How does our family know that it’s spring? It could be that the cars are covered with green-yellow pollen. Or, it could be that Matt and Jake are sneezing all day long. Or, it could be the daffodils or the tulips or the irises that are blooming. Or, it could be that that I now run outside twice a day to water seedlings and check to see which new plant has erupted from the ground.
But the greatest clue, is that the Battle of the Bugs has begun. Yesterday I was outside in the chill of the morning with my tank sprayer of Neem Oil (a safe “natural” oil that treats all kinds of nasty vermin plus black spot and powdery mildew). If I’d been smart, I would have cleaned each part of the tank sprayer before mixing up the Neem Oil. When a tank sprayer sits all winter, salts form in different parts of the sprayer and clog the lines. Needless to say, I wasn’t smart. Instead, I filled the tank, pumped, and tried to spray. Nothing. I decided to open the tank without considering the pressure that the tank was under. With an explosive woosh, I got a face full of Neem Oil—for the next week I can be sure my face will not get aphids, powdery mildew, Japanese beetles or black spot. What a relief!?
After I finished spraying the plants, (Death to the aphids sucking the juices from my irises and rose buds!), I washed my face right away. But at dinner I was still flaking off bits of dried Neem Oil.
Today when I was outside, I noticed snails and slugs. And they’d attacked one of my new lilies of the valley. I’m currently out of Deadline, but Ace Hardware is just down the street. And I don’t think my neighbors will care if I use it. When we lived in Santa Cruz I had to put out Deadline under cover of darkness. Our neighbor “raised” snails. Not the kind that would become escargot. She raised garden snails to feed to road-kill possums that people brought to the SPCA where she worked as a puppy counselor. (Don’t even get me started on her theories of puppy training, which included, “teach a dog not to bark by teaching him to bark on command and then never give him the command. ?!? Like that would work—of course, she’d never owned a dog...) Back to the snails. My neighbor didn’t actually feed the snails. They came over to our yard during the night and stripped our plants bare. Fed-up, I bought Deadline and drew my snail-killing-line-of-death around each plant. The next day, I had over fifty dead snails. She saw me cleaning them up and had a hissy fit. Personally, I believe that possums ought to be road-kill. But I didn’t exactly tell her that as foam was spewing from the corners of her mouth.
Some people begin spring by sneezing, some people by cutting the flowers, I start spring by gearing up with my Deadline and tank sprayer. Lock and load, baby!