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  • Betty Girardeau

Garden Wars


As anyone who has ever tried to grow a garden knows, there are two main enemies: weather and pests. I have been so proud of my little deck garden this year and how well it has been producing. While I have had pretty good success with house plants and flowers, this summer has been my first major attempt to grow vegetables. Back in June I came close to having major wind damage done to my tomato plants because I had not realized how very tall they would get and how heavy the clusters of tomatoes would be. One afternoon when the wind began to pick up considerably, I looked out to see my plants being dangerously whipped around. I scurried around to find something quickly to stabilize them a bit, and then hurried to the closest hardware store for small trellises. I had them in place quickly and tied the stalks securely to them. The wind became stronger that afternoon, and I was congratulating myself on my rapid response. Now, over a month later, I have had to go into battle again, this time with pests, specifically tomato horn worms. Yuck! While eating dinner on my porch Sunday evening I was admiring my little garden when, to my horror, I noticed several naked tomato stalks-no leaves, no little tomatoes. I knew that I now had a new battle to wage. Checking the plants closely, I found half a dozen of these caterpillars chomping away on my precious plants. They are not dangerous to humans, and I have read that all you need to do is pick them off your plants and throw them in a pail or bowl of soapy water. My mother-in-law, who was an entomologist and loved all things biological, would likely have rhapsodized about how beautiful these worms are and, if she were here, would happily pick them off for me, probably marveling at them, maybe even "petting" them. Not me! First off, I really don't like caterpillars at all. But the thought of touching one of these fat guys really grosses me out. So armed with a can of pest spray especially for fruits and vegetables and a wooden skewer, I went into battle. Now, after daily reconnaissance, I think this battle has been won and my tomatoes are safe from harm...for now. I will admit to feeling a little bit of remorse for bringing early death to these enemies of tomatoes. Given a chance, they would have finally morphed into huge and quite beautiful very large moths. But I have created and daily tended my little garden. Aside from herbs, it is my first attempt to grow something for me to eat. It was me or them. And I had to choose me. That's why their eradication became a battle and why I will remain on the the alert for any other invaders.

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