Thursday, May 13, 2010

Garden Thursday

Well, here it is Garden Thursday again and I haven't been listening to my podcasts, so I don't know what the other gardeners are discussing this week. (sheila gnashes her teeth a bit)

I know what I can talk about.

Fruit trees.

I had some sobering experiences with my fruit trees this week. Sobering, I tell you. I actually had a moment when I felt crushed with the weight of having another episode of Fruit Trees In Serious Distress happening right in my garden. And yes, just in case you're on the side of Richard the Cheaply Amused, it WAS just like a soap opera. A big fat green worm soap opera. I might even have shed a tear or two this week, I was so traumatized by all that green worm distress.


My yard is surrounded by other people's buggy Garry oaks, other people's buggy hawthorne trees, and other people's buggy buggy shrubs, and no one other than me cares about all these bugs. No one on my side of the street even gardens, that's how traumatic my problem is. I know, there are Options for these little green worms, that include pesticides and poisons and things along those lines. I'm not a really obsessed organic gardener but when it comes to buying things for the garden I prefer to spend my money on plants and natural fertilizers, not chemicals and pesticides. I'm too cheap to buy a bunch of expensive chemicals, not to mention that white suit, gloves, and mask I'd also need.

But these little green worms are foxing me.

Here I am, a struggling heroic Jane Austen heroine, in deep travail with bugs that are chewing life and limb from all my fruit trees. They're also chewing other things, like roses and stuff, but it's the fruit trees that really get to me. I can take the concept of losing a bloom here and there but I really hate the idea of losing fruit. Especially when it happened last year as well. I am gnashing my teeth so much these last few days that I might sound like a pirate.

Argh. Argh. Argh.

I had a really decent bloom this spring. I had lots of bee action. I surrounded the bases of each tree with compost. I fertilized with fish fertilizer. I even sprayed with dormant oil in the winter and wrapped the base of each tree with Tanglefoot, a rather Vaseline-like substance that sticks to anything and everything that happens to waft by (including FDPG's hair, Dominic's shorts, my sweatshirt, and the cat's tail).

And, when I saw the first signs of Little Green Caterpillar Action, I sprayed with BT, an organic bacteria that causes the caterpillars to get gastro-intestinal distress and eventually die horribly. But I'm okay with that. I don't mind doing in legions of little green caterpillars if it means that my fruit trees will fruit for me. I like fruit. I don't like little green caterpillars. The choice, as they say, is obvious.

But I was a Little Green Caterpillar Virgin, Gentle Reader. I did not realize that I might have to do it again, when the Next Wave of little green caterpillars hit the trees after a sudden heat wave. Because, Gentle Reader (sheila gnashes again, dislodging a tooth), that is what happens with little green caterpillars. They return to the scene of the crime. Again and again and again.

I did not know this.


Then, when I was out in the garden early this week, I noticed more Little Green Caterpillar Action in the trees. One tree had had all its blossoms chewed right off. Another had a lot of leaves missing. And another had them dangling in threads all round. It might have been amusing had I been in the right frame of mind, but at the time all I could think was...well, seeing as how this is sort of a family blog I won't be too graphic, but let's say that my thoughts were dark and deep and truly venomous. Murderous. I was a walking Agatha Christie episode all on my lonesome. P. D. James, even.

Off I went to one of my local garden places for help. They again gave me BT. It's the organic catch-all, I thought, for those of us who don't like to use pesticides. I felt rather fatalistic buying it. And foolish. I'd already bought it once. And used it, once. And here I was buying it again. With the intent to use it, again. Gosh, the circularity of it all. (I liked the Lion King but I hate circularity)

But that was when the garden fellow told me about the heat wave and the new batches of little green worms, and how I needed to spray a couple of times. But, but, would work, he said. He seemed fairly confident, too.

So I used it. Again. And now I'm watching those irritatingly green plump bodies squirm around on the leaves of my poor poor fruit trees, hopefully about to go into deeply painful gastro-intestinal spasms any second now. Whereupon I might laugh, like Bluebeard. Wave my cutlass a bit. Tug on my moustaches. I won't say argh anymore though because Richard is always pained by pirates, especially when we see them in the May Day parade. "What are a bunch of grown men doing in this parade dressed as pirates?" he asks me. "They look silly."

Argh. Ack. Who knew having an orchard could be so complicated?

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