This is Eli

A blog about Eli. A blog about survival – and by that, I mean life!

The frugal garden

Right, so I had stomach flu most of last week; it was a hellish gastro nightmare!

I kept trying to exert mind control over my body and tell it that I wasn’t sick. I had things to do. Like, I went to work. I sat down and noticed the photos on the wall were…pulsing. Like those trippy 90s prints that turned into something else while you stared in awe at the mall kiosk eating fro yo. I went home and slept for six hours.

It was hard to accept the 10th circle of gastro hell.

At one point between cold sweats, I walked out to the garden to check on this adorable green pumpkin that had sprouted.

oooh adorable pumpkin

oooh adorable pumpkin

Oooh organic green sugar pumpkin, you are so cuuuuute WHAT THE???



A maggot. A maggot squirmed out of a hole it had burrowed in my pumpkin.

I dry heaved.

To the squash! I knelt and lifted leaves of a summer squash plant. Three flat gross bugs scurried off. I picked up this dear little yellow bulb…

Another maggot.

Cold sweating dry heaving…

I picked it, yelled “Assholes!” and threw it into a neighbor’s yard before retreating in defeat and collapsing for another three-hour nap.

Why “Assholes?”


Why did I chuck it at the neighbor’s house?


From above picture of my humble patch of earth you may deduce we don’t live in a “Keeping up with the Joneses” neighborhood. Correct. My down-to-earth neighbor’s aren’t going to judge you if your pickup parts start to rust. Bonus: My street is void of both meth houses and cars in the yard propped up on cinder blocks.

Confession: The sight of the neighbor’s yard beyond the chain link makes my eyes bleed so a maggot squash wasn’t, like, deplete their overgrown weed aesthetic.

What I did come to know is that squash bugs – these flat little A-holes that lay gross eggs on leaves — had infiltrated my adorable squash and pumpkin patch.

I mean…I created raised beds from the remnants of an old patio that had been hiding under a weed-infested ornamental grass patch. It took four weekends!

I could use the words “urban” and “up-cycled” in the same sentence even…if I wanted to…I would never…but just in case


I’m not sure if the maggots are from the squash bugs or just maggots.

Either way GROSS. Either way, they were everywhere.

You're dead to me

You’re dead to me

More Googling and the pieces of the puzzle started to fit together.

Two weeks ago I noticed the leaves on a pumpkin plant started to droop, then turn yellow, then black. We were in the middle of a heat wave, so I just watered more.

It didn’t help; the leaves just kept dying.

After I discovered the invasion of vermin, I found that I could either spend my time plucking out maggots, smashing eggs and elusive, fast-moving squash bug a-holes, or I could throw down an insecticide.

I sought an “in between” option — organic insecticide.

Right, I rained down nuclear winter of insecticide on those a-holes.


Right, then I looked at the canister and noticed “organic” was nowhere on the label — hadn’t it been? What was I, dehydrated and delusional when I plucked it off a Lowe’s shelf?

I looked at the label, which had poison control-esque instructions for any contact with this substance. I noticed the insecticide meant to be spread over 1,000-square feet, and I’d turned five plants to Chernobyl.



And then Laila says to me,

“Mommy, why would we eat that if you put poison on it?”

“Yeah – good point, Laila.”

I ripped out the damn pumpkin and squash patch.

There are two zucchini plants I didn’t obliterate with poison. These are laced with gross squash bug larvae/eggs/bugs.

Pretty sure I’m going to throw those out too.

I don’t have time to be an organic gardener!

What was I, drunk when I came up with this idea?

Next spring, I might try to research plan better to control bugs.

For now, I’ll cut my losses and throw down some herb seeds.

I’m going to make a booze garden.

You know, a patch of herbs you put in mixed drinks.

Over one of those drinks, I’ll contemplate planting squash for a winter harvest in a different part of the yard.

With a drink in my hand, it’ll sound like a real swell idea.

Before this episode, we harvested two summer squashes and a zucchini.

For a first effort, it’ll do. It’ll do.

The frugal garden's yield: two summer squash

The frugal garden’s yield: two summer squash


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