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Hands of mass frustration

September 14, 2018
By JOYCE COMINGORE - Garden Club of Cape Coral ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

My phone ringing was the skin specialist calling to let me know those two big holes in me with stitches from my biopsies had evidence of allergies. Just letting me know. (DUH!) I was covered with an itchy red rash we've been treating. My skin is dry, so I've been scratching like crazy. I've got creams, lotions, Dove beauty soap, non-fragrant laundry soap galore, even my dry eyes are affected. My friends, when they see me scratching, tell me to quit! My hands yield to my troubles.

I am of the opinion it is about being allergic to mangoes. I usually wash my hands immediately after peeling a mango. I can eat them, never had the blisters about my mouth, but when I worked in a plant nursery, I had slashes of blisters on my arms where the leaves of the trees we were selling brushed across them. I've known about this for a long time, I just got careless this year in not scrubbing my hands after touching mango skins. It's been a bumper year for my large mango tree out front, producing quantities, they littered my front lawn. People walking by would bring fruits to my door and put them on the bench there. My refrigerator became full. Tossing overripe mangoes became a habit. I didn't peel them fast enough, bag them and freeze them.

I ate several, peeling them, forgetting to scrub and was left with rashes everywhere I scratched my dry skin. Clear Calydryl has been my blessing. So, here I am, trying not to scratch. That alone can drive one crazy. My theory is, the urushiol substance underneath my nails contaminated my skin where I'd scratch. Mango rinds emit the allergens, urushiol, with green fruit having even more of the allergens that cause dermatitis than the ripe fruit.

I have been radically covered with poison ivy and unable to wear clothes in my past and I knew mangoes were related to poison ivy. They both belong to the same botanical family, Anacardiaceae, and both contain the urushiol substance that cause rashes. The cashew also belongs in that family. My past brushes with poison ivy have led me to blame my father for inheriting his poison ivy allergy. He was a soil scientist, working outdoors quite often. Even walking through or near an ivy patch, the oils in the air would send him looking for relief. He had to shower immediately after working.

Sorry if this is TMI (too much information), but it is always on my mind these days, can't seem to avoid it, I'm living it. Rainy days and skin rashes always get me down. I need the sunshine to boost my spirits and being able to move around outdoors, getting places. I do appreciate rain for growing plants and even cloudy days for giving plants a chance not to swim. Guess I need cheese with my whine.

Everything is growing leaps and bounds. September is the time to start thinking about your fall gardening. In the land of perpetual summer, we know by the start of school, organizations starting their new year and increased traffic with colorful license plates, fall has arrived, and come upon our nation.

As Tom MacCubbin states in Florida Gardening magazine, "What is Florida's official soil?" Of course, it's sand, but more that it is Myakka fine sandy soil, officially. That is only one third perfect planting soil. You need to add peat and organic matter to the soil to grow crops in a garden here. It's that time of year to soil prep for our main gardens.

Actual planting can be as late as October and early November, but my son-in-law, farmer Don (he's an environmental engineer) has his little grove growing in their south side yard. Four okra stalks are left over from last season, but he's made a special bed for herbs. He is sprouting seeds to plant the seedlings when they arise. Glad they like okra, and soon they will be able to enjoy fresh salads from their garden. They are very trim, healthy people because of their love of salads.

There is fencing around it now because of the pesky rabbits. Plant something, they will come. He put in a gate for him to enter. This is garden prep time, starting seedlings to plant, and fertilizing. Our main vegetable gardening is about to begin. Now is the time for planning and prepping.

BE PREPARED, Semper Paratus - hurricane season is upon us. Keep lose items put away, have water backup, fill gas tanks and food pantry, keep cell phones charged (I bought a car phone charger in case of power outages. Florence didn't hit us, but there are more to come. Better safe than sorry.

Regular horticulture is needing its last fertilizing and pruning before enjoying before the work begins in the vegetable patch.

Mulching is a must to hold back the weeds and save the moisture, already. Don't place mulch up the tree but go out to the tree line. Some roots need to be above the soil line. It can smoother the trees availability to oxygen and may create a fungus if covered too deeply and highly. And that is what we're looking to see. The trees will thank you.

Busy hands will help keep me from scratching, I can then look at and thank the trees.

Joyce Comingore is a Master Gardener, hibiscus enthusiast and member of the Garden Club of Cape Coral.



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