Novice surfer mas­ters pro move: Punch­ing a shark to es­cape it

Yuma Sun - - DESSERT LIFE -

and the craze soon spread to Eng­land and Amer­ica. By the 1920s, the bearded iris ranked No. 3 as most pop­u­lar peren­nial grown in Amer­i­can gar­dens.

Like all crazes, the iris’s pop­u­lar­ity slowly faded; and to­day, al­though bearded irises are still grown by gar­den­ers, many peo­ple are un­aware of their beauty or their long and in­ter­est­ing his­tory.

My cousin, Bill, who has grown bearded irises for many years and has even bred and named his own unique cul­ti­vars, was happy to share some of his tips for grow­ing them.

“Liv­ing in south­ern Idaho, the weather is per­fect for grow­ing bearded irises. The num­ber of bloom col­ors is end­less … it’s like grow­ing a rain­bow,” Bill said. “Bearded irises are good for peo­ple who have lit­tle time to gar­den be­cause they don’t need a lot of care and are drought­tol­er­ant.

“In the desert, plant rhi­zomes dur­ing Oc­to­ber or Novem­ber once tem­per­a­tures are be­low 90 de­grees. Be­fore plant­ing new rhi­zomes, swish them in wa­ter with 10 per­cent bleach added and rinse them off in fresh wa­ter. This will kill any or­gan­isms that might cause dis­ease later on. Soak the rhi­zomes for 48 hours in fresh wa­ter be­fore plant­ing in or­der to speed sprout­ing. In the desert, irises need at least six hours of sun daily but re­quire af­ter­noon shade to pre­vent sun­burn. Up north, irises can be planted in full sun.”

Bill rec­om­mended plant­ing rhi­zomes in pre­pared soil that has been loos­ened and amended with a lown­i­tro­gen fer­til­izer. A good soil com­bi­na­tion is onethird gar­den soil, one-third sand and one-third com­post. The soil pH should be close to neu­tral, and the soil needs to be loose enough to pro­vide good drainage.

“To plant, dig a hole about a foot in di­am­e­ter and four inches deep. Mound the soil in the cen­ter of the hole so that when the hole is filled, the top of the rhizome is cov­ered with about an inch of soil to pre­vent sun­burn. Up north, the top of the rhizome is left ex­posed when plant­ing,” Bill ex­plained. “The mound helps drain ex­cess wa­ter away from the rhizome’s roots so they don’t rot. Sprin­kle one ta­ble­spoon Triple Su­per Phos­phate (0-45-0) or bone meal over the mound and place the rhizome on top of the mound, spread­ing its roots over the sides.”

Bill noted the plant’s roots grow ahead of the rhizome while its leaves, grow­ing at the op­po­site end of the rhizome, lean away. A newly planted iris will take one to two years to bloom, de­pend­ing upon the rhizome’s size.

“When in bloom, a green, bul­bous seed pod forms at the bot­tom of each flower. It is best to cut off these im­ma­ture seed pods once flow­er­ing is done, un­less you wish to grow rhi­zomes from the tiny seeds nes­tled in­side the pods. By re­mov­ing the seed pods, the plant can put its full en­ergy into grow­ing a larger rhizome with healthy roots and leaves.”

Bill has of­ten crossed irises to cre­ate new flower col­ors.

“I use a tooth­pick to scrape pollen off the three gell-cov­ered mounds in­side the flower and place that pollen on a flower from a dif­fer­ent col­ored iris. I tie a string around the pol­li­nated flower’s stem to re­mind me which pods I need to col­lect later on. Once the pol­li­nated flower dies, the seed pod grows larger and larger. When the pod is fully ma­ture, it turns light brown and hard­ens. I cut off the dried seed pod and open it on a news­pa­per. The pod splits into three sec­tions filled with tiny, black seeds.”

Bill rec­om­mends let­ting the seeds dry overnight be­fore stor­ing them in an empty pill bot­tle un­til time to plant in the fall.

“I write the names of the two iris va­ri­eties I crossed on the out­side of the bot­tle. Be­fore plant­ing the seeds in spring, I soak them overnight to soften the outer coat­ing to speed sprout­ing time.”

“There is noth­ing as ex­cit­ing as watch­ing your own seedlings sprout and dis­play new col­ors of flow­ers,” Bill stated. “How­ever, you will have to be pa­tient be­cause it takes seeds sev­eral years to pro­duce plants ready to bloom. Sooner or later, you will be gifted with a new and un­usual color you cre­ated, and that is re­ally ex­cit­ing. Of course, the fastest method is to plant ma­ture rhi­zomes.”

