What’s Been Eating My Sweet Gum Tree?

The sweet gum tree (Liquidambar styraciflua) was mature when we got here–a twenty-five or thirty year-old tree. Sixty feet tall and, until now, problem free.

But this year, the lower leaves are about chewed away. The good news: the leaves at the top of the tree seem to be intact.

Google to the rescue–only not this time. Google points to tent or bag worms. It names a few specific caterpillars that like to feast on sweet gums. But I can’t find signs of any of these. So what’s been eating my sweet gum? Still a mystery.

While I haven’t noticed any tents or bags, I have seen black cocoon-like structures dangling from the lower branches. We removed these and drowned them in soapy water. But it’s too late to save the lower leaves, which means it’s too late to spray for caterpillars. But guaranteed, I’ll look for caterpillars next spring.

All the articles say that wasps and hornets will eat caterpillars. This year, we haven’t seen as many wasps as usual. I think that’s a bad thing, another one of those soft signs that the climate is changing.

Sunny Sunday

Sunny and hot, though not as hot as August ought to be. Here’s Loki–our Vizsla–soaking up some rays.

We’ve had a bit of rain this week, maybe about three-quarters of an inch. Although our neighbor down the street said he had eight inches. I suppose, given the way rain falls in Kansas, that’s possible. More rain predicted for later in the week, which will give my newly planted pecan trees a much-needed drink.

For those who don’t already know, check out my short story “Fluttering” in Dark Moon Digest 36. There’s a Kindle version in addition to print. Of course, if bugs terrify you, don’t read it.

I’m busy and feeling like there’s tons left on my plate before summer ends–and signs of fall are everywhere. So I need to hop to…

Hope your summer is just long enough and fall comes when you think it should.

Pecan Trees–Who Knew?

About seven years ago, we planted two pecan trees. The catalog we ordered from promised cross-pollination. But here it is, year seven, and where are the nuts?

Research to the rescue. Soooo…two different kinds of pecan trees are needed to cross-pollinate. Oops.

And I should be fertilizing the trees every month from March to June. Double oops.

And there’s a spray with zinc sulfate I should be using. Ouch. Slap my face. I had no idea.

I called an online nursery to find out which trees I should plant for cross-pollination and learned of two varieties that will work, Cape Fear and Elliot. Both will grow in Zone 6–never mind that we had a Zone 5 winter last year. The rep I chatted with was nice enough to offer me free shipping.

Except. They’re out of both varieties of pecans, at least until spring.

So I’m off to find those trees elsewhere. For the same price or near enough. Probably without free shipping. Gosh darn it.

Sunny Sunday

I keep thinking we’re headed for an early fall. After a cool spring and a mild summer, the signs are there. The daylilies are done except for the rebloomers, which are about to do what they do in fall. The chrysanthemums are budding. The sedum Brilliant and Autumn Joy have flowered. My cottonwoods are losing leaves–not unusual in a dry August. But leaves on my tulip trees (yellow poplars) are also changing, and that is unusual.

We have too many tomatoes. Fortunately, our neighbor didn’t plant this year. Whew.

Lots of gardening still to do, and I’m also needing to put more time into my work in progress. I have submissions out that need following-up and submissions still to–well–submit.

It’s a busy time.

Here’s hoping fall comes at the precise right time for you.

Rainy Sunday

It’s been stinking hot, weather that was supposed to continue for one more day. But the weather girl was wrong again. We woke in the middle of the night to high winds, thunder, and lightning. And the dogs whining to get in the house.

Rain this morning cooled things off, but the damage is done. The cottonwoods are loosing leaves.

The daylilies are finishing up. Buds are opening on the chrysanthemums, and I wonder if we’ll have an early fall. I’ve got lots of cleanup to do before winter sets in. Meanwhile, we’re harvesting peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant. The garlic is ready to eat. Pasta, anyone?

Meanwhile, I’m watching the honeysuckle bloom and the bittersweet turn orange.

Happy Sunday.