Archived Story

It’s ‘toad furniture’ time [UPDATED]

Published 7:54am Monday, June 18, 2012 Updated 12:12pm Monday, June 18, 2012

Toadstools are popping up all over Bunkey’s neighborhood. While most people aren’t bothered by toad furniture, George’s wife, Sally, simply hates them. Her mantra is “what will people think.”

As soon as she sees one, she has poor George out there digging up the lawn looking for the dead wood the toadstools are feeding on.

He has dug as deep as four feet while attempting to find the food source.

Most often, it is the dead root of a tree, although, in new developments, it can be a hunk of 2-by-4 or a piece of trim that was flawed or too short, or any oxne of bits of wood discarded during building.

Most people simply rake the offending growths up or mow them down.

Unless you can dig up the food source, they will return each year until the wood is totally decayed.

Whatever you do, do not attempt to eat any mushrooms or toadstools you find in your lawn, unless you are an expert at identifying them.

People die every year from eating misidentified mushrooms.

Irises are in full flower now, making it the right time to mark the clumps that need thinning or discarding.

If all your irises are the old fashioned small, sort of muddy ones, throw them out. There are so many beautiful hybrid irises available that it is a gardener’s sin to have ugly ones taking up space.

Iris multiplies quite rapidly and need thinning every 3 to 5 years.

While it can be a bit labor intensive, the reward is more garden space and more blooms per clump. Dig the whole glob up (in August) then pull them apart.

You don’t have to be careful as the rhizomes are tough. Discard any rhizome that doesn’t have a healthy fan of leaves on it.

To replant, build a mound of soil then space your rhizomes in a circle with the “toes” pointing out.

Cover the roots but leave a bit of the rhizome exposed. They like to sunbathe.

You will have piles of iris to exchange, or, in the case of the non-hybrid plants, throw in the dump. If you have had problems with iris borer, discard all but the firmest, healthiest looking rhizome.

Never put diseased iris on a compost pile. It will only encourage the worm.

Stop taking rhubarb about the middle of the month.

Like everything else, it was early this year. Since rhubarb is a heavy feeder, give it a good meal of compost or, better yet, composted manure.

Dig it in around the plant and water well.

Give it another feeding early next spring just as it pokes its’ nose out of the soil. This will ensure many more years of pies.

The lesson for the day is: don’t get your kickers in a knot over toadstools, instead, enjoy your iris, even if you have the ugly ones that will have to be dug up and replaced.

After all, you won’t have to deal with them until August.


Bev Johnson is a master gardener in Ottertail County.

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