Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Larry, Moe, and Curly Prune a Cactus

What kind of cactus?  I don't know.  The kind that is BIG with prickly stuff on it - but not too spiky or I wouldn't have dared.

On Saturday Stubble, one of his friends, and I took on a HUGE cactus.  Well, huge for us.  Judging by the 6 foot tall stockade fence on top of a 2 foot high retaining wall that it was leaning against, the cactus was at least 9 feet high.    And just guessing by the sound of gushing water that came from underneath it every time the sprinklers were turned on, it had grown through something important.

Earlier in the week I had watched a video on an Arizona landscaper's website that described how to cut back a large cactus.  The process involves a pruning saw, a large piece of carpet, leather gloves, and patience.

The Bearded One (always ready to improve on procedures) suggested that our sawsall might be of use (there goes the patience part).  As it turns out, what the sawsall does is to turn the cactus to mush while making no appreciable progress at severing the desired section.  Sadly, the boys put away the power tool and the "Diablo" blades - chosen for their name rather than their usefulness...  The non- corded, non-battery powered pruning saw cut through the cactus in no time flat.

Comedy ensued as the three of us tried to use the pruning saw, control the portion of the cactus being cut, and keep everyone safe from the visciously toothed (and hugely overgrown) Aloe adjacent to the cactus.  All while balancing on the retaining wall.

Surprisingly nobody fell of the wall or had cactus land on their heads, but both Stubble and I were greviously wounded by the Aloe.

In a remarkably short time the desisred portion of the cactus was removed and we started on the irrigation.  I breathed a HUGE sigh of relief when we discovered that the damage was to a portion of drip line rather than to a sprinkler riser.  The cactus, not one to give up easily, held onto the drip line as we pulled and hauled at it.  After much sweating and cursing, we abandoned the drip line in place (under the cactus) and ran a new line which works just fine, thank you very much!

Our souveniers from the experience are about 300 pounds of cactus in the composting bin, a horrible sunburn on Stubble's shoulders ( I told him to use sunscreen), and battle scars from the aloe on all parts of our wrists and arms that weren't covered by leather.

I sincerely hope that every plant "downstream" from the cactus will be appropriately grateful for the repair when they are watered each month (during the summer -during the rainy season they are on their own).

For those of you who care about such things, from the internet search that I did after writing the major portion of this - the cactus is of the San Pedro variety - very fast growing and known for it's mescaline content.  (shhhhhhh!)

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