by Charlene Burgi
Have you ever been asked a question that left you puzzled? Last week I brought my car in for its 100,000-mile service. When I picked it up, the gentleman behind the counter tossed out one of those questions that left me scratching my head. He wanted to know if I had a garden. I checked my fingernails for tell-tale dirt and noted my clothes and shoes were clean and neat. The question remained –how did he know I had a garden?
Recovering from his question, I admitted to gardening when he threw out another perplexing question. He asked if I grew peppers. Now I was really taken aback and wondered if this man had amazing psychic abilities! He could see the shock registered on my face and, once again tossed another zinger by asking if I had any peppers missing. Good grief! Does anyone track the number of peppers on their bushes? The Hungarian Yellow Wax pepper plant in the garden was the most prolific plant I have ever grown, but I had no idea how many peppers it produced. Who would know if peppers were missing — especially the man at the car dealership located 300 miles away from the garden! It was then that he pulled out his smart phone to divulge the mystery.
Apparently the joke was on me. The man was not at all psychic but rather observant. Upon opening the hood of my car, he found a stash of peppers distributed by a squirrel or possible pack rat who thought these lovely morsels would be in safe keeping under the hood of my car. This new-found storage container kept the stash dry from rain and snow and apparently made for a fabulous, albeit less than eye-catching, dining area! Oddly, the trip to Marin must have baked the peppers as I noticed an unfamiliar aroma inside the car and considered that it came from the pups’ gastrointestinal systems as we cruised down the road. Who’d a thought!
Since I left the car dealership, I thought about the pictures he showed me and wondered if those pictures would be submitted to some wall of shame! It also had me wondering what else might be hidden away in other locations on the ranch. What joy critters bring to us!
Tools: A few weeks ago I mentioned that this is the time to check your tools for winter keeping. We are approaching pruning season and this would be a good time to remove any pitch and sharpen the blades on garden knives, pruning shears and saw blades. Chains on chain saws (for bigger jobs) should be brought to a saw shop to be sharpened.
Shovels, rakes, hoes and other wooden long-handled tools should be checked for cracks and splits and replaced if there is a danger of breakage. Clean off any dirt on the wood, sand rough spots and treat the wood with linseed or mineral oil. Clean off the dirt from the metal portions of tools by spraying with water or using a wire brush. Dip any tools that might be exposed to mold, fungus, insect eggs or diseases in a bleach solution. Next, check for any signs of rust and remove with a light sanding or wire scrub brush. Finally, sharpen the blades of the tools for ease of use in the future and treat all metal with a light coat of mineral oil before storing.
Lawn mowers will also benefit from a good cleaning and blade sharpening to provide a clean cut when mowing rather than tearing the grass. Regular cleaning will also help prevent the spread of weed seeds.
With all that goes on in our busy lives, this may seem like a waste of time. But before casting aside this job, consider the health of plants when pruned by clean cuts. And you’ll save time if wooden handles don’t break in the middle of a job or you don’t have to look for tweezers to remove splinters from unprotected hands. This chore will be worth your time!
Yes, a busy time for all, including some furry critters who are missing their winter treats now!
Have a great weekend.