Vines come down

I know I keep mentioning the mild start to our winter, but it's been making a big difference in my garden. One benefit is that I've been able to clean up the yard at a more leisurely pace -- which is great because I was concerned how exactly I'd be able to get it all done this fall. Something I tackled last week was cleaning up some of the annual vine remnants.


In previous years this was something I might have left until later in the winter -- something to do in the garden on those mild days that seem to pop up every year in January or February before the normal cold temperatures return. This year though I figured I'd pull them down now so I don't have to look at them all winter.

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So I worked on this small pergola over the triangular planting box next to the driveway. The main vine here this year was Malabar spinach:


There were two plants of this, and it was really beautiful during the summer. I had intended on eating it, but never had more than a taste as it was too mucilaginous for me. Now it's just strings of dried berries and seeds. I'm not sure if they're fully ripe, but there are gazillions of them. I don't worry about them spreading when I pull the vines down because they've already done that -- I'm pretty sure I'll have these seedlings all over this area in the spring.

I don't know why I'm always surprised at the number of seeds that annual vines create. That is their only goal in life.

I am also always surprised by how thick an annual vine's stem can get in just a few months:


The one in this blurry photo was thicker than my gloved finger!

Although Malabar spinach was the main vine here (two of the three pergola legs were covered with it) there was also a mixture of cypress vine and red currant tomato:


This was a tomato that I was pretty excited about -- tomatoes the size of berries -- but it turned out to be rather impractical for me, and many of the tiny tomatoes shriveled on the vine.


Hey, there's my suet feeder! I've been looking for that so I could hang it up again.

Once the vines were down, I was reminded that the wood really needs to be stained again, as it's getting pretty beat up by the vines:


Then a careful inspection of all sides of each board revealed...


Yes! Another mantis egg case! Just what I was hoping to find!


I removed it and put it into the jar in the refrigerator with the other one I found in my fireplace. Now I'll have even more mantis babies to scatter throughout the garden next year!

I should point out that it's imperative that I remove this egg case after exposing it (by clearing away the vines). I left one egg case here one year, and my cleanup allowed the birds to find the case and peck it to pieces.


So one of the most visible areas of my garden is already tidy, ready for the spring. Plus bonus mantis eggs. I'm glad I did this job early this year!

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Gerhard Bock  – (December 28, 2011 at 11:32 AM)  

What a difference! I'm about to tackle some early clean-up projects, too.

Christine @ The Gardening Blog  – (December 28, 2011 at 12:00 PM)  

Hmmm, what would happen if you didn't clean it up?

Alan @ It's not work, It's gardening!  – (December 28, 2011 at 4:24 PM)  

Christine: they would eventually crumble I guess, but I'd still need to pull down the woodier parts in the spring. Since they're annuals, they're completely dead.

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