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August 17th, 2011

Diligent Squash Bug Patrol

Squash bugs. I hate ‘em. I’m not sure what purpose they serve in the world. All I know is that they’ve made a mess of my squash plants this year. They didn’t really appear in full force until a few weeks ago, so we were able to enjoy lots of zucchini in June and July.

But then I noticed the egg clusters on the underside of some pumpkin leaves. I squished them, but obviously I didn’t get them all. I began seeing those horrid little grayish white nymphs on some of my other plants too. And now they are engaged in a full assault on my butternut squash.

RWG081711-squashbugs

The best way to control squash bugs is to squish them. But you have to be diligent about it. You must let looking for and squishing eggs, nymphs, and adult squash bugs become an everyday ritual. Skip a day and they will win.

I am currently trying to save the butternuts that are growing on the trellis I made for my peas (but which has since become home to tomato plants, cucumbers, sunflowers and squash). Having the plants up in the air makes it a lot easier to get in there to find the bugs—I’m not as old as I hope to one day be, but I can definitely feel my nearly four decades in my muscles and joints after working in the garden, so having the plants up at a workable level is great—just one of the many benefits of vertical gardening, but I digress.

RWG081711-garden

Squash bugs are terrible. They suck the sap—and the life—right out of your plants, especially seedlings and flowering plants. I’ll say it again: you have to be diligent about patrolling your squash plants. Don’t give up.

I almost forgot how much I love butternut squash until I saw a plump fruit forming on the vine. Then I remembered the soup that I make with butternut squash, cannellini beans, tomatoes, and pumpkin seeds. I promise to post the recipe and photos when I make it again this fall. It is this love of food that keeps me fighting the good fight against squash bugs.

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June 2nd, 2011

In Pursuit of Imperfection

Just because no one has ever asked me why this blog is called the Real World Gardener doesn’t mean I’m not going to answer the question.  Or at least try.

I am a real world gardener because:

  • Sometimes I forget to turn off hose off and I flood my garden.
  • Sometimes I plant things too close.
  • Sometimes the weeds take over because I have other things to do like: go to work, wash the dishes, or take out the trash.
  • Sometimes, however much I would like not to use any plastic in my garden, using plastic is often unavoidable (e.g. the hose).

I am a real world gardener because I am a living example of how easy it is to have an organic garden without trying too hard, without over thinking it.

realworldgardener060211-calendula

the first bloom of re-seeding calendula

Somewhere, somehow, over the course of my life I’ve come to understand that beauty lies in imperfection, which has led me on an interesting path. If this path had a tagline, it would be: in pursuit of imperfection. So if beauty lies in the imperfection, and if there’s also truth in beauty, then the truth is somehow imperfect. Or imperfection is truthful.

realworldgardener060211-zukes

The first zucchini of the year.

How does this relate to my gardening? And what does it have to do with the real world? Well, I love the way my garden changes from day to day, season to season, year to year. It’s an ever-evolving place for me to learn, to make mistakes, to achieve the truthful imperfection that I so admire in the world. And that is the crux of it: the real world isn’t perfect but it is absolutely beautiful, not despite it’s flaws, but because of them.

realworldgardener060211-trellis     This trellis was easy to build with bamboo and twine. It took lots of patience—weaving the net was very time consuming, but well worth it. The peas love it, and soon the cucumbers and tomatoes will too!

This trellis was easy to build with bamboo and twine. It took lots of patience—weaving the net was very time consuming, but well worth it. The peas love it, and soon the cucumbers and tomatoes will too!

Well, I hope this clears it all up for you. -eric

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