5 Worst Gardening Disasters & How to Avoid Them

F$%*ing squirrels!
I love springtime gardening. So much hope. So much promise. I start planning and planting, hardly giving any thought as to what could go wrong. It's like I get amnesia every year and forget about all the disasters of the year before. Lalala! It's all going to be so pretty, and we're going to eat perfect heirloom tomatoes all summer. I picture myself clipping off a ripe, purple Cherokee tomato from the vine, and then I get a flashback: All the tomatoes I found last year with horrible squirrel bites in them. Argh!

The list of possible garden disasters is endless, but just for my sanity, I'm going to revisit the ones that haunted me last summer. Here's what went wrong and the hard lessons I SHOULD be applying this time around.


1. Aphids infestation: I love nasturtium, and so do aphids. Every year, usually once they've bloomed and we have our first really hot day, I find clumps of those tiny monsters sucking the life out of my plants. Since I like to put the blossoms in salads, I'm not going to blast them with toxic chemicals. So I've been mixing up a solution of peppermint Castile soap and water and rinsing them off with that. I have to go easy, though, because I almost killed a plant with too much of the stuff. But this year I'll also take precautions and try to give them a little TLC on hot days (water and some shade), knowing that harsh conditions can make plants more vulnerable to pests. I may try burying banana peels around the plants, too.

2. Goddamn squirrels: Pardon my French, but I really hate those little f$%*ers. Last year I put up plastic tomato cages and they CHEWED RIGHT THROUGH. This year it's chicken wire. Regular tomato cages aren't going to cut it because those squirrels can reach right through them. I may also try sprinkling a little fox urine.

3. Tomato blight: I see black spots on my tomatoes and the stems and I know it's over. I've got the dreaded mold, tomato blight. There's no cure. You have to dig out the whole plant, including the surrounding dirt. Sadness. I'll try to avoid it this year by making sure my soil doesn't get too soggy.

4. Fried plants: My garden is on my roof, which means loads of sun. Most of my plants love this -- but it can be excessive. Even when I've watered carefully, I've had plants just shrivel from the sun. This year I'm getting some translucent tarps to put over my plants on especially hot days.

5. Vacation drought: Every August I go away for a week or two thinking, Should I hire someone to water my plants? Nahhh. Most of my planters have water-saving wells. But they're not quite enough, and I come back to plantcalypse. Note to self: YES you DO need to get someone to water for you while you're on vacation.

What have been your worst gardening disasters?


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