The Weather Service tells us it’s COLD out there! We noticed, already… 😀 Temps are supposed to go down to 35 tonight and 33 tomorrow night. They’ve revised Wednesday’s 32-degree forecast upward, to a balmy 33. That optimism notwithstanding, they’ve issued a frost warning.
I engineered this change in our weather fortunes singlehandedly: by purchasing a Ficus benjamina and planting it in the pot recently vacated by the sickly rubber plant. Ficus, as you may know, is frost-sensitive. But I’d already subjected it to potentially killing stress a couple days ago…really, it’ll be an amazing surprise if that thing lives to see the middle of March.
Well, to get this new ornamental house-tree into the gigantic pot I wanted to put it in, I needed Gerardo the Wonder Lawn Dude’s help. The rubber plant reached up to the roof, and I figured it would be too large and heavy for me to manage. The plan was to ask him to pull out that plant whenever he next came around.
Meanwhile, SDXB called and invited himself over, craving company and some kind of time-killing junket. Couple days ago, he surfaced at 9 a.m. sharp, ready to roll.
Naturally, Gerardo and his boys showed up just as SDXB did. I asked them not only to extirpate the moribund rubber plant but also to install the newly purchased ficus in its huge ceramic pot. This was, we could justly say, a mistake. What is the matter with me?
Was there some reason I could not have figured out, beforehand, that Gerardo is a landscape maintenance dude, not a nurseryman? Why would I imagine he would know anything about how to pot a plant? Or how to transplant a potted plant from Pot 1 to Pot 2? Whaaa?
In the first place, they busted the rolling stand the thing perches on. So he took the wheels off it, placed the remains of the top on the ground, and plopped the pot on top of it. On the deck, where it belongs? Where it’s sheltered by the patio roof? Hell, no: they left it on the surface next to the deck, where the plant would get the full blast of sun and frost.
With the dirt, the plant, and water in it, I could not even budge the pot, much less lift it six inches and leverage it into place on the deck. The thing was so heavy, I couldn’t even scoot it onto the dolly so as to try to leverage it up on that thing. Need we be reminded that ficus is frost-sensitive?
Come Wednesday, that plant promises to be a dead ficus.
Its only hope was for me to pull it out of the pot. dig the dirt out of the pot , then lift the pot onto the deck. Then refill the pot and replant the ficus.
To do that, though, I had to drive way to hell and gone up to Home Depot and buy a new rolling plant stand thingie to replace the deceased. That of course consumed an hour of the day.
And the rest of the day? Fully cannibalized by the replanting project.
I had to dig the soggy, wet dirt out from around the plant’s root ball, dump it into the wheelbarrow, lift out the plant and set it aside, then dig out the rest of the even soggier, wetter dirt and deposit that in the barrow. Then and only then was the huge blue ceramic pot “light” (hah!) enough for me to lift.
In the process, I found Gerardo’s guys had recycled the dirt from the rubber plant, dumping it back into the pot. And lo! What should I find dwelling in the stuff but nice, big, fat paloverde beetle grubs. Three of ’em. Shee-ut!
Welp, that’s three fewer paloverde beetles to depredate the land. And it explains what ailed the rubber plant — the things eat the roots of plants growing where Mom lays her eggs.
Next, I needed to apply some of the insecticide that is believed to at least make a small dent on this creature’s ever-growing population. But, too tired at the end of the day to continue, decided to put that chore off.
Til today, for example?
Not so much. With hysterical FROST WARNINGS emanating from the government and the media, I figured I’d better drag the smaller potted plants inside and then cover the larger ones — including the twice-transplanted ficus — with drop cloths.
This, it developed, turned into one bitch of an all-day project.
To start with, several of the shop lights I use to warm the air around the potted plants that have to be left outside on cold nights had gone missing. I needed two more. Plus lightbulbs to go in them. Plus some other bits and pieces of junk. Sooo…it was back to Home Depot…again.
Came away with those and some 100-watt incandescents (these new damned LED lights not only fail to emit light that doesn’t hurt your eyes, they fail to emit warmth). Every time I spot incandescent bulbs, I grab a bunch to add to my stash. In-fuckin’-furiating!
I also bought a new Kwikset deadbolt to replace the one the locksmith claimed was jamming because the key was worn out. Galloping Bull Shit, that: the lock jammed again yesterday. And the other two locks, which also work with the same key, operate with no problem. So now I’ve got to get a locksmith over here to install that, to my annoyance. Later.
Back at the Funny Farm… I had forgotten how much work it is to hang all those frost covers. Seven or eight of them, most of which have to be tied up or tied down, with the help of a ladder, a hammer, a box of nails, and a bag of curtain rings. It’s been quite awhile since we’ve had a hard frost here — five or six years, at least. And during that time I’ve grown, well…commensurately older. Dragging that ladder and all those old sheets around and climbing up and down and up and down and up and down and zip-tying and hooking and farting around is a great deal more tiring in 2020 than it was the last time I did it.
None of these tergiversations were helped by cold gusts of wind, which came up in the afternoon. Every time I’d get a length of cloth in place, the wind would pick it up before I could tie it or weight it down with a rock. So, many a haul and a stretch and a throw had to be done two or three times.
I’m afraid I’m finally beginning to feel my age. Which is, we might say, considerable.