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Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Here at American Woman magazine, we don’t have a gardening editor. That’s because Trimedia, our parent company has several magazines exclusively devoted to gardening. What we do have is our resident Earth Mother, decorating editor Jeanie Sims. Today Jeanie steps out of the decorating world and rants about something familiar to all suburban home owners. -- AP

Thanks, Anastasia! You know that saying in the Bible about the meek inheriting the Earth? As we say in New Jersey, fuggedaboutit. If my yard is any indication, the Earth will be inherited by rabbits, squirrels, weeds, and Devil’s Dip Stick.

Even though all the trees on my property, save one, have died and been removed or come down in storms  over past few years, my yard is still Squirrel Mecca. They come from miles around to feast on my garden. Nothing stops them. As for the rabbits, they’ve built an entire city under my back deck. What the squirrels don’t find tasty, the rabbits do. And once again, absolutely nothing I do to evict them works. They’re so fearless, that you can walk right up to them, and they won’t veer from their nibbling.

Then there are the weeds. I spend hours weeding (and wondering why I bother because the weeds never have time to choke the plants since the rabbits and squirrels are eating all of them!) only to have the darned things reappear the next day. Of course it doesn’t help that the people who moved in next door do absolutely nothing to maintain their yard, and all their weed seeds are constantly blowing over onto my property. Seems to me, if you want to own a home, you have an obligation to keep that home and its surrounding yard properly maintained. If not, buy a condo and pay HOA fees to have someone else do it for you.

But of all the problems I am facing this summer, the worst is the Devil’s Dip Stick. Never heard of it? Devil’s Dip Stick is a mushroom that looks like an inflamed male member (see photo.) I kid you not. It’s even got white balls growing under the soil, not to mention brown ooze spilling forth from the top. And it seems to love my flower and vegetable beds. I believe the invasion started last year with a batch of tainted mulch containing the fungus spores. As careful as I am digging them up, to avoid spreading more spores, the more persistent the little buggers are. It’s enough to make this Earth Mother yearn for an apartment in the city.

And if you know Jeanie, that’s something. She hates concrete and highrises! Thanks for the rant, Jeanie. I’m sure many of our readers can commiserate with you. So how about it? What’s your worst yard nemesis? Let’s hear from you. Post a comment to be eligible for a free book this week from our Book Club Friday guest author. -- AP


TJ Brown said...

Nice shroom. Tainted mulch ruined my life... I bought some several years ago and have the evil red clover in all my flower beds.

Caridad Pineiro said...

LOL! I've seen these growing here and there. As for gardening this year, what the drought didn't kill the deer ate. Even the wood chuck is back and now he has the audacity to come up and eat the tomatoes in my container gardens!

Becke Davis said...

I've never noticed those growing here in Cincinnati. We get jimsonweed instead - it's a beautiful weed that's also a deadly hallucinogen.

Carolyn Wright said...

Hmmm, I've never seen a devil's dip stick before. My only garden is in containers and they're filled with weeds too. The front beds, the mulch is little red rocks and there are no weeds growing in those beds...


TJ, I've never heard of evil red clover, but it sounds horrible!

Caridad, I haven't seen any deer or woodchucks yet, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time.

Becke, send that jimsonweed this way. Maybe the squirrels and rabbits will eat it and take a trip -- out of Jeanie's yard!

Carolyn, you never know what new and exciting things you'll find at Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers!

Jill McCullough said...

My biggest garden nemesis has been ground bees - Ack!!! Last summer I busted through a nest while weeding. Ended up stung with a sprained ankle from leaping back to get away from the little buggers!

Nancy C said...

Fire ants ... no other words necessary :-)


Ground bees and fire ants? Yikes! At least Devil's Dip Stick doesn't bite or sting. Jill and Nancy, you should both stay out of the yard.

Theresa N. said...

I've saw a few of these in my life time but didn't know they where a mushroom or what to call them.
Theresa N

J Hali said...

Goodness, I've never seen one of these! I planted various colors of morning glory all over my back yard and they're vining up the side of my house! The flowers are so beautiful, I couldn't resist.

vikkibakus said...

I dunno Lois, it's a cross between sci-fi and erotica, lol! As for my community garden, we've been blessed. The heat's been a culprit although complaints have been minimal. Last year's nemesis, the groundhog aka:'pig' has left our garden to grow. But to be sure, my organic gardener friend said to take human hair and toss around the perimiter of the garden. I did and low and behold-it worked.

Anne Walradt said...

I always heard these fungi called stinkhorns. A friend who spotted one in my yard said that Victorian gardeners were sent out early in the morning to destroy them before the young ladies went for walks.
We've got groundhogs under the deck. But I can tolerate nearly everything but the poison ivy.