Cleaning Up Cacti with Fart Extractors
Fart Extractors…We have all seen them and used them some point in our lives. They come in all sorts of sizes and shapes. Some are solid, some have very little surface area. Some are made of metal, while others are made of plastic. Some are lightweight and some are heavy.
Fart extractors have many uses. Most people use them for cooking or serving up food. Some people use them while blacksmithing. We use them while working with cacti.
I do not know exactly where or how this name came about other than it is what my wife has always called them. Fart extractors are simply…tongs. Yes, tongs. Your normal everyday salad tongs. Salad tongs…are…fart extractors. How? I DON’T KNOW.
Fart extractors are very handy when working with cacti. They protect your fingers and hands from all the sharp spines. I will write about that more for you later.
Right now I am going to share with you how I clean up cactus with tongs. But first, a little story for you to cringe about…
Cactus has a bad rep with a lot of people for very good reasons. They poke you, and when they do, it hurts! They show up in places where they shouldn’t be…in a part of the yard where there is no cactus, in your shoes, and in the house.
Some cactus is messy. For example…Cholla cactus…they show off their pretty little flowers, but those pretty little flowers have a nasty side to them. When the flower finally dies off, it leaves a nasty little prickly ball of spines that hang on for a little while until the wind or something else knocks it off the cactus. From there, they make their journey across the ground until you, your dog, or worse…your kid steps on it barefoot!
It doesn’t stop at the cactus. The next thing you have on your hands is a crying, screaming kid that needs your help. You can’t really blame them. After all, you are probably the one that planted that darn Cholla cactus anyways. You carry them over to sit somewhere and now you need to pull that spiny ball out of their foot and you know that will hurt them like a son-of-a-gun. Those spines have little hooks that do not want to let go when they find their prey. Even after you get that spine, or spines, out, it still burns like crazy for a little while.
Today, my wife and I dug up some Cholla cactus that was not looking so good. The planter they were in was getting very crammed with healthier and prettier cactus. This Cholla had a lot of dead in it and it was dropping that dead onto the ground. Those blow around and find their way into our shoes, kids feet, or the dogs feet. It was time to remove them.
When we were done with this task, I looked over at our other Cholla and thought how pretty and healthy they looked and too bad they keep dropping those ball of spines. The kids play over there on that side of the yard and sometimes ride their bikes over in that area. I am surprised their tires have not been flattened by them yet.
I got to thinking…I would hate to get rid of those three Cholla just because they are messy. I walked over there and stared at them for a few seconds, then the light bulb went on! All I have to do is do what any other gardener would do and clean up the plants! Duh!
How hard can it be, right? Well lets find out…
This is what I do to clean up cactus (at least for today):
Grab a small bucket of some kind and your fart extractors. Reach into the cactus with the fart extractors and start plucking out those loose balls of prickly chaos. They are easy to spot and you can grab three to four of those things with the fart extractors at a time. For those that are deeper in the cactus, try using a grabber tool. You know, the long handled tool you see people with picking up trash along the side of the road. They are inexpensive and work surprisingly well in these conditions.
It took me less than five minutes to clean out one cactus and I had two small buckets full of those nasty things. I cleaned up three Cholla today and it took very little time. It was actually kind of relaxing.
This is yard maintenance, I should be doing this after every bloom. Will I? Well, we will see.
Now that these three Cholla are cleaned up, we should not find any spiny cactus balls floating around the yard anymore from them. I just need to get to cleaning up the other cactus now.
How do you clean up your cactus and prevent them from spreading their spiny balls all over the place?