As if my three growing boys who demand to eat multiple meals a day every single day wasn’t bad enough, I’ve got other punks around here demanding to be fed, too! And I’m not just talking about the dog and cats and chickens.
Check out these little punks we’ve discovered recently. All guilty of mooching off our goods. These are among the worst of the culprits we have encountered in our quest for organic gardening.
This sneaky fella looks just like a leaf. We have two young apple trees that really don’t have much sacrifice left after the Japanese beetles, resident ADHD-squirrel, and a fungus hit up both trees this year. These little suckers came in for the kill! We’ve hand picked them off as we see them. [The chickens love juicy caterpillars.] But the trees have suffered quite a lot this year. We are down to only a small handful of apples left on one tree.
Next varmint was the squash borer. The squash were growing and flowering beautifully, and seemingly unscathed from any predators. Until I looked underneath. This explains why the squash never grew any squash.
The cabbage worms really did a number on my cabbage. I planted a total of 12 cabbage plants this year. Want to know how many they took out? That’s right. Twelve. This was the last of them, and I actually wept when I saw this. I had been hand-picking the worms and eggs as I saw them, applying DE every so often, and keeping as close an eye on them as I could. And then that fateful morning, I pulled this leaf back and saw all these eggs and just accepted that I had indeed lost my battle to growing organic cabbage this summer. And Tricia wept.
See this guy? He literally stole that piece of fish from my son’s sandwich! That little bugger was not even an inch long and every single one of us was afraid of it. Of course, having a wasp allergy kind of aids in feeding that fear. This one was the granddaddy of all the punks and actually ruined our outdoor dining experience that day. Once this one found fish, he came back with his buddies.
See these caterpillars? There are more than I can count on the japonicas and azaleas. I truly just did not realize there were any critters that would eat those shrubs. We may have to take a loss on all those shrubs that these guys took out. We can’t even feed these to the chickens. I’ve read that azaleas are poisonous to chickens. Look at the damage they’ve done.
Finally, this last one isn’t exactly a predator that we’ve had to battle against. But still a punk nonetheless. This is a beech tree seed. Beech tree seeds hurt when you step on them. Like, worse than a Lego. Not only do the seeds hurt, any part of the seed that comes detached from the actual pod hurts, too. We have several beech trees around our deck, so these pods are all over the deck every day. Occasionally we will track in pieces of these pods, and those hurt, too! I recently stepped on one of the little thorns that had somehow made its way into the house. It drew blood from the bottom of my foot!
Those are the not-so-glamorous aspects of organic gardening around here. They are all lessons learned, teaching us what to do and what not to do the next time around. There are no wasted efforts in nature. What didn’t work so well in our gardens became treats for the chickens, and what was left from that became compost for the garden. It’s all good…
…but I’m still crying about the cabbage.