This Means War

Our household is at war, locked in an epic battle with garden pests and chronic illness. The two are not so very different. They’re both prone to sneak attacks. They both come around about the time you’re patting yourself on the back for being in the clear. They ravage everything you’ve worked hard to grow, build, learn. And they’re repeat customers.

For the last couple of weeks, fatigue has been relentless. It is my constant companion. D-Ribose hasn’t helped. Multi-vitamins haven’t helped. Nothing. It has been impossible to do more than drag around for an hour or so before collapsing on the couch again.

This spell is reminiscent of the one that got me diagnosed with CFS over ten years ago. That first one was the worst I’d had — until now. There is not much to do but pray and ride it out.

Work on our hydrangea beds and my new vegetable bed for the fall has come to a grinding halt. Whenever I could muster up a little bit of energy for yard work, the weather would not cooperate. A tropical system over the Gulf of Mexico is dropping lots of rain on us this week. Not a good time to dig new beds.

While checking on my vegetable plants yesterday I made a horrible discovery. Our beautiful bell pepper fruit was lying on the ground, hollow and mushy, with a nasty black hole chewed right in the side. It had been gnawed off at the stem. Several branches on the plant itself are missing, and the leaves have extra holes in them.


The tomato plant was in worse condition. There are very few leaves left on it that are in good shape. All but one of its flowers was eaten. The culprits were kind enough to leave me one little shred of hope, no pun intended.

The single tomato fruit hanging on the plant had been green and not growing for an awfully long time. To look at it, the fruit appeared to be fine. Just not progressing. I decided to turn it over and inspect the side lying against the stalk. Yep… big bore holes. The tomato was nothing but an empty shell. Judging by how long it had sat there without making progress, I’d say it was somebody’s lunch along about a week ago.

L: The Culprit  R: The Damage

Remember several posts ago when I promised I would not Google “poop?” Turns out you can learn quite a bit from doing so.  At least from Googling “poop on tomato plants.”  Thanks to our friends at The Old Farmer’s Almanac, I have properly identified the enemy (well, one of them, at least).

Tomato Hornworms

The irony of all this is that our back porch has been visited many, many times by the hornworm moth. Often they get in the house, and I have over the years been kind enough to catch the very large ones and release them back onto the porch. Little did I know they’d one day become Public Enemy Number One. I am feeling much less charitable these days.

I may not be able to march to the pharmacy and buy the perfect pill to wipe out CFS, but I can find something to take care of these worms. As soon as my energy levels rise enough to leave the house, it’s off to the lawn and garden department at Lowe’s.

So, par for the course, this fall looks to be full of Plan B’s. I had very much hoped to grow pumpkins in time for the Halloween season. But that is not going to happen this year. I planted about half a dozen pumpkin seeds back in July. But they turned out to be duds. Nothing grew. I picked up a new pack of seeds at Tractor Supply. But I just cannot get the new bed done in time. My Plan B is to complete the bed and then consult the almanac for what’s suitable to plant at that time. No use getting my hopes up over something that won’t grow.

My tomato and bell pepper plants may be able to recover with the right help from a good insecticide. I will not pull them up or give up hope yet. I might just get a fruit or two off them before the end of the growing season. And by the spring I should have a leg up on these pests when I expand my garden. There’s always something to learn, even from our Plan B’s.

© 2015-2016 Our Lives in Stories


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