Sunday, June 13, 2010

Keep your Machete Sharp

Our Mexican Fence Post Cactus is relentlessly trying to sprout more children, genetically programmed to thrive in the Arizona sun. This is the same arm that I truncated earlier this Spring after the sister arm crashed into the garage. So I've found, that with a pair of large, high quality, Craftsman Channel Locks, I can GRIP the new budding arms, and twist them off, with minimal distress to the larger parent arm. It works pretty well, as seen in this video:

But when smaller arms start to droop, they don't come back up - there is no Cactus Viagra available on the market. Eventually, they droop more and more, and sometimes the arm will get infected, or other times it'll break off with a jagged interface, so it is much better to amputate. Having a high quality, sharp inconel machete made in Columbia (thanks Claudia!) makes amputations quick and clean, as seen here:

and here: (Dr Desert Flower was the skilled videographer)

The ladder was both for the pruning, and later, to protect the small stand of infant cacti growing nearby from falling arms as they were pruned. I really do not need to plant any more arms, or I would have wrapped the sagging arm in a blanket or towel, to "cushion it" before it fell to the ground. I've got more pruned arms than I have pots to put them in, so the prickly pruning will go into the dumpster sadly. Applying the standard 10:1 diluted water & bleach solution to the newly opened wounds is a good idea, to help keep things sanitary and avoid secondary infections. I also use a Chlorox Bleach wipe (Target generic equivalent) to wipe down the inconel blade, removing residual organic matter and sanitizing it. I let it air dry (which in Arizona takes about 2 minutes at 10 minutes at 10% humidity) before re-sheathing the tool / weapon. And have alot of cardboard around, to lay tools upon and to "catch" arms as they fall, it you want to reduce injuries / damage to the cacti and to the tools.

If you have any questions on how to prune your Mexican Fence Post Cactus, or other Desert gardening inquiries, do not hesitate to comment here, or email me (on the email stated on my JustJoeP profile). Happy gardening everybody!

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