Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Girl vs. Garden

This is my lawnmower. 
It was given to me, by my father, as a gift on Father's Day. 

If you teach a man to fish...

Starting this $20 yard sale gem might be one of the hardest things I have ever done over, and over, and over.
And still failed.
Yes, I cried.
And I might have called it a foul name or two.

Add this to the fact that I only just learned how to mow a lawn in the past year.
I was given the lawn as a chore once when I was 15 and was never allowed to do it again.
My lines weren't straight enough.

Don't worry, I did plenty of other chores well enough to have them permanently assigned.

Anyhow, after several replacement parts, lawnmower and I are becoming friendly.
I even mow lines in my yard.
They're still not perfect.
But that's why I don't live with my parents.

You should know that in addition to my wild 'someday' fantasy of having a second home in the South of France, I also have a fascination with self sufficiency.
Like, gardens and chickens.

I have french linens that I hang on the clothesline because it makes me feel like I am at my 'someday' second home.
You know, in France.
Because that's not pathetic. At all.

And no chickens yet, but I do have my first "real" garden this year.
And by real, I mean more than herbs and tomatoes growing in pots.
Two raised beds full of all my favorites!

I am not delusional.
Obviously I can't possibly live off the grid, or the land, or whatever,
AND have a second home in the South of France.

There is a point to all this.
I swear.

So, in my garden, live some tomatoes.
The tomatoes look a little sad.
I investigate and find said sad tomatoes have BUGS.

I hate bugs.

Especially bugs that are referred to as LICE - plant or otherwise.
300 Google searches later, I determine the tomatoes have aphids, or plant lice.
And apparently, like the hair kind, these lice are hard to get rid of.

I say bring it.
And because Dad says I can't have a garden without using chemicals, and organic is stupid...
I won't be using chemicals.
Because even an adult girl can't listen to her father.

I learn that aphids also attack roses, and bolt out to the rose bushes to see if they are killing my beloved roses!
I find this:

OH MY GOD, I have an invasion of spiny hairy BUGS!

This is where it gets good.
Why are they spotted?
Thanks to Google and toys for a 4-year-old, I learn that I have Ladybugs!

Okay, ready for the good part?
Ladybugs' favorite food is aphids!
I know, you can't contain your excitement. 

According to the toy, we have some stage 2 larvae and stage 3 pupa.
You learn something every day.

My genius plan was to move some of these ladies over to the tomatoes.
I moved one and watched her devour an aphid, which was strangely exciting.

So far, the kids have had a great time being ladybug runners (we found them in the apple tree too) but sadly, every ladybug has mysteriously disappeared.

I know how nail biting the garden adventure has been thus far, so I will be sure to update you on the success or failure of the great ladybug migration.

Even though I have a bajillion other things that have to get done today and every day, somehow this little garden makes me very very happy.

I highly recommend getting one.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you found out ladybugs are fantastic organic aphid slayers. unfortunately if there is any latent pesticide (aka nerve gas) their lives could be prematurely ended. I'm also sure something else eats ladybugs. Maybe there is a way to increase ladybug presence throughout the year? I'm going to see if I can get a friend of mine to farm them and sell them to organic farmers. Wouldn't that be fantastic?

    As an aside, if you aren't afraid of non-gas powered mowers the push mowers don't require starting (unless you count starting to push them.) You might consider using one. Borrow one from a friend and try it out first though! I've heard they can be tough if you're small.

    Also, living off of your capital is similar to living off of the land. You have to have a critical amount in order to be fully self supporting. But even if you can't be fully self supporting a small amount can make life a lot easier. Not sure what the laws are in the area where you live right now but chickens can be farmed on a small scale in city limits (and there are over 80,000 people in the city where I live). That means cheap eggs you can rely on. Rabbits might be a cheap alternative for meat if you are willing to kill them and they are very easy to raise. There have been rebates on solar panels. One of the many options may be just right for you? Those companies like Solindra failed because they were selling the panels below cost. See if you can take advantage of that and buy leftovers. There are even versions that can be used to directly supplement your hot water heating. These things require capital investments up front (some combination of energy, effort and money) and the idea is they pay for themselves over time. The great thing about money though is that it's so flexible. Capitalism gives us a lot of great alternatives. Some even yield higher returns than the environmental conservation options. It depends on your preferences but at some point you will run out of capital investments in other sectors and investing in your personal environmental sustainability will start to make sense. I hope you find the most productive balance. If you'd like assistance in valuation I would be very happy to help!