I can’t be all good news; with a thriving garden comes a thriving pest population. Let’s start with the tiny. These guys are actually a big problem. They’ve already taken down a pepper plant and I fear two more might follow. My beans and peas have deformed leaves. And my tomatoes and celery leaves are starting to curl.
Who do I expect would do all that damage?! Aphids. I’ve been inspecting the leaves of my plants and I’ve been finding a lot of them. Luckily they are easy to kill. But it seems I’m still no match for the infestation.
On top of that, I’ve got spider mites. They are leaving their mark all over my garden in the form of small webs. Here’s the problem… both of these little buggers suck the sap out of plants. This obviously isn’t good. (As evidenced by some of my plants.) But honestly, my big fear is that they can easily spread diseases. And the disease I’m most terrified of is mosaic virus; once a plant has mosaic virus it’s all over. I’m not ready for that.
So I’m trying to stay on top of it. Right now my method of treatment is two parts. First, I inspect the leaves everyday and kill any aphids I find. (Spider mites are too small to see.) Then, I spray everything down with the hose. I’ve read that a good hose-down will kill most of them and regardless, the mites like dry and hot conditions, so the water deters them.
So those are my first two pests. And they are – by far – my biggest concern. But I do have two other pests. Both are significantly larger in mass. The first: the neighbor’s cats. My neighbor has about a dozen cats and leaves them outdoors all day. It drives me crazy. Why? Because these cats won’t stop hanging out in my yard. They’ve been known to use my garden bed as a litter box as well. Taxoplasmosis is a real thing, so there’s only so much longer I’m going to be able to handle this. Furthermore, I plan to raise chickens someday -I can’t have cats roaming around my yard bothering my chickens!
I’ve tried spraying rosemary oil everywhere to keep the cats away. That didn’t work. My next plan is to put a chicken-wire-like mesh around the plants in my garden beds. I bought the mesh at the store and it was advertised specifically as something you should lay down in your garden beds to keep out cats, rabbits and other little critters. So cross your fingers for me.
And now, let me introduce you to my final pest. Everyone, meet Morley.
Morley enjoys car rides, walks, squeaky toys, and chasing the cats in the backyard. Morley is as dog as dogs come. We’ve always lived in apartments before, so Morley doesn’t understand garden beds. But he is intrigued. Morley looks at the garden bed and thinks: jackpot, I’ve got plants to pee on and dirt to roll around in. Morley has a suspicion he isn’t allowed in the garden beds, but he still feels the need to test it out.
So the dog wants to roll around in the dirt; big surprise. Okay, but the next one will surprise you. Morley is super interested in my artichoke plant. I’ve caught him licking the artichoke leaves and eating the dirt around the base of the artichoke. Clearly, Morley is not to be trusted.
So that’s what I am up to this weekend; killing aphids with my fingers, spraying the hose at bugs that are too small to be seen, chasing away the neighbor’s cats, and keeping one eye on Morley at all times…
And trying to maintain my sanity…