Day 61-SIP-Slow Recovery

After a slow start, I made a day out of it yesterday. The sky was grey and oppressing, it looked cool outside, so many excuses to not go out into the garden. Instead, I sat by my desk and wrote Day 60. I don’t even remember today what it was about, but it happened. This is a similar day. My big excuse today was I am waiting for the Maytag repairman, really. He hasn’t been this lonely guy trying to stay busy while calls for repair never come. I can tell you this, This is the second time I’ve called in four months. The first time was for my relatively new washing machine, nine months old. It just quit working. Thankfully, it cost me nothing because of the warranty. This time it is my dishwasher. The latch to open and close the door is broken. Once it is locked I need to put my foot up against the cabinet and yank with two hands to reopen it and to retrieve my dishes. At least this machine is ten years old.

I finally made it into the garden by 2:30 in the afternoon. The chore was to thin the irises out of the pond. Irises grow with a strange root system. They aren’t called roots they are rhizomes. They don’t grow down into the ground but kind of surf the top. What the books don’t say however, is that the rhizomes send out roots.

When my pond was brand new, I planted a single iris near the edge. In the past twelve years that single plant kept expanding and now cover an area of six feet by four feet. That is way to large a bed for a single species of flower in my small pond. It has to shrink.

June 15, 2008
June 11, 2018

The design of the pond is simple. A kidney shape with an ess-shaped stream flowing from a waterfall. The water falls into an widened area almost like a mini pond and then meanders about twenty feet to the big pond where it widens. What I found out yesterday was that the mouth of the stream had narrowed by fifty-percent. The mass of irises had grown its way across the mouth. Had I not ripped them out, within another few years they would have blocked the stream . Another finding was that below the rhizomes was a two inch thick mass of fibrous roots. I literally used a crow bar to pry them loose from the original gravel bottom.

All of these things have been contributing to the water loss I have when the stream is flowing. The thick roots make the stream bed shallower and thus the water runs higher and over the water retaining liner. It will be interesting to watch what happens this summer when I turn on the fall again. Between the grasses that over ran the small pond at the bottom of the fall, and the irises overgrowing the mouth of the stream I was losing a couple inches of water a day from the pond. That did not make me a happy camper.

I just read an article that the irises are prone to getting a disease called iris rhizome root rot. The leaves become soft, and the rhizome root grows mushy. Iris root rot is a caused by Erwinia carotovora, a bacterial phytopathogen. It usually gets inside the rhizome through an opening created by some kind of injury. That last phrase got me. There is a very high chance that I will further lessen the iris crop when this root rot takes over. By cutting and breaking the rhizomes during thinning I injured them and left the ends open which allows the pathogen an entry point. Only time will tell. Next spring is when I expect to see the unintended effect of my work. The sad part is that I have to reduce the bed further which will take another two to four hours to accomplish. The sadder part is that for every two hours I spend working in the garden it takes me two to four days to recover. Thank God at least I am still recovering.

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