Shiva, feared destroyer of petunias

moldy dusty rose petuniasGetting into gardening this late in the season has its advantages. No neurotically wondering whether my planting techniques will work, plus the harvest is already here. Also, it activates my natural zest for destruction. I felt just like Shiva, pulling up bed after bed of petunias all day. Except does Shiva have those little twinges of guilt at destroying something beautiful?

These little guys had white mold, otherwise known as Sclerotinia sclerotiorum (all anyone ever wanted to know about its insidious life cycle here), and they had it bad. You’d be able to tell on the outside from tiny white fuzzballs all over, and the dead branches. Slit open the dead stalk, and you can see why the poor petunia gave up: the fungus forms little sclerotia, which look exactly like rat turds. Gardener Judy says the turds clog up the vascular system, so the plant dies of thirst.

My latest favorite vehicle, the mule. Here filled with moldy petunias.

My latest favorite vehicle, the mule. Here filled with moldy petunias.


Learning that about did away with my guilt over pulling up all those pretty flowers, though. Die, white mold, die!

Tomorrow, I am told, I will learn to till. How did I ever get by all these years without it?

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