Shag Be Gone

We had a very rainy start to the year. Based on Environment Canada, last year had a lot more precipitation, but we had warmer weather overall, so it feels like this year has been worse. June was one of the wettest and coldest we have had on record. All this moisture has been fantastic for the garden, and saved us a lot of watering. But then July and August hit and with it came some hot temperatures. We were at our usual summer heat of 35-40C.

The plants exploded and really took off in that summer heat. Usually we start seeing temperatures in the low 30’s in June, so it delayed a few of our plants a bit this year. But they are happy now. So are a lot of other things in our garden.

Although we usually have a healthy spider population throughout the summer, this year it is out of control. As someone who doesn’t particularly like spiders, walking into our backyard sometimes feels like walking into a scene from arachnophobia. All of our cedar trees glisten in the sun, looking like a deluxe high rise for spider nests. All of our plants are thoroughly infested with large, overgrown leaves becoming the perfect rolled-up home for spiders. Our rhubarb is the absolute worst. To harvest our food, I have to prepare myself for a battle royale. On top of that, our rock gardens have also become the spiders suburban homes with nest after nest tucked in next to each other.

The size and variety of spider is also interesting. We vary year to year, with one species usually being the most dominant. Last year it was the black widow. The year before was the wolf spider and when we first moved in, it was the orb weaver. This year, they are all abundant and thriving peacefully together. It is interesting in a nightmare-giving way. They are also extremely large this year. All that moisture and mild temperatures has given opportunity to a lot of bugs to thrive, so their food source has been plentiful and it shows in their size and rotundness. The good news is that I am getting much better at stifling my fear of them and learning to deal with them as I have to. It doesn’t stop me from getting the heevy-jeevies almost all the time.

Mushrooms and fungus are another thing that is thriving in the yard. Never have I seen so many mushrooms growing in our yard. Even growing up, I don’t remember this many mushrooms being around. They just don’t usually survive the heat here, but this year they are abundant and also very large.

Slugs! Not something I thought we would ever need to worry about here. We get just slightly more rain than a desert classified zone gets. We look like we are a desert with sagebrush and dust hills, hoodoos carved into sandy mountains and cacti everywhere. Not a good habitat for slugs, and yet, this year they are out of control! Last year I found 1 in our strawberry bed and it was quickly evicted. We didn’t see any others last summer. This year, I am killing them at least once every few weeks. I never find more than 1 at a time, but they are there. Luckily we haven’t seen any damage to our strawberries or plants. I was however, shocked to see two large slugs in the potato tower we cleaned out yesterday! They were the largest I have seen all summer and they were a few inches into the dirt. When I first spotted them I figured they were a spider egg-sac…until I poked them with my spider-killer stick. I didn’t think to get a photo, I just got them out and squished. Now I’m curious if they are in our other towers. No damage to the plant or the potatoes, but still.

Last but certainly not least, the weeds and grass have really been loving this weather. We covered all the levels with lumber tarp to keep the weeds out of our new beds, but everywhere else is thick. The “grass” at the bottom of the yard is almost so nice that we could mow it. It’s not the thick, brittle, wild grass anymore. It is now a lush, soft carpet. It looks beautiful when trimmed, but crazy wilderness when it has been a few weeks. K gets down there with the weed-whacker and smacks it down to a normal height. Our yard goes from wild to looking well kept very quickly. The few areas that weeds grow need to be plucked regularly, otherwise they quickly take over an area. We also have some natural vines that take over our top walls and try to climb our beautiful cedar trees. We have to keep those under control otherwise they weave between the wall and become very difficult to remove.

We are looking forward to the days when the yard is well setup and a little less weeding is required. It will always be a lot of work, which we enjoy, but we would rather enjoy the cultivation of our plants rather than some of the other things that we are having to manage right now.

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