Wednesday, June 29, 2011

So I’ll stop and look right past

I’m at the library in Mars Hill today, freezing my butt off because they have the air-conditioning on. It’s 69 degrees outside, people! That’s cooler than my grandma keeps her heat in winter! But I’m not complaining because they have high-speed internet, so for seven more brief minutes I have access to the world of art and civilization and celebrity gossip.

Today it’s a bit of good news, bad news. The good news is that aspects of the garden are flourishing. I can’t believe I managed to raise such gorgeous lettuce from seed. I have not been brave enough to eat it yet, although I’m convinced that tomorrow is the day. It’s not that I’m afraid, but more that I don’t want to kill it by too vigorous grazing, as I always do with my basil plants. But I want to be able to say I had farm-fresh lettuce, raised from seed, before the end of June.

In the bad news, I discovered an infestation of potato beetles in my squash yesterday. Argh. The anger. I can’t begin to explain it. I feel the same way as I do about the deer flies that persist in biting me on the butt through my yoga plants. Or maybe worse.

I’ve never been sold completely on the idea of organic gardening—I’ve spent enough time in the third world to know the advantages fertilizers have given to the poor, and it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me to pee in a bucket and let it ferment in order to get phosphates in the soil rather than just letting a factory do that for me. Anyway. The jury is still out on that decision, but I’m having a much harder time making the decision to use pesticides. It just seems brutal, and reading that the pesticides my 1970s-era gardening book recommends also kill honeybees chills my heart.

Still, I can’t just watch my squash and cucumber plants shrivel up and die. More and more I understand the conundrum of the contemporary farmer. I don’t want to kill my bees or my birds, but I want those dastardly beetles gone. I’m investigating organic solutions, and in the meantime, crushing as many as I can between my fingers.


Emily Franklin said...

Most crawling bugs get diarrhea from a mixture of hand dishwashing detergent and water that you squirt the plants with regularly. It also helps if you wash dishes by hand to toss the dirty water on the plants afterwards. Just some ideas I've used on fruit and veggy plants. Just don't use any fruity scents as it will attract more bugs.

Melissa said...

What about orange-flavored dish soap? That's what I happen to have on hand right now. Someone else mentioned powdered milk. I'm trying the organic biocide Neem Oil as we speak, and it seems to be working.