The war is over

Ever since the Chinese Lantern Plants started peaking out of soil the insects decided they are delectable. Hundreds of the interesting little creatures descended on the fine leaves.

Normally, I co-exist well with insects, as long as they stay outside. I leave them alone and study their fascinating tiny bodies. But this year, they are destroying my plants. I declared war and started looking for ways to rid my flower bed of those pests.

Leaning toward organic gardening, I decided to try an insecticide made with herb oils. Even after dousing the leaves, the lacy holes continued to appear. Next I used dish soap in water, soaking the plants, which accomplished little.

By now, the insects had spread to other fine-leafed plants, like my morning glories and sweet potato vines. I had never seen such a variety of cool little creatures, but the plants were turning into stubs. The war was making my stomach sick.

The idea of using an insecticide that would kill everything, even the beneficial insects, was abhorrent, but I wanted to save my plants. I would stand in front of the pesticide isle in the garden center where I work studying the different products, picking up one after another, reading the label and then putting it back. That went on for a couple of weeks.

Finally, I decided to try a dust, even though it is mildly harmful to humans and aquatic animals. The holes in the can are too big to leave the fine dust it recommends, so I sprinkled it on the plants and then shook them to spread the insecticide around.

For days afterward, I fretted about dumping something like that into the environment. It was the same when I attacked weeds in the lawn. Did I say lawn? There is barely any grass, and I knew I couldn’t deal with all those weeds by digging them up. So I bought some Weed-be-gone. I didn’t use it for weeks. I would take the bottle out of the cupboard, read it over and put it back. Once when I was determined I would strike the weeds, I was given a reprieve. I mowed the lawn first, and when I read the label, it said not to spray within two days of mowing.

I did finally use the Weed-be-gone, and it seems to be helping. But I don’t think I can do that again…

Anyway, the insecticide dust does not seem to be working. There are a variety of holes, paths and different things on and in the leaves of most of my ornamentals, but the stress of the war is getting to be too much.

My tomatoes look great, the beans and squash are doing OK, and the garlic is growing well. The other herbs also are doing well, so I am going to stop fretting and see how nature takes care of things. I decided to work letting it go and be thankful for whatever I get. I have been much more relaxed since I made that decision.

The Chinese lantern plants are in shambles this year, so I probably will not be drying any for flower arrangements. Next year, I hope the insects and I can co-exist without such trauma.


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