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Oo La La! Breakfast With Ciscoe!

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Vol. 14, No. 33, February 18, 2002

Oo La La! Breakfast With Ciscoe!

Morris, Kopczynski, Martin, Dykstra
Ciscoe Morris talks with Cary Kopczynski (hidden), Paul Martin, and Kelly Dykstra after Friday’s meeting.

Ciscoe Morris, master gardener and TV/radio personality, needed no introduction to most of his audience Friday morning. He recently retired from Seattle U as grounds manager, a post he’s held since the late ‘70’s. Now, he is devoting his time to broadcasting and making the occasional visit to Rotary Clubs.

It seems that Mr. Morris and the BBRC have one thing in common:- they like getting up in the morning! He jumped right in, going for the jugular with a pronouncement that “I like to work in the garden without using poisons.” He opened with a story called ”If You Have a Deer In Your Yard, It’s Like Having a 250-Pound Slug!” He was asked on his radio program how to control the deer eating a lady’s rose bushes and he recommended a 7-foot fence. He got a phone call from another lady who said “a 7-foot fence won’t work; you gotta use coyote urine.” “I decided to conduct a research project on my own in a garden in Issaquah. I found out you must acquire some sponges, dip them in this liquid stuff, and place them around the garden. It was like marking territory, which was supposed to turn the deer away. I did this as directed, but it wasn’t long before the lady called me agitated and said, ‘Get the coyote pee out of my garden!’ It seems that the urine comes from coyotes in heat, and she had 12 male dogs living in her backyard. She said the dogs ain’t going nowhere and they sang love songs all night long! I gathered up the sponges and ended the research project. Did the coyote stuff stop the deer? You’d think with all the dogs lying around the backyard, the deer would back off, but the dogs couldn’t care less … they were in love!”

Ciscoe Morris
Ciscoe Morris with the Scarecrow

After the peals of laughter drifted away, Ciscoe changed direction and introduced the Scarecrow, a device that you hook to a hose and shoots a 65-foot stream of water at the deer when they come onto your property. To be effective, the device must be moved often. It also works on raccoons trying to get at the Koi. While it deters the raccoons, it doesn’t stop the herons from eating the Koi. It’s hard to keep them out!

Turning his attention to moles, Ciscoe reminded Rotarians that it’s illegal to trap the messy critters, so no gripping traps. But, “you can utilize impaling traps … the Victor Trap is one of these. It skewers instead of gripping.” A good cat will catch so many moles you may not need a trap. There is a lot of folklore surrounding ridding your property of moles, e.g., crushed mint, putting the sprigs on the mound – I don’t think it works; or a tablespoon of garlic down each mole hole. The Italian moles like it a lot!

Ciscoe took up the battle against slugs. “How many slugs would you say are in each Western Washington garden? An astounding 6,000 slugs is average. Slug baits become a very big problem. These are pretty dangerous poisons. In just one summer, a three-year old child died, along with 280 dogs, and 14 cats, after consuming these heavily used slug poisons.”

Instead of using Deadline, Go West, and some of the other products on the market, Ciscoe introduced three new Slug killers. Sluggo and Escargot are two of them. Their active ingredient is iron phosphate. “You can use it right in your veggie garden and it’s perfectly safe. Just a tablespoon around plants. The slugs won’t die, they just disappear. You can use beer traps …1/2 inch of beer in a container in the spring. In fall, you need deeper beer. All beers are not equal. One beer that they love is Heidelberg Beer … .it’s the best …you can hear the slugs yodel!

Ciscoe revealed he’s devised a little trick called “Slimy Diner.” “Just nail two 1 x 4’s together to form a roof and put your beer trap underneath it. Then you don’t have to see all the slugs after they’ve visited the diner. Remember, you’re asking 6,000 slugs to stop at Happy Hour before they get to the diner. Put a lid on stop of the beer trap with a rock on top to keep the family pets from getting into the beer.”

“You’ve heard of the “eek-squish-bug,” the kind that causes people to say “Eek!” followed by a squish as they step on them. This is not good, because these are ground beetles which are one of the slug’s mortal enemies. They have bad breath, because they eat slugs.”

