Frugal family, budget garden: The Invasion

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

Frugal family: 5 ingredients for a budget garden

Due to the prevalence of deadlines and end-of-year-everything, I’ve neglected to write as of late.

Ah, we’ve been busy.

Here is just one of our cockamamie schemes: growing a garden the old-fashioned way.

Fingers crossed: maybe this is our year. 

Nature has obliterated gardens past with some combination of storm or drought.

Eli gardens
Eli gardens

Continue reading Frugal family: 5 ingredients for a budget garden

World Naked Gardening Day: Saturday, May 2 – this is a thing?

Tomorrow — Saturday, May 2, is World Naked Gardening Day.

Continue reading World Naked Gardening Day: Saturday, May 2 – this is a thing?

A garden: third time’s the charm?

I have never claimed to be a maven off anything home and garden.

That’s never stopped me from giving it a go.

Continue reading A garden: third time’s the charm?

Making seed starters from newspaper…and other things I would normally never attempt

I’ve been meaning to write about a trip we took to St. Louis over the weekend but I keep doing things like making seed starters out of newspaper. I don’t know what’s gotten into me since I kill all green living things.

Before we left I germinated a bunch of sunflower, Zinnia and coleus seeds by wrapping these in wet paper towels and putting them in sealed Ziplock bags on my kitchen windowsill. We came back and some had sprouted. I decided we needed little planters, but ah heck na was I about to pay 15 bucks for a schmancy Peat seed starter thingy from Lowes (especially when these poor plants are doomed by either my hand or the drought).

I’m getting these ideas via Google and Pinterest and my sister, who lives in the pastoral Michigan countryside where it is freezing today.

Eli likes the back yard

I’m motivated because I like finding little projects for Laila and I. She’s almost 3 and her attention span has increased to a good solid minute.

Also, our garden died last year after we spent our hard-earned cash on plants. The little garden was a microcosm of OK natural disasters. A tree fell on it, a flood washed out half of the plants, and by the end, only a few hardy marigolds were left standing. All it needed was an ice storm, wildfire and maybe a tornado to round it out. A wee dustbowl would have been a nice touch.

Oooooh, marigolds….I need to find marigold seeds.

Who is this person?

I’ve had a second child and started nesting in my back yard (or have become cheaper…more practical).

Either way, it’s a new season and a lovely time to make a fresh start, in the OK dirt or otherwise.