“Hey,” came the insistent voice over the phone line. “We’ve got bugs.”
Recognizing her voice and the panic within I replied, “What kind of bugs?”
This is, after all, is my job. Mandie has a problem in the garden, it’s my job to respond. Remember: Master is a term to which I want to become accustomed. (Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Besides, no one else is calling me master. Might as well be the master of the garden, right?)
“It’s a black bug with six white legs.”
“Number one, you’re too close to the thing. Step away from the bug.” I mean, really. Who can see eight tiny legs well enough to know they’re white, if you’re not nose deep in the beast? When I looked, they didn’t look that bad to me.
What is it?” she persisted. “It’s destroying my conch peas.”
“It’s a bug. Doesn’t matter what kind.” Logic; from one who doesn’t deal in species specific pest invasion. “Use your insecticidal soap.”
She muttered intelligibly.
“You got the insecticidal soap I told you about, right?”
“Gary,” she turned from the mouthpiece. “Did you buy the insecticidal soap?”
A blither of replies goes back and forth before it becomes apparent he did not. “Okay,” she said back to me. “We’ll get the soap. But what do I do in the meantime? The bugs are devouring my peas!”
“Use the soap,” I replied calmly. “If the bugs persist, you may want to spray them again and then cover your peas with cheese cloth. Do you know what that is?”
“Cheese cloth? Sure. I have some.”
“Okay, watch for bugs. If it looks like you have a major infestation, spray again and cover your peas – over your trellis cage – with cheese cloth.” Common screen material will do. Anything with very small openings to prevent the bugs from flying through, yet still allowing sunlight to permeate.
Next crisis. “And I wanted to mention, your tomatoes look weak. Have you been fertilizing them?”
“Sure, but it’s the cold.”
“True, the cold will stress them. Did you get the fish emulsion?”
A flurry of doubt flitted through her tone as she replied, “Yeah, we fertilized them. You think they need more?”
“Yes. And water.” Now that our steady rain had ceased, I wanted to be sure she was doing the job. “Have you been watering?”
“Oh, yes. Gary’s been watering.” She called out over her shoulder again, “Right, babe? You’ve been watering the plants?”
Apparently playing with the boys in the background, all of them boisterous and romping about, he replied, “Watering? Yes. I watered the plants.”
“Deeply?” I interjected. They’d rather be watered deeply every other day than a light splatter with the hose each and every day.
Mandie repeated my concern, to which Gary seemed hesitant. Frustration welled. “Babe, you have to water them deeply, every other day.”
Boy, she sounded like an expert. Atta girl!
“And we have ants,” she informed me. “What do we do about the ants?”
Panic again. “No problem. Go to your local hardware and look for the garden safe ant killer. It’s a white powder you sprinkle around the trouble spots.”
“Is that the diatomaceous earth?”
Kudos, again. “Well, yes, that is a garden safe material, I don’t know if it’s the same material as I didn’t check the label ingredients. I have used diatomaceous earth before, but I don’t think my results was that great.”
“Okay.” Relieved, she sounded ready to tackle any obstacle coming her way.
Good, I thought privately. Because there will be more to come. But in the meantime, let’s celebrate our progress. I mean, c’mon. Look at these gorgeous potatoes!