5-4-13 Progress Report: the Swamp Edition

Telling the Sho’ Nuff truth means shooting straight from the hip when the  garden is a nightmare.  I’ve painted and posted a lot of “pretty pictures” of my garden.  But the gloves are coming off.  I’ve had one helluva poor spring because the Rain.  Just.  Won’t.  Stop.  More than a foot and a half of water has come out of the sky in the last four weeks.  As I’ve mentioned in other Progress Reports, I have a low-spot in my yard that I work around very carefully.

The white margins on these gooseberry leaves are a clear sign that the plant is drowning.  I have to take action or risk losing the plant.

The white margins on these gooseberry leaves are a clear sign that the plant is drowning. I have to take action or risk losing the plant.

There just isn’t anywhere else for that water to go now except into my gooseberry beds, although they have never had trouble with standing water before.

If you don’t know Gooseberries (I recommend you plant one  right away) they are tuff little customers, disinterested in pests, disinterested in soil pH, disinterested in fungal diseases, disinterested in soil quality.  You can stick them most anywhere that gets sun, and you’re going to get fruit.  But even  G.I. Jane Gooseberry starts to drown after a week in standing water.

… and the weather report says more rain is on the way for another five days.

I’ll be a Monkey’s Uncle before I let my gooseberry bushes drown.  They are just beginning to bear fruit; and quite frankly, I can’t afford to replace them!

So I spent the Saturday morning with my husband digging drainage channels between the low spot in our yard and the city’s drainage ditch.

My better 1/3 and I draining the gooseberry bed.

My better 1/3 and I digging channels around the gooseberry bed.  I hated doing it, and I hate looking at it.

My backyard now looks like a bulldozer has been tearing up sod;  great clots of bare Mississippi mud are just waiting to turn into sun-baked Mesopotamian-styled bricks, just as soon as the sun comes out.  The gooseberries are out of danger for now, but I just can’t enjoy the landscape when part of it looks like a construction site.

One bright spot:  My three Blackhaw Viburnum (Viburnum prunifolium) shrubs bloomed for the first time since I put them in the ground as bare-root whips 6 years ago!  If you don’t know Blackhaw Viburnum, it is a native understory shrub capable of thriving in deep shade and in dry compacted soil.  It’s fruits are often sweet enough for human consumption, but the birds really enjoy them (which is why I planted them).

Mazel Tov, Blackhaws!


5 thoughts on “5-4-13 Progress Report: the Swamp Edition

  1. Margaret Katranides says:

    There used to be a prohibition against putting gooseberries within some fair distance of pine trees, because of a shared rust or something. I’m remembering this from over 50 years ago, so there’s some uncertainty on the distance and the infective organism. But it has been superglued in my mind all that time that you just can’t have both pines and gooseberries. Has this changed?

  2. Sho'Nuff says:

    White Pine Blister Rust is a fungal condition that affects gooseberries, currants and a number of species of Pine. While it isn’t particularly harmful to shrubs in the Ribes genus, it is deadly to the pine. Gooseberries are currently banned in particular states, on a state-by-state basis, I imagine depending on issues related to local timber conditions and industries. It is currently legal to ship currants (lol) and gooseberries to the state of Illinois. I don’t recall which exact states ban this plant, but I don’t *think* Missouri is one of them. It might be that fifty years ago, Illinois/Missouri still had a considerable pine population, and a timber industry to go with it. The law that banned the gooseberry and currant may have been rescinded as the number of pine trees collapsed in the region (White Pines have declined all over the country because of a whole range of pest problems), or because of the further decline of the timber industry.

    • Margaret Katranides says:

      I was in Massachusetts then, and in the middle of a mixed conifer/hardwood forest; most of the conifers were white pine or scrub pine.

  3. […] 5-4-13 Progress Report: the Swamp Edition […]

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