Beneficial insects:

“Once I caught 40 ground beetles in a big beer trap. It’s not a good idea. You need to keep the beer trap covered so the dogs won’t drink it. Here’s another trick. I just bought a beautiful bare root hosta … beautiful pure white … $30 it cost. Slugs love Hostas, so I’ve found that a foot-long roll of plastic with copper foil attached works, placed 3-1/2 inches deep around the plant. The slug tries to go up the copper tape, but it’s a mollusk …  its stomach is its foot. When the slug starts climbing, contact with the copper foil creates static electricity! It gives them a shock and they head for your neighbor’s place! Boy, it’s great watching their little beady eyes go buggy when they come in contact with the copper!”

“Now, there’s the Jimmy Durante bug … 1/4 inches long with a big nose. This is the big one that chews on your Rhody leaves during the night. Without using poison, I go buy some Nematodes, make sure the soil temperature is at least 55 degrees, and put the Nematodes around the Rhodies. The Nematodes go down into the soil and eat the larvae of the Durante bug. Works like a charm.”

“On my radio shows, I refer to one way to terminate bugs by using ‘El Kabotsky,’ squishing the little critters between your thumb and forefinger. I had a gentlemen email me wanting to know if we were related … he signed the mail Kabotsky.”

“I caution you: when you go out at night with flashlights to find the bugs, let the neighbors and the authorities know. Early in my career at Seattle U, I went out to our Rhody garden to clobber the Durante bug. I neglected to tell anybody, and the campus cops caught me and hauled me in. I didn’t mind the incarceration, but the news story the next day had the headline ‘Little Guy Found in Bushes.’”

The subject was roses – on the Oregon Trail. “The pioneers brought roses with them to plant when they reached their destination. A lot of people died on the way, and the survivors planted their roses on the prairie. Almost every one of those is alive today. I think we handle our roses wrong. If we cut out the stems to 6 inches, we’re cutting out the best of the plant. No matter how many canes – keep as many as you want. Cut to a 1/3 or 1/2 way down. Your rose will gain strength as you go along. Every five years, whack it down to 4 inches.”

Bob Mckorkle
Bob McKorkle introducing Ciscoe

“To feed your roses, use horse feed! Go to the feed store and get some alfalfa meal. This stuff has growth regulators and the roses are told to bloom like crazy … and they do! I prune my roses on March 1st. Oh, and don’t breathe the alfalfa meal. It’s pretty strong stuff. Keep it in a metal can, which keeps out the mice. With alfalfa meal, roses will bloom like you’ve never seen before. When blooms start to fade, cut off a few, but not all. They were meant to raise hips. If you take off all the hips, it’s like telling the rose that having children is a bad thing. That’s what they live for – to produce hips!”

“Climbing roses: wrap and bend them around the trellis. Cut out old canes back to the graft. When the new flexible canes come up, just wrap them around in the trellis. They bloom like this and will go crazy, and you’ll get a more even distribution of blooms.”

Q & A Time:

How much can I prune off my Rhodies?
Most Rhodies you can cut 6 inches in one shot. Cut most anywhere you want. If they’re in too much shade, they get leggy. Another little unknown item: Dig a big trench around the Rhody … fill with planting soil. Cut them way down, and they come back with purple flowers.

Morris, Goldfarb
President Steve Goldfarb presents Ciscoe Morris with “lunch.”

Is it Clem-atis or Clemitis?
It’s clematis, emphasis on the first syllable. Clematis has a new fungus we’ve discovered … a kind of blight. Move it to the sunniest area you’ve got and that should solve the problem. Buy Gypsy Queens … a bunch of different ones that are fungus free.

Whew! That was some workout, trying to keep up with Mr. Ciscoe Morris. It’s been some time since we’ve laughed our way through a program. Good show, Ciscoe, and thanks! Thanks also to Bob McKorkle for his introduction.

President Goldfarb presented Ciscoe with a sack lunch, containing this three favorite foods: broccoli, brussel sprouts, and chocolate chip cookies. He also received a certificate showing the BBRC had purchased 700 pounds of food in his name through Rotary First Harvest.