  Yeah, like that.

According to the articles we should cover up our arms and legs, limit our time outdoors, use DEET products liberally  and shower immediately after coming indoors.  As much fun as all that sounds, none of it is working all that spectacularly.  Of course, it's hard to say if the numerous bites that made their way onto our spot-riddled, itchy hides are just from mites or is it a combo pack of chigger bites, mosquito bites and the oak tree mites.  They all seem to have had a banner year here.

SOOO..with all that being said, these pests are sucking the joy (and body fluids) out of gardening. The up-tick is that the first hard freeze is supposedly going to take care of them.  Should I be happy about their impending demise?  Maybe that makes me heartless.  It most assuredly makes me less itchy though. 

Hope you all are itch free and having fun.

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