I thought I was so awesome, planting cucumbers from seed. I started them early, indoors. I misted them daily with a spray bottle. I rotated them in the sun. I finally planted them into the ground and waited for them to grow. After some heavy rainfall that seemed to last for days and days, I inspected them last Saturday morning to find that the tender leaves had been eaten on most of the fledgling plants. Only a stem left. Dammit all! I called Val immediately. I needed answers, solutions and remedies...FAST! She is far more knowledgeable and sympathetic in this department than Google could ever be. In the early days of the internet, before Google took over the world, me and all my friends used to refer to her as "askval.com". She has proven to know what you need when you need it and give you a pep talk over the phone as well.
"It's probably slugs. I will send Dad over with some diatomaceaous earth. Sprinkle it all around your plants. The tiny particles will lacerate their little bodies and they will crawl away and die."
I think her favorite part about giving gardening advice regarding pests is describing how they will suffer. Disturbing.
Within ten minutes, my dad was knocking at my door with an extra large Quaker Oats container labeled in black Sharpie: DIATOMACEAOUS EARTH NOT POISONOUS Still in my pajamas, teeth yet to be brushed, I was so mad at those leaf eating slugs, I dumped more than the Val recommended amount on and around those cucumber sprouts. It looked like there was a King Arthur flour accident in the tiny garden.
Aside from a wet and cold spring, my little garden is limping along. Every morning, I get up, pour a cup of coffee and peek out over the deck in my stocking feet to inspect. I don't know what I expect to see differently from the night before. Perhaps some sort of miracle growth spurt like Jack's bean stock? But I know what I don't want to see. I don't want to see a rabbit hopping away after enjoying a breakfast of sweet pea tendrils and tiny pea leaves. "BASTARDS!" I yell as I grab for the phone to place my call. This time I am instructed to head to the local garden center for something that will irritate the nostrils of any four legged, cotton tailed intruders.
The lady at the cash register inspected my purchase as she rang it up.
"You should have a dog that can help you with this problem." she said
Yeah, I know. Although our sweet dog, Stella is almost 15 and gets a pass on every dog "duty" now that she is old, she was never any good at keeping rabbits, squirrels or chipmunks away. I couldn't wait to get home and shake my new pest eradicating product all over the remaining plants in my garden.
I am becoming ruthless and irritated over this process of growing seeds and plants. It may be all in vain. But I wait and coddle, weed and threaten anyone who dares step on a seedling. Maybe, just maybe I will be able to harvest something soon out of all of this madness called gardening.