What Happened to Hermione’s Garden?

September 20, 2013

Posted By: Bozemama

Seriously. This is what has become of our broccoli.

Hermione has always wanted a garden. For years, I smiled at my daughter and nodded sympathetically, as I searched my mind for yet another lame excuse to put off gardening. Over the years, these excuses have included things like lack of time (new baby brother); lack of resources (tight budget); lack of space (living in a rental); lack of actual sanity (parenting single). It’s pathetic and I am a terrible mother because I no like gardening. Well, perhaps I should re-phrase that. Let’s go with: Bozemama vewy afwaid of gardening. Why?

Mainly because I am an unwitting killer of plants, but also – to be perfectly honest – because I’m not really all that interested. It’s like this: Let’s pretend that I have a long and lovely chunk of (extremely rare) uninterrupted free time in front of me. How would I like to spend that time: Reading; sleeping; eating; catching up with friends; watching Michael Fassbender movies . . . OR : toiling in the hot sun with beads of sweat running down my butt crack, bugs in my ears, dirt under my nails, weeding . Because, let’s be clear, that’s what gardening really is: Weeding. I mean, please, correct me if I’m wrong – but that’s how I see it.

Anyway, 13-year-old Hermione sees it differently. And, during our three years in Bozeman, she has observed countless women who keep their hands in the soil, make Pesto from the bounty of their own garden and cheese from the milk of their goats and who slaughter chickens without breaking a sweat. These women are freaking amazing and she wants to be just like them some day. I couldn’t be prouder. Just because I’m a lazy pantywaist, doesn’t mean my daughter is. No, no, no: Hermione is her own badass young lady with serious plans to change the world by feeding it one organic beet at a time. Yes, you go, girl!

So, after we bought our new home and finally found ourselves with a little patch of yard, we decided that Hermione should plant a raised bed in the backyard, like some of our neighbors have. This was really big; I mean even Charlie got caught up in the excitement, especially when I agreed to buy him his very own mattock (you know, like the dwarves use in The Lord of the Rings ) to destroy the freshly-laid sod.

Our friends, Todd and Melissa, at MT Gardens hooked us up with a lovely, easy-to-assemble kit with hoops and a cover. We bought some fertile-looking Black Gold organic soil to mix with more organic stuff and peat moss and, oh yeah, manure. (It’s fun to buy manure.) Because we were already in July, our selection of vegetable choices was limited, but we felt good about getting broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi and various kinds of peppers. (In hindsight, I think I understand why those particular vegetables who are members of that particular cabbage family were the only ones left . . . more on this later.) We were finally gardeners – high on horticulture and giddy with the prospect of harvesting our own food!

Teeny tiny broccoli in happier, flea beetle-free days. 

Things went along just beautifully for the first few weeks. Hermione tended her garden morning and night, watering and putting her “babies” to bed by covering them. And then: The flea beetles invaded – and fast. Scientifically known as Phyllotreta albionica in the Coleoptera order of the Chrysomelidae family (see how much you can learn on the Google) these little bastards have chewed their way through all of Hermione’s beloved veggies. And the worst part? They are nowhere to be seen on any of our neighbors' lush and abundant vegetation. Nowhere I tell you. Why us? After asking around some, we’ve learned that these guys are particularly drawn to – you guessed it – the cabbage family. Yup. Pretty much everything we planted. Who knew? Well, clearly, we didn't.

Although she does admit to an irrational urge to rip the plants out and shred them violently to bits, Hermione is taking this SNAFU as a learning experience and looking forward to next year, when she will do what all gardeners do -- try again. And maybe with beets and zucchini this time (if one more person brags to me about the size of their zucchini . . . ) I, on the other hand, am kinda pissed. I want to annihilate those beetles -- cause them pain!! It's hard to see your child's hopes and dreams go down in a pile of weird looking foliage, you know? And so I might like some answers or, at the very least, some gardening wisdom and guidance. This, my dear readers, is where you come in. Won't you please take pity on a Bozemama and tell us how to fend off those flea beetles in the future? Hermione thanks you.



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