Garden pest control is a hot topic in gardening conversations. Whether in person or online, everybody has an opinion on this. The thing is, there are so many different pests and so many approaches to garden pest control that it’s hard to say one method is better or worse than another.
Personally, I prefer a natural and organic approach. I use garlic and marigolds to ward off pests in my vegetable garden, and I like neem oil if something is attacking my houseplants. I also know some gardeners and farmers who laugh at the idea that a few marigolds are going to keep a determined rabbit away from my zucchini. They may be right, but it’s worked for me so far.
Speaking of zucchini, that early Summer vegetable plays a big role in today’s story, Battered Zucchini, as does a very particular approach to garden pest control. When writer Betty Carew moved from Newfoundland to the American Midwest, she was excited to grow a large garden full of delicious vegetables like tomatoes, peas, corn, and, naturally, zucchini.
As any gardener would be, Betty was excited at how well most of her vegetables were growing. But one thing puzzled her—no matter how well she tended her garden, the zucchini wasn’t fruiting. “My zucchini plants had lots and lots of big green leaves, but I didn’t see a single zucchini. What could be wrong?”
Indeed, what could be wrong? The answer, my friend, is a new and hilarious approach to dealing with pests in the garden.
Garden Pest Control Has Never Been So Funny, and GreenPrints Has The Stories
This story comes from our archive that spans over 30 years and includes more than 130 magazine issues of GreenPrints. I love pieces like these that turn stories into comical moments of laughter, and I hope you enjoy this story as well.
Nothing was going to get my crop—except me.
By Betty Carew
I grew up in a fishing village in Newfoundland, on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. My parents eked out a meager crop of potatoes, cabbage, turnips, and carrots, but that was all they ever grew at our cold and rocky home. The only thing I ever did to help was carrying vegetables to our cold cellar. So really, I knew nothing about gardening.
Then I got married and we moved to the golden prairies of the American Midwest, where a big home garden was every family’s pride and joy. I wanted to garden, too, so I borrowed a rototiller from a nearby farmer and set to work. Before long I had a garden just as beautiful as my neighbor’s. I wasn’t just growing the potatoes and cabbage of home, either. I planted tomatoes, peas, corn, spinach, lettuce—even zucchini.
Every day I took care of my garden, as tenderly as a mother does her child. The peas, the lettuce, the beans—all grew wonderfully. One thing puzzled me, though. No zucchini! My zucchini plants had lots and lots of big green leaves, but I didn’t see a single zucchini. What could be wrong?
One day I passed the zucchini patch and noticed something huge and dark hiding under the leaves. Some awful animal must be feasting on my zucchini plants, I thought. No wonder I haven’t harvested any.
With my heart beating rapidly, I backed up towards the house and grabbed the baseball bat my husband used with his softball team. No animal was going to beat me to my zucchini!
I crept slowly back to the garden. It was still there—bold enough to think it could just sit there and dine in my presence!
I raised the bat over my head and, with all the strength I could muster, brought it down. Smack! The pest didn’t move. I’d gotten it, but good.
But now—ugh—I was going to have to get rid of it. Expecting the worst, I lifted the large, tattered leaf that had hidden my enemy.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. Under that leaf lay the biggest zucchini I had ever seen, split right in two. I didn’t know they grew under the leaves!
I searched under the other leaves, but that was the only zucchini I found. Why my plants produced only one zucchini, I will never know. Perhaps they were overcrowded.
My farmer friend dropped by later that afternoon and found me in tears. After I told him I had killed my one and only zucchini, I looked up to see that he was in tears, also.
But they were not tears of sorrow. ❖
By Betty Carew, published originally in 2015, in GreenPrints Issue #102. Illustrated by Tim Foley
Let’s hear it! What is your most hilarious story about dealing with pests in the garden? I’d love to read it in the comments.