Project Green Thumbs Season III: Garden pests and problems

When tilling soil in May, all I could think about was the bounty of produce that would await me in the summer months. Ripe red tomatoes. Crispy bell peppers. Juicy sweet cucumbers. I conceived of the garden as a place of growth, nurturing and serenity, not only for the little plants but for the gardener who typically spends daylight hours chained to a computer. I never dreamed (okay, I forgot from last year) that my beautiful oasis of green would soon turn into a battlefield… Woman v. Worms, winner take all.

Lest you think I’m being dramatic, cast your eyes upon these images of destruction:
Slug-zapped basil. (Happy to report it’s perked up since this photo in early June)
Slug damage = snail bait. Okay so I’m just mostly organic.
Holy lettuce. Bitter tears.
I shouldn’t be able to see THROUGH beet leaves, dammit. 
Robbery in progress!
I finally pulled these sad lettuces out.

The problem is, I don’t know how to prevent damage from or prevail over these damn caterpillars. I used snail bait which didn’t address the issue. I planted supposedly-helpful marigolds to ward away problem bugs. I pick them off. I even tried spraying slightly soapy water to no avail. Finally, I ripped out the pathetic plants to drive the bugs away. Ugh. What to doooooo? (This is the part where seasoned gardeners can send in advice in spades, please and thank you!)

Of course, things aren’t all bad in the garden patch.

There are lots of little green tomatoes.


And vibrant flowers.


And spindly spring onions.


And good luck praying mantises!


And streets of beets! (Confession: Despite the fact that they taste like dirt, I *might* be starting to like beets. At least those grown in my garden and roasted in my oven. Who. Knew.)


And respectable-sized rads. (Some of these actually look like rads from the grocery store as opposed to the pea-sized versions I normally grow!)


And more pretty petals.


And veggie blossoms.


An itttty bitttty cucs.
And two remaining romaines.

Round one to the worms but I’m still holding out hope for a bountiful harvest. On the bright side, the pulled-out lettuces gave me room to plant more beets! (On the list of things I thought I’d never say!)

What are your gardening battles this year?


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