Friday, February 27, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

You can’t win against these monsters

DebraDeAngeloW

By
From page A6 | August 17, 2014 |

* Editor’s note: Debra is on vacation. For your reading pleasure, here is one of her columns originally published in September 1997.

You say your thumb’s so black you can’t even grow hair? Try tomatoes. All they need is plenty of sunlight, some summer heat and a little fertilizer. If I can grow them, trust me, you can, too.

This year, I planted cherry tomatoes. Instead of liquid fertilizer, I experimented with solid spikes. The box said push one spike into the soil at the base of each plant, so I pushed in three.

“Moderation” is not in my vocabulary.

Before long, the plants burst skyward, spilling over the tops of their cages like hanging ferns. By mid-summer each branch hung heavy with clusters of sweet, red, juicy little orbs.

I couldn’t have been prouder if I’d given birth to them.

I strolled out into the back yard last week to view my little beauties and froze in horror at what I saw. An entire section of one of the plants was stripped bare. Nothing left but stems.

There is only one creature on Earth, aside from a 2-year-old child, that can cause this kind of destruction. I moved closer to get a better look. My fears were confirmed. Tomato bugs. The most vile, disgusting little demons ever to violate a garden.

A few tomato bugs can strip a plant bare in a single day, destroying months’ worth of tender loving care. These creatures are devoid of any positive qualities or usefulness or, minimally, even the tiniest bit of aesthetic value.

You look at a tomato bug, and you have to stop and wonder what God was thinking — hideous, fat green caterpillars with voracious appetites, truly loathsome from the end of their spine-tipped tails to the tips of their ever-gnawing mouths.

And (all children please leave the room) they deserve to die.

But how to carry out the mass execution. This required some thought. You can’t squash them, because the result is a phlegm-like green splat. They don’t seem to have any natural enemies and pesticide only makes them mad.

They can’t even be frightened off. If you try to flick them from the plants, they writhe and wriggle like tiny snakes, and if you really pester them, they rear back their ugly heads and make nasty little clicking noises. It’s such a revolting display, that one can only shudder and back away.

I’ve heard of some sort of live bacteria that can be fed to the plants that kills the bugs, but I didn’t like the thought of eating bacteria-laced tomatoes. Which is also why I don’t use steer manure for fertilizer.

I needed help from someone who views life from a, shall we say, “innovative” perspective. Someone about three clicks off center. Someone who thinks of things that would never occur to your average person. Like stuffing Play Doh into his sister’s ear canals.

I called in The Boy.

He observed the infestation, pondered it for a moment, then announced that he had a solution. I told him I didn’t want to hear the gory details, just do them in quickly and tell me when it’s over.

I tried to stay away, really I did, but I got that sinking feeling mothers get when the house is too quiet. I had to look.

There was the boy, gleefully catapulting the little beasties skyward, right over the fence.

Oh, the agonies my neighbors have endured.

I only hope the bugs landed in some fashion other than a slimy green splatter on someone’s patio.

Sending the bugs into orbit was a bad choice, I told him. Try again. I could see the little wheels of his mind spinning frantically, then he outlined this plan: throw the bugs into the swimming pool. Any that didn’t drown, he’d fish out and light on fire with his dad’s lighter.

It was yet another moment when I’ve wondered if the boy was switched at birth.

I relieved The Terminator of his duties and told him I’d solve the problem myself.

I knocked the little devils into a coffee can, sealed it up and waited for them to suffocate. It was a solid plan. My plants looked a bit ragged, but there wasn’t a bug in sight.

For a while.

Unfortunately, I only put a dent in the tomato bug population, and an insignificant one at that. Within days, the branches of my tomato plants sagged from the weight of legions of fat green caterpillars, devouring everything in sight.

Maybe I lost the battle, but I wasn’t going to lose the war. If I couldn’t have my tomatoes then nobody — or no thing — would either. I plucked off every tomato that could be salvaged, pulled the plants up by the roots and heaved them onto the trash pile.

I may have lost my plants, but at least I had a basket full of plump, red cherry tomatoes as a consolation prize. I left them on the table like a centerpiece.

The next morning, I went into the kitchen and glanced proudly at my little harvest. If I was a cartoon character, little eyeballs on springs would have burst from my eye sockets.

Most of the tomatoes had split and were oozing juice like deflating balloons. A cloud of fruit flies swarmed over the basket, crawling over my tomatoes, no doubt depositing their revolting little larvae in every crack and crevice.

This must be Mother Nature’s way of saying “touché.”

— Email Debra DeAngelo at [email protected]; read more of her work at www.wintersexpress.com and www.ipinionsyndicate.com

Comments

comments

Debra DeAngelo

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

     
    New greenhouse will add to ‘Farm to Mouth’ program

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Learn about pollinators, gardens and honey at Yolo Basin fundraiser

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Fire damages South Davis home

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    Can you give them a home?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    For the record

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

    Explorit: Humming right along

    By Lisa Justice | From Page: A3

     
    Flower arrangers feature S.F. designer

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Celebrate Africa on Saturday at I-House

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Gerber nominations close Saturday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Chamber explores how to pay for Davis’ needs

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Wolk and Dodd team up to provide Napa earthquake tax relief

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Robb Davis to speak about homelessness, energy

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Spring sing-along is March 4

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Documentary on immigration issues will be screened

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

    Learn about your brain on March 14

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    A fill-up mishap

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

    Two free yoga classes offered March 12

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Take a night walk at Cache Creek

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    Class of 1970 plans 45-year reunion

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Bicycle safety course to be offered in Davis

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    Adopt a household for Bridge to Housing participants

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    Workshop will teach sustainable gardening methods

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

     
    .

    Forum

    Tired of all of this

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Start early to build healthy dental habits

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B6

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: B6

    No extra cost for containers

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B6

     
    Oral Health Project launches

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B6

    Here an H, there an H

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B6

     
    Cavalier attitude about bike safety

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B6

    .

    Sports

    Aggie women fall to 4th after lackluster showing

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Lady Devils are on to the SJS semis

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Blue Devil boys expect a spike in production

    By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Inquiring minds want to know about Aggies

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

    Encouraging start for DHS boys tennis team

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Off day for Aggie men at UCSB

    By Kim Orendor | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Late goal lifts Red Wings over Sharks

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

     
    Watney struggling at windy Honda Classic

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B12

     
    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    International Film Series to present ‘Jaffa’

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

     
    Monticello announces March schedule

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

    The Artery presents ‘Stepping Into Nature’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A10 | Gallery

     
    YoloArts’ Gallery 625 presents ‘The Poetry of Dots’

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10 | Gallery

    ‘Focus': A sharply conceived caper

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A11 | Gallery

     
    The Woodland Opera House announces 2015-16 season

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A12 | Gallery

    .

    Business

    Nissan’s Z remains an affordable performer

    By Ann M. Job | From Page: B3

     
    Car Care: Simple DIY steps to protect your car through all seasons

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Dieter W. Gruenwedel

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    George Miller Jr.

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Death notice: Celia E. Recchio

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Vernon E. Burton

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Friday, February 27, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: B5