I’m nearly half-way through the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, a month-long writing challenge that requires one themed blog post a day throughout the month of April. I’ve chosen to write about “pests, problems and ridiculous myths in the garden.” We have dug deep beneath the soil’s surface with stories about larvae, grubs and rootworms. We’ve poked above ground in the dirt with stories about cucumber beetles and earwigs. Flying pests are proven blog fodder for this challenge, as I have included stories about fungus gnats and mosquitos. We’ve talked about organic pest control, tree wound care and even vitamins and geraniums. That’s a lot of garden talk in just 12 days.
But what does all this have to do with kids in your garden? Simple. They are pests. They are impatient, noisy, curious creatures with dirty lunulas (you know you want to look it up) and smelly little bodies. Clumsy, selfish, petulant, dirty, runny-nosed pests. Yeah, I went there. I called your kids (and mine) runny-nosed pests. On this, I speak from experience. I know a little something about those adjectives… I’ve successfully raised one child to the insect-equivalent of the adult stage, and I currently have two more in the pupae stage. While all three were larvae, my wife and I included them A LOT in our gardening experiences. It was then, we learned what pests a kid can be.
Kids in the larval stage
As a young boy, my first son would plant seeds in the morning by punching the soil with a Donatello fist punch, and tossing some soil back in the hole and stepping on the hole with a Michaelangelo kick. (Note the date-line references to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). Oh, and he would be beside himself as night fell because the seed hadn’t sprouted yet. His catch-all remedy for anything that wouldn’t grow as fast or strong as he thought it should, was to flood (and by flood I mean of Noah proportions) the seed with water. When it floated up, he would just squish that seed back down and give it some more water. Made perfect sense to him.
Years later (ten, to be exact), my twins each sported their own color of green [thumb]. During my boy’s larval stage (photo at left), he preferred the spontaneous, haphazard approach to interacting with our backyard garden. When it was his turn to pull weeds, he selected one here, one there, leaving dozens in between. And if something, anything caught his eye, off he went, fully committed. If the critter had wings, even better. He would chase it, looking up toward the sky, trampling everything in his path, including my prized melons. On the few occasions he would catch one, he was so proud of himself and fully expected me to be, too. Ugh, yes, beaming with pride.
His twin sister was methodical and quiet in the garden. She preferred seedlings, not seeds. Measuring hole depth and distance between plants (because that was what the package said to do), she would talk nonsense to them in a near whisper; giving them each a name, welcoming them home, introducing them to one another and to our rabbits, and anything else that crossed her busy little mind at that moment. Very high maintenance garden etiquette for such a young, unassuming life force.
Staying true to my other articles on garden pests, it’s time to look at natural controls for this particular garden pest. No, of course I’m not talking about erradication; who would do that? I’m talking about distracting them from your coveted backyard garden while keeping them interested in the hobby. These are just a few ideas of many that would do the trick.
Container gardening: Give your kids some peat pots, or small containers in a separate part of the yard to grow their own flowers or vegetables.
Kids’ garden stepping stone craft: Here’s a great project that your child can do with a little parental supervision. Stepping stones add whimsy and function to the garden and will give little feet a sense of direction. If your little one is like Goliath in the garden, then you know why this is a good project!
Community garden project: The United Way has a program that enables kids to start a community garden, in all four corners of the United States and everywhere in between. There are countless benefits to this, but the best one is (said with tongue-in-cheek)… the little pests stay out of your home garden!
What are your experiences with this particular garden pest? Let us all know in the comments section below.
editor’s note: photo credit, C. Douros
This article is the eleventh in a series of 26 consecutive articles, as part of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge for the whole month of April. Tomorrow, I’ll post an article with a title that begins with the letter “L”… So goes the rest of the alphabet, through the end of the month.
In closing, I have a little challenge for you. Because the letters “Q” and “Z” pose a challenge of their own, send me a title idea beginning with those letters. If I choose to write your title, I’ll send you a small prize to show my appreciation. Use the comments box below, or email your title to firstname.lastname@example.org