Monday, October 5, 2009

Trouble with Tribbles

I am not a “trekkie!” Lets get that cleared up right away; I haven’t watched a single Star Trek movie, ever. Not that there is anything wrong with them, it’s just not my scene. As a kid however, in the days before cable television made it to our rural address, the viewing choices after school were limited; Gilligan’s Island, The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family, Bewitched and Star Trek. My brothers and I watched a lot of Star Trek. We all had our favorite episodes and I recall the The Trouble with Tribbles being an all around favorite.

For the last month or so I have been picking Euphorbia seedlings all over the garden. For some reason that name “the trouble with tribbles” pops into my head every time I see one of the seedlings. Maybe because they multiply just like the tribbles did. All of a sudden they are everywhere!
When the Euphorbia characias ssp wulfenii are in bloom (picture from spring below), towards the end of the bloom life, you can sometimes here an audible POP when you near them.
It took me a while to figure out where it was coming from. My theory is that the popping sound occurs as the seed is propelled away from the plant. I find these little guys everywhere. This one is a good 15 feet from the nearest Euphorbia.
I just spotted this one last weekend. Evidently it’s been growing for awhile as it is getting big.
Luckily they are easily identified and easy pulled. No tools required. Unless of course the make you feel good, like the tribbles did, in which case you can just leave them be.


  1. I wish I could take your extras. Those are stunning.

    I managed to pull a few Texas bluebonnet seedlings this morning when I was weeding nutgrass. Doh!

  2. Hi DG~~ This might be a good time to start accumulating stock for a plant sale. Pot them babies up and sell them for a buck a piece next spring. [Just my unsolicited two bits.]

    My hubby, although not a die hard Trekkie, has fond memories of setting aside one evening a week to watch Captain Kirk, et al, and their ridiculous antics. Even now if we're channel surfing and happen upon an episode, I might as well give up the honey-do list. :]

  3. I will always watch a Star Trek rerun over most options, TV-wise. It's a trip down memory lane for me, too.

    My tribble nemesis is all the tiny red clover (oxalis?) seedlings that germinate in my beds along the fence adjoining my neighbor. He's the nicest guy, but doesn't have a clue about weed abatement, so the former planting bed on his side is just a weed patch that spills over into my side. Just arm me with a phaser (for the weeds, that is, not my neighbor.)

  4. We didn't have cable either, and TV was pretty limited by the folks so I think Star Trek must have been on during either their choir practice or their main gardening time on weekends. I remember being so hooked! Funny. I was a Spock gal myself. Euphorbias have always scared me a bit, but I did transplant one that grew as a seedling from the neighbors'. It doesn't have the showy flowers, maybe just as well! Seems to be behaving so far, pretty much. 15 ft., that's quite a range! Do the "babies" have that toxic milk like the big guys do? You are a brave one.

  5. Jane...phaser weeding...I like it. Even beats out the torch method, which (oh darn, now I can't remember her name, but the famous garden writer from WA) says will convince teenage boys to do your weeding for you. Loree, I have those all over the place too, but if I photographed them their surroundings would be much weedier than your beds.

  6. DG~~ Do you read Barbara's Garden Chronicles? [Blotanical] She features several Agaves from Plant Delights Nursery. Seeing them made me think of you.

  7. My exact thought re Grace-sell those babies. The plants all look so fresh ( I guess with the rains)

  8. Pam, stop on by...I am happy to share, or maybe trade! I'll take a couple agave pups off your hands!

    Grace, you know I had thought of this but not really seriously...maybe I should. Money coming in is a good thing! Thanks! And thank you for the tip on Barbara's Garden Chronicles, I will check it out!

    Jane, glad you specified what the phaser would be used on...we all have a version of that neighbor don't we?

    Karen, I agree...Spock was strangely sexy huh? No I've never had any issue with the sap on the seedlings. They might I suppose if I snapped the little stem and really tried to get some out...nasty stuff.

    ricki, it's the gravel! It really helps keep down the weeds.

    Nicole, ladies have convinced me! Now I just hope someone shows up for my spring plant sale! Could be fun!

  9. Oh, Loree - those Euphorbia babies just LOVE seeding in gravel! I had SO MANY re-seed in my front yard over the years that I was overrun, and I took them ALL out!
    So much of the magic and lushness of the garden went out with the Euphorbias! Thank goodness I had so many seedlings under the gravel, waiting to push up - soon I'll be in Euphorbia heaven again!
    I can't wait! What an AMAZING pic of the blooming one, btw -
    You and I are such plant twins, aren't we? XO!

  10. I'm counting on the euphorbias to help me fill in the bare spots. They were my first plants to self seed in the garden, and I've never gotten over thinking it was a miracle. Some day maybe it'll be too much and I'll regret it, but so far I'm happy when the babies show up. I do pull them if they're in the wrong spot, totally guilt free. I've never noticed the popping sound. Thanks to you, now you will find me standing outside listening to the euphorbia flowers in spring.


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