The Scourge of Gumballs

Gum trees in Isle of Wight and Surry counties produce seed pods we call gumballs. The balls are golfball-sized green-to-brown spiky balls with hard cores, like miniature WWII maritime mines. They roll underfoot like ballbearings and on hard surfaces can be treacherous. They decompose over several years just like pine needles or other tree debris, except the hard centers are the last part to go, making them treacherous to the end, unlike pine needles. They don’t mulch either; just shoot out of a mulching mower like bullets, or lurk in the grass catcher to emerge from decomposing leaves . At least mowing will group them together. Blowing will get them off to the side; vacuuming can jam a smaller machine. Raking or hand picking are other, tedious, collection methods. The only great thing gumballs are good for are biodegradable filters in the bottom of planters, and for traction in snow. Throw a bunch on a snow-covered sidewalk or driveway and traction will be greatly improved until the snow’s gone and the ballbearing effect returns.

I tried selling them on eBay figuring crafters in places that lack gumballs will covet them, but received no bids and zero views. If you don’t recognize the trees, look for the balls when shopping for a home to determine if this challenge will be in your future.

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About virginiajim

Retired knowledge nut.
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