Shawnee News-Star Weekender August 3 2019 Becky Emerson Carlberg This is the time of year when I retreat into air conditioning and watch the great outdoors from indoors.  Monday afternoon an isolated thunderstorm popped up over our house, but waited until it floated over Shawnee proper before raining. Four raindrops fell where I stood.  The […]

Shawnee News-Star Weekender August 3 2019

Morning in Gay Paree

Becky Emerson Carlberg

This is the time of year when Iretreat into air conditioning and watch the great outdoors from indoors.  Monday afternoon an isolated thunderstormpopped up over our house, but waited until it floated over Shawnee properbefore raining. Four raindrops fell where I stood.  The next morning was foggy!  The early sun was masked for a time by lowclouds, but reappeared with a vengeance and summer was back.

Bagworms intrigue me.  These guys have boom or bust cycles. There is a relationship between bagworms and redcedars in our area.  The bagworm larvae voraciously eat redcedar needles.  Sometimes the tree goes down.  Depending on your perspective, this could be good or sad.  In times of erratic weather episodes, stressed evergreens crash and give in to the demands of the future moths, but over time an equilibrium between the moth and the redcedar is attained. Nature's check and balance system at work.

Soft Brown Scale on Poinsettia Leaves

Not only are the bagworms busy,but fall webworms have also made their appearance.  White ghosts covering branches of trees.  Annoying, but tends not to hurt healthytrees. The webworms prefer persimmon trees, but can overdo it.  Some small trees may become totally wrappedin the tough impermeable web and wind up with nary a leaf.  This could lead to a potentially dangeroussituation if someone like my dad was around. He took torches soaked in gasoline and.not a great idea if hot, dry orwindy.  The ten-year-old-boy biologicalcontrol idea is better.  Get a bucket ofsoapy water and a large stick.  Pushstick into the web, twirl and dunk everything on stick into the bucket. Or justwait them out, knowing fall is on the way.

Daily scouting is a good way to detect problems with your plants.  I would be fired if I was a scout for a Wagon Train.  Usually something terrible needs to catch my attention, as did the Poinsettia.  Part of the plant had withered.  Brown soft scale attack.  The plant was pruned and scales on the stems and leaves were smashed as a scale deterrent or attractant for desirable predators.  Could work.

Pruned Blackberry

The blackberry stems had curledaround the cage wires in two places.  Theleaves were a deep green, but the unnatural angle indicated witches' broom, arosette fungus, had taken hold.  Rottenluck.  Remove infected canes.  Done. Remove all wild blackberry bushes invicinity.  Really?  No way. Osmocote granules, slow-release fertilizer, were scratched into thesurface around the base.  The plant wasgiven a good drink and told to be strong. I can't destroy the plant.  It came from my mom's house.  It's family.  

'I have never met an apple Idid not like' has been my motto for years until last Sunday.  The apples at my neighbor's house were layingon the ground untouched.  She said wecould have a few, but beware.  The treehad sprouted from the roots of an ornamental crab apple which had been backedinto by a car.  The green apples werenormal size and I figured they would be excellent cooking apples.  I figured wrong.

The apples were bitter as an unripe persimmon without the pucker, not sour as a Granny Smith.  Had the starch not been converted into sugar?  Did they contain a super high level of sour malic acid?  The apple flavor might improve with age as they develop on the tree, but at this stage they were ghastly.  To the compost pile.  Let the wildlife deal with them. 

Awful Apple

9 BILLION TONS OF PLASTIC WASTEEND UP IN THE OCEAN EVERY YEAR, even from Oklahoma. Help our sea critters. Useyour own reusable bags.  Refusesingle-use plastic bags.  It's thatsimple.

The 106th Tour deFrance ended last Sunday. Twenty-three days of men madly bicycling through thePyrenees and Alps, ending at the Champs-Elysees in Paris.  Over 2,200 miles.  Twenty-two teams, 8 members each (176 men),competed in 21 timed stages.  Each Tour stagewas like a separate race, with its own winner, prize money and points for thetop 15 riders. Each stage winner received $12,230. The cyclist with thequickest time from the start of the Tour wears the yellow jersey in the nextstage.  At the end of the Tour, theyellow jersey and $2.6 million was awarded to the cyclist with the fastest overalltime from the beginning of the race.  Thegreen jersey went to the best sprinter and time trialist, the white jersey tothe best rider under 26 years old and the red polka dot jersey to the riderwith the most points from the mountain stages.

Six of the mountain climbs, each over 6,000 feet, were in stages 18-20. The 19th stage was wild.  A heavy hailstorm pounded the French Alps, turning the mountains and roads dangerously white.  Road crews did not have enough time to clear the way for the leaders and the race was cancelled early.  Stage 20 the next day was shortened due to landslides and predicted storms. Stage 21 the riders arrived in Paris, did 8 laps on the Avenue of Champs-Elysees and the race was over.

Racers flying by the Arc de Triomphe

The competitors have been busyanalyzing their performances.  Two strongfavorites were unable to compete because of prior crashes.  The 22 years old Columbian Bernal was thethird youngest rider in history to win the yellow jersey and a lot of money.  The French hero Alaphilippe dominated theTour but lost it in the Alps.  The Dutchand Australian teams were strong.  SlovakianPeter Sagan won his 7th green jersey. Norwegians blamed their newenergy drink for their sluggishness, thinking it caused their bodies to retaintoo much water. The Irishman mused he was feeling good, then the lights wentout. 

July 6th the 2019 Tour de France began in Brussels, Belgium; in 2020 Nice, France and 2021 Copenhagen, Denmark. 

End of the Tour de France

What does this bike race haveto do with plants?  Plenty.  Europe has been in the grips of historicheat.  As the bicyclists rode through thecountryside, patchworks of fields, in production and fallow, surrounded eachvillage. Trees lined the roads and edged the pastures.  Soft wheat was being harvested, but grainharvest during the race had been halted in Oise, France.  Large fires had burned hundreds of acres,injuring many firemen and killing one farmer during the record heatwave.  Oise is the second largest grain-producingregion in France.  Corn, sunflowers,sugar beets, rapeseed, barley and soybeans are their summer crops.  Vineyards hug the hillsides.  Pictures show grape vines 'blowtorched' bythe heatwave. Grapes ripen soon, but wine production is predicted to be 10%less than last year.

The (Tour de) Rogers Cycling Festival was held last weekend in northwest Arkansas.   Once again in the Ozarks, my son and crew, with Rocco the water-loving Labrador, camped at Beaver Lake.   Three days, eight different races, with O-Cedar as one of the sponsors.   Winners were awarded the O-Cedar Easywring spin mop as part of the swag.   Talk about cleaning up at a race.

Rocco and his squirrel Camping Out

Next year, the yellow jersey atthe Tour de France!