To pre­pare plants for bloom­ing, in Fe­bru­ary, ap­ply Scott’s Su­per Bloom (12-55-6) every two weeks ac­cord­ing to pack­age di­rec­tions. By mid-March, bearded irises be­gin bloom­ing and will bloom through May. Con­tinue fer­til­iz­ing through­out the bloom­ing sea­son and two weeks af­ter bloom­ing is done.

When wa­ter­ing, a mois­ture me­ter can help main­tain cor­rect soil damp­ness, since too much wa­ter will rot the rhi­zomes. In­sert the mois­ture probe into the soil to its full depth to make sure the irises’ roots are get­ting ad­e­quate wa­ter. Their leaves do not die like tulips or hy­acinths, and once bloom­ing is fin­ished, the plants con­tinue grow­ing through­out sum­mer.

Every three or four years, you will need to di­vide your iris clumps. De­creased num­ber of blooms, fewer leaves, and rhi­zomes push­ing out of the ground are all signs it’s time to di­vide. Wait un­til fall to di­vide iris clumps. Dig up the rhi­zomes, trim the leaves to six inches and cut off old or rot­ten por­tions. If a rhizome feels soft, throw it away. Cut the rhi­zomes into three-inch pieces, leav­ing a fan of leaves and roots at­tached to each piece. Re-plant cut pieces and share any ex­tras with fel­low gar­den­ers.

Tuc­son Area Iris So­ci­ety, TAIS, holds an an­nual iris sale the end of Septem­ber and sells mem­ber-grown rhi­zomes. You might want to pur­chase a few plants for your gar­den at their sale. Check tuc­soniris.org for more in­for­ma­tion.

These easy-care plants can re­ward you with beau­ti­ful blooms in a rain­bow of col­ors.

Happy gar­den­ing!

CANBERRA, Aus­tralia — A novice surfer mas­tered a pro’s move on the first try: He punched a shark on the nose to es­cape its jaws.

The at­tack Mon­day af­ter­noon off the Aus­tralian coast left Char­lie Fry with su­per­fi­cial punc­ture wounds on his right shoul­der and up­per arm.

A Bri­tish doc­tor who ar­rived in Aus­tralia two months ago to work, Fry said Tues­day he had re­cently watched a YouTube video in which Aus­tralian pro­fes­sional surfer Mick Fan­ning de­scribed his fa­mous es­cape from a great white shark dur­ing a surf­ing com­pe­ti­tion in 2015.

“So when it hap­pened, I was like: ‘Just do what Mick did. Just punch it in the nose,’” Fry told Nine Net­work tele­vi­sion. “So Mick, if you’re watch­ing or lis­ten­ing, I owe you a beer. Thank you very much.”

Fry, 25 and a surf­ing be­gin­ner, was in the wa­ter with three doc­tor friends when he was at­tacked off Avoca Beach, 90 kilo­me­ters (60 miles) north of Syd­ney.

“I was out surf­ing and I got this mas­sive thud on my right-hand side; it com­pletely blind­sided me,” Fry said.

“I thought it was a friend goof­ing around. I turned and I saw this shark come out of the wa­ter and breach its head,” he said.

“So I just punched it in the face with my left hand and then man­aged to scram­ble back on my board, shout at me friends and luck­ily a wave came, so I just sort of surfed the wave in,” he added.

Fry said he wasn’t con­scious of his in­jured and bleed­ing arm un­til he reached the shore.

“I didn’t re­ally no­tice it at the time be­cause when you’re surf­ing, all I’m think­ing was: ‘I’m about to die. I’m lit­er­ally about to die,’” Fry said.

“So I thought ... ‘get in as fast as pos­si­ble, ride the wave for as long as you can and then just start paddling for your life,’” he added.

Fry’s friends drove him to Gos­ford Hos­pi­tal, where they all worked, to be treated. The beach was closed for 24 hours.

Life­guards spot­ted the 3-me­ter (10-foot) shark that at­tacked Fry close to shore and would use drones on Tues­day to check that it had left the area, Aus­tralian Broad­cast­ing Corp. re­ported.

Fry said he could not re­turn to the ocean for a week due to his in­juries, but “af­ter then, I’ll be rac­ing to get back in.”

Fan­ning was com­pet­ing at the J-Bay Open in South Africa two years ago when he was knocked off his board by a shark yet es­caped un­scathed. The video of the at­tack and Fan­ning speak­ing about it has been viewed more than 24 mil­lion times on YouTube.

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