Tom's and Char's comments about borers prompted a few thoughts.
Because of my numerous medical (mis-)adventures over the past three and a
half years I seem to have built up a monumental population of the critters.
I thought I'd put on enough Merit to control--and the area treated did have
fewer than the untreated areas. It was by no means borer-free, however.
I also noted, as has been commented upon in the past, that there seem to be
more borer attacks under overhanging plants. I did some drastic pruning
this summer as a result of this observation.
Among the seedlings, sadly not treated, the losses are horrendous. Even
some small ones still in their germination cans were hit and died after the
foundation under the foliage was devoured.
Some seedlings, however, are thriving. Could they be borer resistant? I've
seen it proposed that those of us in borer country let the buggers have at
it in the seedlings, and breed from the survivors. I seem to be doing so by
accident rather than purpose, but I'll take what I get. I don't have any
choice in the matter, since the damage is done (or being done).
The small, hard rhizomes of the diploid MTB's may have their relative
resistance due as much to size as to flavor or other resistance factors.
There are TB's that are just as healthy--a fact worthy of note. If there is
resistance out there, this is one (sad) way to discover it.
My daughter, son-in-law and I dug out over a hundred borers in a few rows in
reselect seedlings and best named things, but ran out of steam and time
before getting any farther. Even so, I see some fans down in the area we
thought clean. We missed some.
Tom, the borer doesn't start out big and pink. They are quite tiny when
they first start in, and in those we dug out of fans that weekend the kids
were here were all sizes. Apparently the borers hatch over a period of
time. The typical ones were about as thick as a pencil line, and not over a
half-inch long. Some were quite a bit larger, some we never did find, but
did eliminate simply by slicing off the fan below the area damaged.
I cringe everytime I look at the "garden." It is a wasteland, and my
temptation is simply to dig out the worst affected areas, sort out the
surviving fragments of irises and replant them after a thorough inspection
and cleaning. I haven't the energy to start such a project right now--only
two weeks out from under three surgical procedures back-to-back. I feel
great as long as I don't *do* anything.
Even "lurking" on Iris-talk has been a slow process to initiate. By now
I've read all or most of the posts I'd missed, I think, and found the
threads quite interesting--in small doses. I read a few each day. Catching
up on e-mail is just as slow. Walking down to the mailbox to check if the
*Bulletin* has come yet does motivate me, a little. It's the walk *back*
that is a challenge.
Neil Mogensen z 7, Reg. 4 mountains of western NC.
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