Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Would ya gimme a break???

I seem to be encountering every obstacle in my landscape, this year. One thing that promised to be plentiful was the basil. The Genovese Italian basil with the monstrous glossy green leaves was overtaking even the pepper plants, in size. I saw lots of pesto in my future!
I was so pleased with this crop, I begged Mother-in-Law to come for dinner of grilled pizzas with tomatoes and mozzarella and this fresh basil. She accepted and I went out to water them.
I couldn't believe what I saw when I brought the hose over to my raised herb bed. The plants were covered in Japanese Beetles. Covered. Most of the plants were chewed, the leaves were lace.
Well, folks, I am not too proud to tell you I sat down and cried. Right then and there. I stomped my feet and had a tantrum, threw myself down and cried. Just like a grown woman should.
I would sure like something to go right, I thought to myself. I couldn't spray food with Sevin, like I did the crabapples and Linden. What will stop this scourge?? It's like a Biblical plague. Then, it dawned on me:
Floating Row Cover
I picked myself up off the lawn and ran inside and "googled" Floating Row Cover. Few places carry it, anymore. It seems to be out of garden fashion. Any place that did carry it wouldn't deliver it for 10 days.
The Japanese Beetles will have totally devoured my basil by then!!
I texted Ronda, who seemed to have so many good ideas. She came thru, yet again. She suggested tulle. The tulle that was in the fabric section at the WallyWorld. She's brilliant, I tell you. A gardener needs a friend like that, you know? Luckily, she was going to the city, she says she'll pick it up for me. In a matter of hours, we had the offending beetles shaken off the basil and the tulle pinned around the basil plants. 
Later that evening, I went out to check and sure enough, there were Japanese Beetles on the inside, munching away on my basil. They were probably hiding under the basil leaves when we placed the tulle. I took the tulle off, flung the beetles away, stripped off all the chewed up leaves and pinned the tulle back in place. 
This morning, I went straight out there, to see how it worked. This is what I found:

These are on the OUTSIDE! It works!! The tulle is very fragile, I snagged it on the small tomato cage the keeps it above the plants themselves, and that tore a tiny hole in it, so I will have to be more careful.

Today was a miserable day. Truly, I think it is the worst day I've ever had at this job. I went to 3 stores, tossing plants in the dumpsters and by the third store, it was well into the 90's, with heat index over 110°.
thought I was going to be sick for about an hour. I look back on my conversations with my friends at that store, and I wonder if they knew how sick I felt. I kept look at her and thinking, she looks great, why isn't she feeling bad? How isn't she so hot??

I needed to move on, fully intent on going to one last store, so I finished tossing some stuff and I said good-bye and headed south east. I got ten miles down the road and became dizzy, feeling out of control in my car. I pulled the car over in a Sonic drive thru and suddenly knew I was in trouble. I felt very sick, my stomach cramping and my head pounding. I couldn't stand the air conditioning in the car, any more. I opened the car door and fell out onto a strip of grass. I was dizzy and my ears were buzzing. I could hear the bell sounding over and over, the noise the car makes when the key is in the ignition and you leave the door open. I was just trying to hear the bell, trying to make sure I stayed with it, trying not to pass out. But it wasn't the bell...it was an employee of the Sonic. She was saying, ma'am? ma'am? ma'am?
She had brought out a huge cup of ice water and she was holding it out to me. Oh, I felt so silly, sitting in the grass with the door open like that, the talk radio was absolutely blaring! I felt fuzzy, but I was drinking the water and I felt a little bit more normal. I thanked her profusely and I ran into the restroom and got very very sick. I gave that Sonic all the water back. I realized I was probably in heat distress, or something. I ran the cold water in the Sonic sink and practically took a bath in it. I looked at my reflection in the mirror and my face was so red. I was scared to drive because I was shaking so much. After a while, the employee who brought the water was knocking on the door to see if I was alive. 
I opened the door and told her I was ok, that I felt much better. I said, I bet you think I am a drunk driver or something, don't you?? But she said, no, I was very dirty and had a tree leaf in my hair, she could tell I worked outside because my shirt had a greenhouse's name on it. I thanked her again and got back in the car, (which I had left running with the key in it!), I got in the drive thru and ordered 3 drinks. Large. With sugar. 
50 miles down the road, I began to feel normal again. I was sweating again. 
I got in the shower when I got home and sat and had a cup of tea. I realized I hadn't eaten all day and made the strangest thing for dinner:
Spaghetti noodles with American cheese. Can you imagine? Two reasons to question my sanity. 
1) I continue to do this job with it being even hotter tomorrow
2) Spaghetti with American cheese???


  1. Glad you're okay. It's pretty rough out there, I know. Slow down a little and drink lots! See ya tomorrow!

  2. Sounds like you had a very scary day! I worry about you because you always take care of everyone else, who takes care of you my friend? Please slow down and take care of yourself, saying a prayer for you to get through the rest of this week safely. Love you friend!

  3. That is very scary! It could have turned out much more seriously than it did, thank goodness. I hope that there is a way you can continue working, but protect yourself too.

    Japanese Beetles are definitely a plague. I'm glad the tulle is working. One of the things that drives me nuts about them is that they don't always attack the same plant, so from year to year it's hard to know what to protect!

  4. Glad you are feeling better, Sissy.

    I make the same spaghetti, but I put cheddar cheese and lots of pepper on it. YUM!

    I was going to use tulle to cover my cherry tree before the birds got all the cherries. After thinking of the hassle of getting a ladder to get to the top, etc., I just let the birds have them all. I hope it works great for your basil crop - so much easier to cover that one.

  5. I keep hearing of so many with major JB this year. Let's hope you don't have the same problem next year. Your friend's suggestion was great though. Hope you do better in the heat today.
    Cher Sunray Gardens
    Goldenray Yorkies

  6. Oh, dear...and I just am getting to know you. I hope that you have a better day today. I don't know what to say except drink lots of water and try to slow down...go in some places to cool down.
    J. Beetles love Basil I found too. I just cut the plants down to the ground and figured by the time they got new leaves the beetles would be gone. I think that it's a losing battle this year. I'll remember the tulle next year.

  7. Sissy,
    Glad you are ok. Please, please be careful out there. No job is worth that sacrifice! Hope it's over for you soon.
    Lots of discussion out here amongst farmers about the Jap beetles. They are becoming a major agricultural pest. Perhaps that will spur some solutions to controlling populations. Hopefully though without killing ourselves!


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