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Easy to be green: The cat-faced spider

The cat-faced spider

Looks like I got what I wished for, snow. For those who have to work Monday through Friday, at least you could enjoy and have time to dig out. Sorry about those of you who work on weekends. But the selfish cuss that I am, I GOT. MY. WISH! Remember snow is good for the ground.

It is nice to know that spring is on some of you reader’s minds. I had a request from a reader on no till gardening and if it is feasible for backyard vegetable gardens.

Prior to my time as a Master Gardener and coordinator, I knew nothing about the no till system of gardening. The building where my office was located also housed the Conservation District for Clinton County, which advocates the no till idea. That is when I first heard of the no till method.

Basically using the no till system, you eliminate plowing or rototilling the ground. When the soil is tilled, you are actually disrupting Mother Nature’s ability to hold water in the ground and it allows the loss of nutrients, needed for seedlings to take root. When the ground is disturbed and is exposed to rain, the chances of allowing harmful diseases to attack your plants are greatly increased. Here is a great website for you to read. https://www.stonepierpress.org/gardeningnews/notillgardening Call the Conservation District at 570-726-3798 and see what information they have for homeowners.

Sometimes my brain lags behind when I list a website for you to view for more information. It never entered my mind to offer you an easier means to pull up a website, especially the one I listed last month on mushrooms.

Send me an email, provided below, requesting that I email you the link. You can then click on the link that will appear in blue. So much easier than trying to type a long web address.

Last month I started to write about a study from the University of Helsinki relating to honey bees and the help that is being done to ensure their survival. One of the infectious diseases that have contributed harm to bees, not only in Europe, but the entire world, is called American foulbrood. A vaccine has been developed against this disease.

Vaccines we know are given to mammals to prevent certain diseases. We have flu, tetanus and shingles vaccines for humans, rabies for dogs and cats. All of these vaccines cause the immune systems to develop an antibody. But insects, such as the honey bee, do not have immune systems that produce antibodies.

Without getting technical, the researchers have developed a vaccine that is introduced to the queen bee when she consumes food. This vaccine then is passed on to the new bees. Eventually this would create a hive free from foulbrood disease.

When exposed to the foulbrood bacteria, the bee’s immune system will protect the bee. This vaccine is not as of yet commercially available. It is nice to know that scientists are hard at work to their part to save the honey bee.

Viva LA France! France has become the first European country to ban all pesticides that have been linked to honey bee mortality. What France has done with the introduction of this ban is to go further than the European Union which have banned only three out of the five neonicotinoids. Any progress will help to ensure that our children and great-grandchildren will continue to have affordable food available long after we are gone.

Yes, the weather outside is enough to make one want to stay under the warm covers for as long as possible in the morning. But for some reason, my bladder says get up. There are things that can be done outside, if you are brave enough to risk frost bite. Bundle up, put on a warm pair of gloves and sturdy footwear and start to tackle some of the pruning chores that you want to do before serious yard work begins later in the season.

Roses can be tackled now. With a clean pair of hand pruners eliminate any dead branches. Check for any branches that cross each other. If they rub together, the other layer can be damaged allowing diseases to enter the wound.

Remove any part of the plant that is thinner than a pencil. Reduce the size of the long canes with cuts at a 45 degree angle that is between a quarter to one half inch above an outward facing bud. I usually trim my roses so there is between and a foot to a foot and a half from the ground to the top of the cut. Remove all dead leaves and other debris.

Cat Woman, catfish, cat-o’-nine tails, cat’s cradle, cat’s eye marbles and cat-faced spiders are names we have all heard about, well maybe not cat-faced spider.

Like the four legged head of any household, the cat-faced spider should be thanked for being a wonderful predator.

Unlike our furry pet, the cat-faced spider would not take kindly to being a household pet, it actually prefers the outdoors. It is the abdomen that actually resembles a cat face, thus its common name.

In case you didn’t know a group of vultures flying above is called a kettle. The same group enjoying a meal on the ground is called a wake. A group of vultures gathered together on the ground or in the trees is a committee. Do you know what to do if you are outdoors and you see a kettle of vultures circling above you? Keep moving!

Please feel free to ask me questions. Your questions give me material about which to write. Email me at qstocum@gmail.com or if you see me out and about, stop and talk to me. I thank everyone who has contacted me.

Remember, it is easy to be green. Happy Gardening!

Quentin Stocum, Just Your Common Ordinary Gardener

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Quentin Stocum, “just your common ordinary gardener,” can be reached at qstocum@gmail.com.

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