I am under attack! Whether you refer to them correctly as insects, arachnids or molluscs, or generically as bugs, without any doubt, they are after me.
With temperatures in the low to mid-80s, I am ready to go out and tackle the rampant growth that has my garden looking like a tropical jungle. But, as soon as I put a foot outside the door, I am being dive-bombed by squadrons of mosquitoes. I have tried all times of the day, but the attacks never lessen, and I think these pests are thriving on any brand of repellent I apply.
The crops in the vegetable garden are looking less than appetizing with all sizes of holes in the leaves and brown spots all over. Only the weeds seem immune and are growing green and healthy.
But now the war is spreading and affecting me while I cower in the house.
Earlier, I moved a large bag of dog food I keep in the basement stairway, and a torrent of ants came pouring out of the seam in the bottom of the bag and started down the basement steps. Disposing of the expensive food and spraying the area with some toxic liquid seems to have solved that problem, even if only temporarily, but immediately afterward came the worst attack of the war.
I was clearing out the final load of dirty, wet stuff from the basement to load it for disposal, when my finger almost touched a creature I fear more than lions and tigers and bears.
Janet Del Turco is a local gardener and a graduate of the Ohio State University Master Gardener program.
Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This miserable specimen was resting comfortably on the top of a soggy cardboard box. He evidently washed in on the tide of water that filled my basement up to the fourth step in the recent flood, and found a good home among the ruined Christmas decorations. That really was a low blow.
So let's take a slightly more scientific look at the garden insects.
My bush beans started very well, with three or four pickings of nice tender Trofeo beans which are now in the freezer. Then came the very hot weather, and I let the rest of the harvest linger on the bushes for too long.
I pulled up all the plants, and took them to a shady spot, where I sat on the swing and picked off all the beans, but they did not look good.
Holes in the leaves predicted the beans would be less than perfect. Sure enough, they were covered with brown spots. I like my home-grown beans left whole, but started snapping these poor specimens between the brown spots. After a long spell of wasted time, I decided they were not worth the trouble and threw them away. This was probably a combination of rust and bean leaf beetle.
The Purple Pod pole beans have been slower to develop, and I am keeping a wary eye on them to harvest before the beetles attack.
The bed planted with turnips and beets looked very unappetizing, the foliage yellowing and filled with tiny shot holes. Evidently, this was the work of flea beetles. Luckily, the roots were not affected. I dug a good crop for the table and the freezer, but no beet or turnip greens this year.
So far, the tomatoes and peppers are doing really well, and I keep my fingers crossed. The Gotta Have It corn is wonderful and has no bugs.
I continue to marvel how the corn flattened by the torrential storm that filled the basement can pick itself up and continue to flourish. When I first grew corn, I used to go out after hard rain and build cones around the stems to shore up the plants, but soon found I didn't need to waste the time. Corn is very self-sufficient.
So the war will probably continue, and I console myself knowing a good frost will vanquish most of the enemy. But who wants to look forward to that?
In the meantime, let me know if you find some good bug repellent.