A garden requires patient labor and attention. Plants do not grow merely to satisfy ambitions or to fulfill good intentions. They thrive because someone expended effort on them. ~ Liberty Hyde Bailey
Character traits God is asking me to work on: Patience and Humility.
Last week I did not exhibit patience, and it came back to bite me. I have not shared this story before now because my pride would not allow it. I’m embarrassed by my actions but I think I have learned a great lesson or two.
Last weekend I discovered that something was eating my pea plants. Something in the bug category. I couldn’t see a bug of any sort. No aphids. No caterpillars. No beetles. No grasshoppers. I’m thinking that maybe it was moths. But anyway … the peas were being demolished and I could see that other plants – beans, spinach – were also experiencing some nibbles.
By the morning of Memorial Day, I felt like I needed to act swiftly and decisively. I did a tiny bit of internet research. I sent a mayday distress text to my dad. I asked my gardening neighbor. And then I headed to my trusted old friend, Home Depot. The garden expert of the day was a lady by the name of Barbara. Without hesitation, she took me over to the insecticides and pointed out her favorite. I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t even flinch at the thought of putting an insecticide on my precious plants. I wanted these bugs gone, and I wanted them gone quickly. And in my defense, it did have a convincing label.
Barbara and I debated the pros and cons of the various application methods, and I chose the standard spray bottle. I took that insecticide home and sprayed it on pretty much everything in the garden. I then went about the rest of my day. When I returned to the garden in the late afternoon, I found a demoralizing sight. My beautiful plants were withering, wilting, dying. Many of the leaves were covered with white patches, similar to what I would expect to see if I had sprayed bleach on the plants. I was horrified. Panicked, I quickly started rinsing all the plants with water. At the same time, Brad was across the yard watering his salsa garden. He called over to me to say how great my garden looked – and I felt sick to my stomach. I couldn’t possibly tell him that I had ruined my all my efforts with one ill-thought decision.
On Tuesday, I did a Google search to investigate the insecticide and discovered dozens of reviews that mirrored my experience. Many of the reviews had a follow-up posting encouraging them to call the company’s 1-800 number to discuss the experience. I posted my own review. And then on Wednesday, I placed a follow-up call to the company. Long story short, the company produced a bad batch of the insecticide. Had I selected any other application method of this same product, I would not be having this problem. The company has instructed all stores to remove the ready-to-spray version from the shelves. I was told to pull all my plants. Even if some plants happen to survive, the vegetables will probably not be safe to eat. The good news is that the soil should not be affected.
I spent this past weekend starting over. I ripped out the old. I sowed the remaining seeds I had on hand, and ordered another round of everything I was missing. I returned to my local nursery and grabbed tomato and bell pepper plants. Not all of my preferred varieties were still available, so I selected what I could. I also picked up a couple of cantaloupe, watermelon, and cucumber plants so that I would have some veggies to hold me over until my seeds can produce. Unfortunately, I was unable to find purple potatoes anywhere locally, and my seed catalog company is sold out for the season. Instead, I purchased okra plants of the Clemson spineless variety. I’m a Clemson girl and just the sight of something familiar made me smile.
I’m now fully committed to investigating Oklahoma insects. I found this little bug eating on one of my leafy trees yesterday. It is first on my investigation list.
I’m also committed to investigating and using non-insecticide remedies. My neighbor suggested Dawn dishwashing liquid diluted with water. She also sent me an article “Clever Ways to Use Essential Oils in the Garden.” I will check out both of those options as well as see what others recommend.
No one said gardening was easy. My father keeps telling me to only garden if I’m enjoying it; to stop when I stop having fun. And I must honestly say that despite the heartache of starting over and the body aches from bending and stooping all weekend, I still love my garden.