Unwanted Visitors in the Garden

October 3, 2012 § Leave a comment

By Kyle Brookens

Patel, the farmer from India, showed me that someone had been cutting the cabbage with a knife (well, from what I could decipher). The language barrier between Patel and I is impossible to ignore, but I can usually get a good understanding of what he is trying to communicate to me; it just takes a lot of time. Yesterday, October 1, 2012, Patel interrupted me when I was clipping the tops of the Basil in the hoop-house. He relentlessly sought to take the scissors from my hands even though I just wanted to continue my work. He is a hard man to ignore, so I inevitably gave up my scissors. He opened and closed them a few times, inspected them, and turned to me with a disapproving look in his eyes. He said nothing that I could understand except for the word “scissors.” I could only nod, smile, and say “good.” Patel turned his back to me and motioned that I follow him, so I did. He took me to the front of the hoop house, pointed, and gestured at the table, repeating “no scissors.” He talked for a few minutes in the Hindi languages of either Indo-Aryan or the Dravidian, then motioned me to follow again, saying “come.” I could not resist, because I really wanted to understand what he wanted me to know, or what I did wrong.

He brought me to the cabbage patch, began to speak rapidly, and glared at me with another what-the-hell kind of look. He said another word that I could understand, and that word was “knife.” Judging by how he was speaking with his words and body, and by how the cabbage looked, I believe he thought that I or some other college student had been taking scissors and knives to the cabbage, and leaving about half of the bulb to set in the sun. The cabbage plants were actually half eaten by deer who could not surprisingly get though the most unpractical fence I have ever seen. The fence seems to exist just so people who walk or drive by don’t have to see the ‘dirty hippies’ working in the garden. The fascist structure of the institution gave us a great looking fence that had no practical use. They forgot to run the fence all the way to the building, and because of this, the deer can continue to come and go as they please.  If you ask me, the fence, as it is this very moment, is nothing more than a huge waste of $4,000 that originally came from the student body. Since students like myself find this appalling, we will finish the job,and literally bridge the gap. In doing so, Patel will be relieved, and the deer will be excluded from consuming our hard earned produce.

Aside from the deer in the Chipeta quad, I also had an encounter with aphids on the Thai Hot peppers and the spilanthes plant today on October 2, 2012. They must have hitched a ride with Mark Waltimire when he provided me with the starts in the middle of September. This was quite an irritating find, but it was good that I found them sooner rather than later. Fortunately, yet unfortunately, these same pests infested my pepper plants at home early September, so I had some experience getting rid of them. I began to kill each bug individually for about a week, but once I realized that the procedure was inefficient and ineffective, I blasted my plants with a jet of water. Aphids went flying everywhere as I happily grinned. I know ladybugs are a natural predator, but I preferred saving myself the cost. I waited another week and checked to see if any aphids had survived. Just as I expected, many aphids survived my blast of furry. My nest step was creating a homemade insecticide.

I harvested a handful of Thai Hot peppers and blended them with a cup of water to begin the process of creating a spicy insecticide. I used cheese cloth to strain all the large chunks of pepper, and used 4 tablespoons of the extracted pepper juice, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of vinegar and, 2 teaspoons of soap, in a 32 oz spray bottle. I filled the remaining space with water to dilute the high concentration of insecticide. I doused the pepper plants with the spray bottle, waited 2 days, and sprayed them again. I then waited a week. At this point, all the flowers on my peppers had died and fallen off, but so did the aphids. I considered this a success. Kyle 1, aphids 0. Based on my past experience with aphids, I instantly blasted the peppers and spilanthes plants with a jet of water, made another batch of my insecticide, and doused the plants. Although I had successfully removed the aphids from my peppers, I found a colony of aphids attacking my Basil plants just 2 days ago, and you guessed it, they received the same treatment. I also harvested the Basil and made some pesto to eliminate a large portion of their food source. This way, they had little to no places to hide.

All in all, the score is tied- deer, 1; aphids, 0; Kyle 1. If the aphids happen to prevail I will bring out the big guns (a.k.a. project carnivorous ladybug). As far as the deer go, we will finish building the fence, and hire Patel to ward them away with a knife and a pair of scissors in his hand.

As an interesting side-note, Spilanthes plant leaves, stems, roots, flowers, and tinctures are consumed for the following reasons:

  • saliva inducer
  • coffee replacement (because it is a stimulant)
  • toothache reliever
  • gum builder
  • anti-bacterial
  • anti-viral
  • anti-fungal
  • immune stimulant
  • improve blood circulation
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