Make your life simple and visit your garden each and everyday. Seriously. From weeds to worms (and I don’t mean the good ones) you’ll find it much easier to maintain if you do so on a daily basis. I realize this is Captain Obvious speaking, but I had no idea how much those pests in the garden can devour! And how quick. It’s MIND boggling. I mean, sure, grasshoppers are known predators in my state, especially the big, black, yellow and red kind that only die under the might of a brick smashed upon them, hopefully not against your wall – though they tend to be easier to see, isolate and dispatch that way – but the bugs in my garden are pigs. Especially the worms. Tomato worms, to be precise. Picking them from tomato plants is the only method of removal which become a favorite pastime of my six-year-old son, sort of a search and destroy mission – without the destroy part, much to my dismay – as they travel well and made it back to the garden for seconds. Anyhow, he housed the little pumpkins in his cute and colorful mesh creature-catcher, picked up at the local Target one day in an effort to encourage his “outdoor studies,” and fed them tomato plant leaves and diligently watched over them, day in and day out. Until that is, he too, discovered what pigs they were. Not only did they poop everywhere, but they ate clear through his wire mesh and escaped! He was not happy, more distressed by the destruction of his bug-house than the loss of his new specimens.
But we all learned a valuable lesson. Stay on top of the beasts in the garden. Depending on where your garden is situated, you might even be confronted with hungry rabbits and the like – not a problem in our yard as the neighborhood hawk sees to their meddling. Snakes aren’t a problem either, until they seek refuge in your garden shed and your husband accuses you of leaving a hose in the wrong place (I’m smiling here, all syrup and sunshine). Sweet justice though, is when he walks over to pick up after you and is cursed by the realization your hose is alive! That’ll teach him to think bad thoughts about his wonderful, helpful and always loving wife (more smiling here, full of love and happy thoughts for the man I adore).
And speaking of helpful, they’re are all kinds of simple tools that help remove weeds, easily and stress-free. I’ve found the best method is to simply scoop the ground beneath the weeds with the tip of a weed tool and then pull the little guys out. Not only am I removing roots and all, but I’m loosening – I mean aerating – the soil for better nutrient uptake! It’s almost as good a deal as my local grocer’s buy one-get one free sale!
When it comes to bugs, I’ve found my neighbor’s method of spraying the crop with his traditional high potency pesticides much more effective than my earth-friendly attempts at using garlic spray, neem oil, insecticidal soap and the like. But I haven’t given up. My method does work and here’s proof positive. One afternoon, reaching beneath the okra canopy, I was aghast to discover a swarm of ants had overtaken one of my beautiful blossoms, a baby okra in the making.
From over my shoulder, my son shouted, “Mom! Look at all those ants! They’ve eaten the okra!” Overwhelmed by the ghastly sight, I admit, I felt defeated. But a swell of resentment boiled up from within, clawed at my determination, then kicked my resolve right into action. How dare those beasts think they can consume my okra before it has the first chance at life! With this breath of fresh resentment, I ran to the garden shed and snatched a bottle of organic ant spray – a lovely citrus based organic variety – and saturated the invaders on the spot. The end result? A blossom revealed. Although bruised by the attack, I am confident this one will fully recover and produce a firm, healthy “cobb” of okra. Somewhat wilted and showing signs of battle fatigue, but nevertheless, it will survive.
And besides, does it matter if the leaves don’t look perfect, or the blossoms are spotted? My Lima bean plants still produced. And where is it written they have to look pretty while doing so? Does it matter if I look as though I just rolled out of bed when I drop my kids at school? I mean, I got them here, didn’t I? Isn’t the end result what counts?
Personally, I think perfection is overrated. Life is tough enough as it is. As for the bugs that want to do damage to the production line, well, I’m still swatting and shooing those little buggers. Remember, I’m in my garden everyday. It’s easy to stay on top of them – literally. Oh, but didn’t I mention that? Daily doses of visitation are key!