“When anybody asks, 'What are you writing about now?' if I try to reply, the book-in-the-works sounds so idiotic to me that I think, 'Why am I trying to write that puerile junk?' So now I give up; if I could talk about it, I wouldn't have to write it."
- Madeleine L'Engle, A Circle of Quiet


Revenge of the Invisible Garden Creatures (or The Many Uses of Water in a Garden)

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

I should be painting the bedroom floor right now. I should be grocery shopping right now. I should be reading books about building a home right now. I should be making phone calls right now.

But I'm not. I will be soon. I just had to post this because I have had a rather harrowing experience this morning.

One thing I have learned about preparing to sell a home - especially when you are painting the house. It takes time. It takes a lot of time. In fact, it is virtually all-consuming. My garden has borne the brunt of that undertaking. I now have weeds as tall as me. You think I'm joking, but I'm not. They are literally as tall as me. My poor pretty white lilies are hidden in them - or at least they were until this morning.

I went out to continue the task which I started yesterday of pulling those wicked towering weeds. I armed myself with tools: the shovel which is of no use against soil as hard as rock, the trowel which is the equivalent of tearing down a mountain with a tablespoon, and my clippers, in case I needed to lop off the top of Jack's beanstalk along the way. The only tool that actually came in useful was the kneeling pad my parents gave me a couple years ago. Yes, the weeds were tall, but I've found the best way to kill a giant is by tripping him up at his feet.

So I knelt down and started pulling from the feet, very happy to find that the first patch of weeds was coming out cleanly by the roots. I love the very satisfying thwip of roots releasing themselves from soil.

After pulling a few weeds, I heard a strange noise - like a very quiet crackling. What was that?!! I've never heard a sound like that in my garden before! My mind immediately went to bugs of some kind. The one thing I truly despise about gardening is the bugs. I love most of the rest (with the possible exception of the weeds) but I really really hate the bugs. But what would make a noise like this?

By this time the crackling had stopped. I told myself I was just being paranoid and there was no crackling, so I continued to pull the next giant from it's foothold.

crackle crackle crackle

Aaaaccchh!! What IS that??!!

I peered into the forest of weeds, but couldn't see anything. Once again, the crackling stopped. I tried again with the same results. Crackle with every pull of a weed. Silence when I stopped.

I remembered the aphids I found on my rose (on the other side of the yard) yesterday and went to take a look. They were still there. I had sprayed them with a hose as forcibly as I dared so as not to damage the new flower buds, but the stupid little devil bugs were still there.

Aphids, I have found, are a huge pain in the butt. Not only that, but they look like they came straight from the depths of Hades. For those who may not be familiar with them, they are tiny little greenish-white bugs that hang out on your plants and eat them. I won't post a picture here - for the same reason Gandalf wouldn't speak the language of Mordor in the Shire - but if you are morbidly curious, here is a link to a picture of them. They are vicious little things and I both hate them and am totally freaked out by them.

Have you ever noticed that the creepiest of the creepiest bugs are the white ones? Those white spiders that hang out in my basement are the worst. It's like they spend so much time in dark places that they never develop any pigment. They are white - almost transparent - and they look like the minions of hell.

Anyway, the thought occurred to me that maybe there were aphids in those crackling weeds, so I went to take a closer look. Lo and behold, there they were. Those tiny greenish white bumps on the leaves that are hardly noticeable until they start crackling. The only problem was that I've never heard aphids crackle before.

I thought maybe they were jumping each time I pulled a weed, and the multitudes of aphids jumping simultaneously made the crackling noise. I've never seen aphids jump before, but I suppose that does not rule out the possiblility that they could. I could just see them in my mind's eye. "Oh no! Another one - the horrible monstrous creature is pulling another of our green leafy towers! Jump! Jump for your lives!!!"

Or perhaps it was more like this. "Here she comes. She's coming in for another strike! Attack!!! Attaaaaaackkk!!!!" That explained it best of all. The crackling was the sound of tiny aphid gunshots attacking me! Yeah, I think I've watched a bit too much Sci Fi lately.

I determined that I was going to win the fight against these creepy little creatures, so I just grabbed a handful of weed and pulled with all my might.

That was a mistake. The little suckers started hara-kiri-ing me! I was immediately assaulted with a bombardment of invisible ammo hitting my face. I felt it like teeny tiny pebbles spattering my face, but I saw nothing.

That was it. I'd had it. I wiped off my face with my oversize t-shirt, choosing not to dwell on the fact that it was probably covered with the aphids that were probably stuck to my face, and headed for the big guns. I had read that you can spray aphids off of your plants with a good spray of water (as I did with the rose yesterday) so I grabbed the garden hose, screwed on the sprayer attachement, and dragged it over to the weedy, aphid-infested garden bed.

And I sprayed the heck out of those little buggers. There were no rosebuds to be careful of, only weeds that were going to be pulled anyway, so I sprayed like there was no tomorrow. I probably looked like a crazy woman watering my weeds. I half expected a neighbor to wander out and ask why I was watering the weeds, but they must have all been sleeping in today. Of course I did the same thing when pulling weeds yesterday, but that is because, as every good gardener knows, weeds pull out of wet soil much easier than dry. (Consider this your goodwill gardening tip for the day.)

When I decided that the aphids had probably had enough, I put down the garden hose and started pulling the now-wet-and-soggy weeds.

No crackle. Aahhhh. (As opposed to Aaaaacccchhhh!!!!) The sweet silence. There were a couple of creepy crawly spiders, but they moved along fast enough once the light of day penetrated their hiding places.

It was a battle, but this time I won.

Geekwif 1
Aphids 0


At 7/12/2005 1:28 PM, Blogger Blond Girl wrote:

I laughed. I cried. It moved me, Bob.

I think this may be one of the best posts you've written. I love the line about killing a giant by tripping him up at his feet! A perfect post.

And a great break for me, but now I must return to the document fields of The Big Company.

At 7/12/2005 1:38 PM, Blogger Geekwif wrote:

I'm glad to entertain.

At 7/12/2005 2:30 PM, Blogger Heather wrote:

Spray them with soap and water. That is the best way to get rid of aphids.

At 7/12/2005 2:36 PM, Blogger Geekwif wrote:

I tried that once on some plants I got from a local nursery. They turned brown and died almost immediately. Maybe I used too much soap.

At 7/13/2005 6:34 PM, Blogger Heather wrote:

Maybe so. Try using something very gentle. Like Ivory Dishsoap


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