Summer birds, summer yard work, summer ideas. These are pictures I found saved in a draft post from 2017.
And here are some pictures to prove it.
(You know what I’m doing? Go back through my drafts and posting them! I’m not sure why I didn’t post them the first time around! We climbed this mountain in…maybe 2018 in Massachusetts.)
A selection of greenhouse pictures from 2017 and some carefully curated words to go with them:
yu gi oh
According to WordPress, I started writing this post three months ago.
<embarrassed emoji face>
Sister, Brother T and I went to church one Sunday morning three months ago, and followed it up with a visit to a Colonial-Era Inn which has been running continuously since the year seventeen-hundred-something.
It’s old. It smells like the combined wood fires of three centuries. Hamilton and Burr had a heated argument in the tavern. George Washington stopped here. The troops paraded and drilled in the yard. The ceilings are low, the air smells historic, and the food is good!
These two looking at each other. She’s like, “George, can you believe these people? With their selfies and their coffees and their casual attitude towards lace fichus and petticoats?” And he’s like, “I wish Martha were here. She gets me.”
I have a sneaking suspicion that when I started writing this post three months ago, I actually had something to say. Maybe it was, “Thanks Mom for treating us to this brunch!” or maybe it was something insightful about war and pewter and clam chowder. Whatever it was, it is lost to the sands of time and also my memory is bad.
OH HELLO THERE
Anyone ever heard of an eggplant flea beetle? A squash bug? A tomato hornworm? Or how about powdery mildew or infectious plant diseases?
Reader, I had not.
A warning: grisly plant death and mutilation images ahead.
The garden is producing lots of wonderful things: colorful zinnias, tissue-paper-thin cosmos, meaty and delicious tomatoes, endless kale…but not all is well in Alex’s Garden.
I’d like to say I purposefully went organic…and it’s true that I am resistant to the idea of spraying everything in my garden with harmful pesticides (have you noticed that those words always go together? It’s a collocation!) and I have also been resistant to using things like Miracle-Gro. I’ve mostly fertilized with fish emulsion and worm castings and have occasionally branched out into diatomaceous earth and some bug spray.
But, like I said, while I would like to say that was an intentional move, it was partly intentional and partly just lazy. I kind of figured everything would be mostly ok! And you know…so far things have been mostly ok! But there are a few things that haven’t worked out and this post is all about them!
FIRST UP: SQUASH
“You can’t kill a squash plant.” –Everyone
My squash plants looked AMAZING. They were big and leafy and taking over half of the garden; there were vibrant yellow squash blossoms and miniature little zucchinis.
But then, one day, I noticed there were horrific little alien creatures all over my plants. They mated! They laid eggs! They mated again! To be honest, there was a lot of mating and a lot of egg-laying going on.
I looked them up in my garden books and identified them as SQUASH BUGS. The advice of the book was to spray with an organic insecticide (I did that), to handpick them and drown them in soapy water (EW I DID THAT TOO UGH), to remove the parts of the leaves with eggs on them (UGHHHHHHH YES I DID IT READER, I DID IT!).
But it was to no avail. The squash bugs–carrying disease and a strong proclivity for reproduction–killed my plants.
NEXT UP: EGGPLANT (or aubergine for the elegant and European among us)
The eggplant plants were attacked early on by the eggplant flea bug. It is a very, very tiny black insect that almost looks like a speck of dirt. They crawl all over and chew the leaves. I don’t know if I had almost no fruit because of those little guys or because the blossoms weren’t pollinated or maybe some kind of disease got to them.
One way or another, the leaves looked like this:
And the plants looked like this:
AND THEN: BUSH BEANS
Honestly, I don’t even know what happened with the bush beans. They grew some bean pods and then…they never grew. They never got bigger or smaller or more alive or more dead; they just froze.
AND THEN: CUCUMBERS!
Yes! My cucumbers have perished.
There were cucumber beetles buzzing around for weeks, with their little yellow and black, dotted and striped jackets. They are a good-looking insect, and you can tell that it has gone to their heads. I hope none of them are reading this right now because the last thing they need is for their ego to be more inflated than it already is and to go swarm someone else’s sweet, tender cucumber vines.
They aren’t that harmful in and of themselves, but they carry disease, and probably they carried powdery mildew right into my blossoms and the cucumbers ended up looking like sick yellow globes. No me gusta.
FINALLY: THE TOMATOES
I’ve saved the most horrifying for last. Meet the tomato hornworm.
What does this even become? GODZILLA?*
You know what is worse than the tomato hornworm? A tomato hornworm that has been inhabited by a predator wasp which has laid eggs inside its body and then those eggs burrow out through the segments while feeding on the still-living hornworm until such time as they hatch.
You’re like, “Alex, why are you subjecting me to these pictures?” And then I’m like, “JUST LOOK AT THEM. LOOK. LOOK. LOOK AT THEM RIGHT NOW. LOOK. please look.” And then I start sobbing.
This is what it’s like to find one of these bad boys…you’re like, wandering through your fairy-like enchanted wonderland of a vegetable garden, flitting here, flitting there–when–LO–your head is suddenly mere inches from a FOUR INCH LONG FAT CATERPILLAR WITH WASP EGGS DANGLING FROM ITS BODY.
This is what my garden book helpfully pointed out. It is noticeably less horrifying in illustrated form than it is in person.
See how it says “don’t destroy cocoon-covered hormworms”?
HAHAHAHAHA. GOOD JOKE GARDEN BOOK.**
And that is a catalog of the garden disasters, such as they were. The rest of the garden is going GREAT and I need to get my act together and post some pictures of the beautiful peppers and tomatoes and carrots and beets and kale SO MUCH KALE!
Until next time!
*UPDATE: I JUST LOOKED IT UP AND IT TURNS INTO SOMETHING CALLED A HAWK MOTH. DO NOT CLICK ON THIS IF YOU ARE AFRAID OF MOTHS.
**I destroyed them.
Dear Summer, never leave. Not ever. Not ever, ever.
Here is a photo of some watermelon and some blue skies and some red nails. Isn’t it nice? I love summer.
You know what comes after summer?* Fall!
I also love fall** because the days are crisp and lovely and the leaves change spectacularly–especially around here, where we get “Peepers” who come to drive slowly down our country roads and point at the leaves.
Chrysanthemums are the flower of fall, and that brings me to what I really wanted to say here:
SCENE: Garden Center, surrounded by potted mums.
Sister (points to a pot of mums): Hey Alex, I thought you said those were chrysanthemums?
Me: They are.
Sister: But it says they’re mums.
Me: Look Claire, I don’t want to have to tell you what I’m about to tell you, but they’re the same–
Sister: –Never mind. Never mind. I just got it. We don’t need to discuss it.
*Summer, do not take this as permission for you to leave, thank you.
** But not enough to wish that summer would leave. Do not leave.
As Spring draws to a close, I thought I’d share a few pictures of the backyard sky from the last month or so.
Adios, Spring! And here’s to a wonderful Summer!