There’s A Fungus Amongus

photo(5)There is a rot out there in this country. It has set in deeply and there appears little that those thoughtful people among us can do about it. This rot specifically has attacked the cucumbers. A wilting disease perhaps spread by the cucumber bug, perhaps some other wee beasty or other has caused wonderful plants to just droop in place dropping all developing fruit in place. I read on Uncle Googles that this is a condition that once infected dooms the plant and robs me of my Pims Cups for the summer.
The zucchini fought on. That is, we fought on, we used all manner of soap treatment, we squished bug eggs, the dreaded squash bugs – bastards! I have learned to watch, to see them scuttle asunder this or that leaf and still manage to ninja their asses… Uh…. do bugs have asses? Anyway, you can see my path by the trail of dead bugs. Crushed, squashed (ha ha, pun intended), drowned, soaped (is that a verb? Well, it is now), bombed, droned (that is a verb now I have been told by high authority), zotted, scotted, and frape.
Cured creatures of life, I love these insects not great and small, and they have come in droves in order to take what belongs to us, to me, my summer salad lost to the slugs, the turnips be-spoiled by crawlies, the tomatoes blacked by fungus, the wilt and tilt of this and that infection, beetles Japanese and otherwise nibbling and fucking on my vines, crickets and hopping manifestations of Gregor Samsa here to take revenge on our clotted society by nibbling our crisps and succulent vegetables. We have often stayed up at night, in secret underground locations, by candlelight, plotting, planning, a band of revolutionaries, “lets burn it all down,” the more Bolshevik amongst us say of the garden, let the new growth arise out of the ashes! We drink healthy fingers of gin and vodka and others push back, the Menshiviks of gardening have other ideas, let us work with the beneficial insects amongst us, the secret spiders, the wasps laying eggs on the backs of gypsy moth caterpillars, let us slowly co-opt Mother Nature, work with her and in that way gain our bounty, our slice of Providence. “To Hell with your Providence,” the hot headed cunning intellectual student explains and breaks a shot glass on the wall of the bunker.
The candle flutters. The shadows play tricks. All listen in shock. “We must use science, we must use spray and not pray. Blast the bugs back to whatever planet they came from whatever corner of the universe sent them here.” The gathered are silent. One speaks… “Well, we planted Tomotios. Tomotios from Mexico up here in the cold and dark northern lands and yet… some bug… not just some bug, but the Tomotio bug found us. Found our garden deep here in the mountains and the bug is slug-like and mooshie hard to confound and gross to squish… they found us….”
All are silent. Fire. The cleansing flame. Spider armies and wasp allies. Spray and chemicals. Petro chemicals saving us from the bugs, the viruses, the mildew, the black spoil marks, the fungus and rot, all vanquished by those same sweet fluids that drive our transportation, our electrical grid, give us soda bottles to float in the river and all manner of flotsam and jetsom as well as numerous carnival prizes.
Love, we all agree, is the colour of plastic.
photo(4)I use a knife to harvest that has been sharpened so many times that it is but a thin sliver of metal on a huge plastic handle. We leave this tool in the garden. The other day I saw two Japanese beatles mating. Flicking my knife, I interrupted their coitus with a certain slice of death. I wondered as I did this, to what effect my hand-killing would be effective were I, that is were we, to depend on this garden for more than supplemental organic produce? What if we needed this food to survive? I crushed another spawn of squash bug eggs or whatever those clusters are called, and continued to do what we call garden, which is nothing more than an endless rhythm of killing and harvest, murder and take, extinguish and select. What is a garden but a carnal house of chlorophyll and insects? Weeds, grasses, unwanted plants ripped up day after day. Unproductive plants, our babies, things that I pushed into the ground and wished the best, sung to, prayed over, wept for, but still, when rotten and wilting, when festering and struggling, I cut them off the ground, rob them of life and toss their corpse onto the compose (that Holocaust of discarded flora), and say, “well, for the best, they were only going to drain the soil of nutrients for next year.
Mother Nature, her cruel paps, suckle at them at your own risk, for she is indeed an Ian Rand. A cruel Wolfmother who feeds but those children who cut their brother’s and sister’s throats to survive. I crush another bug. I want my Pims Cup you fucking insect. I want my three bean salad you cocksucking crustration. You bastard horn worm, these are my tomatoes, and I will slice them, dice them, juice them, coat them in mayonnaise as I like since I planted them with my own two hands… after I bought them from Dan’s Nursery and Discount Pony Rides…. and drove them home with my really inefficient car…. and watered them with a hose…. connected to an electric pump… sucking water from like… I dono 100 or more feet underground after the well was re-drilled…. since…. the water table dropped.
