The Biggest Little Garden Pests

I’ve been digging in the dirt this week. It’s still unseasonably cold for mid-June (13 Celsius this morning), but I can’t afford to wait for heat any longer. One batch of tomato plants has already been killed by frost, so I pulled them out, bought some new seedlings, and went on a planting spree. Peppers, beans, onions, tomatoes, zucchini, and squash will, hopefully, be on our table in a couple of months’ time. I’ve also got two nice blueberry bushes, several pots of herbs, and lots of flower transplants that are doing well. Now it just needs to warm up and we’ll all thrive.

Gardening with the kids has been especially challenging in the past few days, though. Maybe the gardening novelty has worn off from earlier this spring and now it seems they’re constantly looking for mischief and ways to create additional work for me — just what I need. There are several main points of contention when we’re working outside together.

The little mischief makers
The little mischief makers

1. The raised vegetable bed, filled with rich, dark topsoil and compost, is their ideal spot to play. When I’m not paying attention, they haul their Tonka dump trucks, diggers, and graders from their recently filled and perfectly good sandbox and start churning up the garden dirt instead. I’ve banned trucks entirely from the garden, but that rule is needing some serious enforcement.

2. The cute baby plants are simply begging to be plucked. When a little pepper plant got in the way of A.’s grader yesterday, he just pulled it right out of the dirt while I flung myself at him, shrieking “NO!” I tried to explain that this would grow our food someday, that we need to treat it with respect, but it’s hard for a three-year-old to grasp that.

3. The hose is dangerously tempting. For some inexplicable reason, A. never wants to water the garden. Instead, he waters everything else, including his little brother, who notifies me of whatever latest soaking he’s undergone by screaming bloody murder. Or he waters the inside of the house by spraying through the open window. It’s absolutely infuriating.

4. Ants are at constant risk of death when L. is outside. He’s only eighteen months old, but L. is a fierce ant-hunter. He tracks them across the patio, babbling loudly and excitedly while pointing with his chubby finger upright. He squats down and grabs one with his fingertips, squishing it to that horrible, tortuous in-between stage that’s not totally fatal but damaging. Then he brings it to me, saying “ma,” which is his invented word for anything alive that moves. I put the ant out of its misery with a quick squish, but then L. goes off looking for another. No ant is safe on our property.

With these kinds of distractions, even the quickest gardening job takes forever, but it will be totally worth it once those little seedlings establish themselves.

You might also like:
Garden Therapy
Lawns into Gardens: an act of horticultural rebellion
7 Reasons to Plant a Garden with Your Kids

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One thought on “The Biggest Little Garden Pests

  1. I need an ant hunter like that in my garden! You can bring L over here and he can take care of the ants that are eating our strawberries 🙂 When my kids see ants in the strawberry patch they just say “oh no, an ant!” and keep on munching.

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