So, organic garden. Yeah, I guess I am talking to you organic garden. We have a problem. We seem to be a place of death and murder, and really, considering the wire fence, the plastic deer fence, the boards for the raised bed section, the wood chips we had delivered, the plastic owl thingy we move about, that my place is about 25 minutes away by car from this garden and that I work in a city about 90 miles away so that I drive or take a bus or take a train in order to get to this organic garden… How organic are you?
Should we listen to the scientist intellectual who says, well, sir, I mean, if you want to have a garden on weekends and whenever, and you come from… what is it, over an hundred miles away, and that petrol powers all this and the canning process, and the refrigeration process, and your cooking process, shouldn’t you use ortho(tm), shouldn’t you spray Roundup(tm) and DDT and sundry other chemicals? I mean, we are all here because of petro chemicals, I mean if oil were to dry up we would not have pesticides… or fertilizer…. or equipment to harvest and plant on a massive scale. I mean, think if we use these tools we could increase production, you could get yourself and many friends well fuckedidily spin on Pims Cups with ample cucumbers… Or do we listen to the Bolsiviks. Burn the fields. Does not matter that burning is pollution, that slash and burn is killing the rain forest, the atmosphere, live on earth. Burn baby burn, the only way to kills the bugies and return the nutrients to the soil.
Or… the others. Make treaties with the spiders and build friend networks with ladybugs.
I placed some organic slug killer down after trying beer. Malt drinks, what we kids call “40s” work best, but these seem to work too, and they are said to be “for organic gardens” which must be true since when did packaging lie?
A friend of mine said she once killed two acres of potatoe bugs by hand on an organic farm. Did I just say “potatoe?” Why isn’t it buges? Anyway… this took days. By hand. Squashing between rocks. Splat, splat, splish. I remember the pleasure my sister and I got of capturing horse flies off of our pony and spattering their blood all over between two small boards we kept for this maneuver. That is, our pony’s blood. Considering what was in their belly. What if, every day, all day, it was a war, a hand-to-hand combat of us and the bugs, the plants, the rot and ruin, the spores and viruseses and not to mention the deer, the stoats, the skunks, the racoons, the moles, the voles, the mice, the rats, the squirrels, the birds of every feather and flock, the rodents and nibblers the buglers, and hungry masses wandering up to our hidden glen looking for brains (if a zombie invasion) or any sustenance no matter what or at what cost. There is an old Irish adage passed down that “hunger is a good sauce.” My great grand mother was born and grew up in a cottage with mud walls and grasses of some kind as a roof so primitive that when I visited the lands of a distant relation I was shown Great Grandma D-‘s house and it was no more than a bramble clutching to the few stones still clinging together now that the binding mud had flowed back to the lands and every stitch of all that life inside that hovel has been scattered to dust, dust being what we humans euphemism as a more noble form than mere compost. So I am but two lives away from a mud hut. In the time I have been alive, I have been here for more than one famine. What was it, two millions in North Korea? One? A few scant hundred thousand? My great grandmother was born in 1883 in a county that had the worst cases of famine deaths, the lands reeking I was told quite early in my life of corpses and rotten potatoes (which for you kids of plenty a rotten potato smells mighty bad). I am not sure about her parents, how many generations of Irish there were between her and the Great Famine since the Irish in those days married young and died young and for all I know she was born of a mother of 13 since in those days Irish breed like rabbits and died like dogs or to quote an old blasphemy of the time, were born in pain, lived in fear, and died alone. And I look at a squash bug. And this is my foe, but because I refuse to shop at isle 7. Because I can do so on what we call weekends. Because on top of every other comfort of Modern Life, I want to brag to some sons of bitchs, some competitive Yuppie crooning cocksuckers, that I “grow my own” that I “have a garden and makemyownjamandtabletofarmandharvestintundwiththelanduseeverypartofthebisonjustlikethenativeamericans….
I love my garden I keep with my friends and the challenge of bribing some food to my and my friend’s and my family’s table. I do brag, but just a little. I know that I will learn more, and I want to learn more, but I respect that if faced with a potato bug, if pests and rodents, fungus and blight, drought and floods caused all on the vine to wither and die, all food to vanish as in the Great Hunger, a privatization my ancestors faced with some success since I am here, but were pests or petro-fertilizer fail, were the small slender knife turned away from our crops and to those who harvest as famine turns her face to all…
I would be the first to die.

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