Thursday, June 27, 2019

The Garden, The Bugs, and The Grouch Called Mama Pea

I have a few pictures of the garden taken on July 1st from various years back.  Although not quite July 1st yet, the pictures are definitely positive proof our growing season is very slow this year.  Who knew sun and warmth was required for the growth of plants?

The buckwheat we sowed in the field garden and two other smaller plots as a green manure crop was apparently too old and did not germinate.  At all.  Anywhere.  Duh, why didn't I think to test the seeds for germination?  We're going to replant barley, some seeds of which I have undergoing testing as we speak.

I did harvest the first of our radishes earlier this week.  The first two I sampled after bringing them inside for cleaning were hot, hot, hot.  I assumed they would all be that way because they grew so slowly.  Funny thing, after I had stored them in water in the refrigerator and then served at a meal later in the day, not one had that same unpleasant flavor.  Did the chilling cause the biting "hotness" to disappear?

Lettuces are still too small to harvest, but I do have some baby spinach leaves I can now use for salads.  And baby Swiss chard is nearly big enough, too.  Hooray for the first crunchy greens of the year.

Much was accomplished in the garden yesterday but not without me unwillingly donating blood to the still present, and abundant, black flies.

I started by donning a long sleeve shirt, head net, gloves and bug repellent but they found the plackets of my shirt sleeves and dove in for the kill bare skin.

Black flies draw blood to the surface when they bite and I had traces of it coming through my shirt.  Somehow several also got under the head net and I got a bite on my hairline in front, outer corner of my right eye, cheek and crook of my ear right where the bow of my (close work) glasses hits.

I came inside and took some Apis and slathered on calamine lotion both of which sometimes help with the prolonged swelling and itching I get.  Changed my outfit to the total bug shirt which I tied tightly around my hips and wrists.  This outfit resulted in only two of the little black devils finding their way to my skin.

I realize people who don't attract biting insects like I do can't relate to the agony it causes me.  That's my excuse for the terrible grouch I was for most of the day yesterday.  Good thing not many souls were exposed to the spread of my very bad vibrations. 

Why don't I just stay inside until the bugs disappear?  I told Papa Pea yesterday that if the bugs were this bad every year, I would seriously contemplate not gardening.  (Whoa, did I actually say that?!)  As it is, those of you who do garden know you either take advantage of any time you have to keep up with thinning, replanting, transplanting, harvesting and weeding in a timely manner or your gardening efforts will be for naught in short order.

On the upside, the less than pleasant time spent outside these days is balanced (well, almost) by the progress made and the wonderful warm shower, clean clothes and inside bug-less atmosphere when I come in for the day.

And sometime soon, the life span (and reproduction cycle) of the black flies will be over.  Please tell me it will happen.  And make it happen soon, please. 

P.S.  For those of you lucky enough to be unfamiliar with black flies, here's a picture for you.

This morning I ran (literally) out to the garden to crack open the cold frames (without protective clothing on -- dummy) and was attacked by the biting black devils.  When I came back in, this one was caught in my hair.  He did not live to bite another day.


wisps of words said...

I understand about being a flying insect magnet. Same here. -sigh- But of course, I don't garden. Nor do we have black flies. Not even many mosquitoes this year, so far. But we do have a few fireflies.

How delightful is that? Nix on the nasty bugs. Yes, on the lovely ones.

So far!!!!!!!!!!!!

Does any area web site, concerning agriculture, tell you when the black flies will "peter out"? Maybe????

Meanwhile, Courage!!!!

Michelle said...

I thought radishes got hot when the weather did; so surprised yours were hot when your season has been cool and wet!i Will have to remember that "refrigerate in water" trick....

How do the black flies not find their way inside your home? (I know; slap me for that thought!) They sound TERRIBLE.

Where are the garden comparison photos???

Kristina said...

We have small tiny gnat type bugs that won't stay off of us. Even my bug spray doesn't work for them. The farmers are out so it stirs them up, so hopefully the bugs will be gone soon.

Elizabeth said...

My husband is horribly allergic to black fly bites. Years ago (this is when we found out he was allergic) we were at the lake for the day. He got two bites on his forehead. Within a half hour the whole top of his face swelled up to the point where his eyes were shutting. We jumped in the car and I drove him to the nearest hospital.
He looked like an alien from a Star Wars movie. Thankfully no breathing problems, just horrible swelling. He was out of work that whole week because the swelling took days to subside. Needless to say he is extremely careful of what's flying around when he is out and about!

Susan said...

As a fellow bug magnet, I feel your pain. Literally. They are so bad this year that I invested in a bug shirt. With bug mittens (which are totally and completely useless, I may add, if you want to use your hands for anything but swatting). Black flies, gnats, deer flies, you name it - and let's not forget ticks and mosquitoes~! I am literally polka-dotted, if I don't take precautions. It does make one rethink their lifestyle, this time of year. But, heck. I don't think I could live any other way, so stand back, while I spray myself from head to toe.

P.S. My sister said that a friend - another fellow bug magnet - started drinking cups of cinnamon/clove tea every night and has noticed that the ticks, anyway, avoid him. I'm staring this weekend and will report in. xo

Nancy @ Little Homestead In Boise said...

Yoxza! No fun bleeding, and how annoying. It's low 80s here, nice. Hope it warms up soon there!

Lynne said...

I understand about bugs being attracted to you. I seem to have the same problems. It's horrible to go outside at times. Bees are a great one for me and misquitoes, and Black flies. I don't think black flies care who they bite. It surely make being outside miserable. Glad you did get to do a bit of the garden. I'm thankful for not being allergic yet. take care!!

Mama Pea said...

wisps of words - I think whether black flies or nosee'ums or mosquitoes are numerous or not so much depends entirely on the weather during their life cycles. Seems to me in years past most of them appear when warm weather arrives. Not so this year! :o(

Michelle - You're right in that I've heard, too, that radishes get too hot when they grow in hot weather. Guess we'll add when they grow slower than they like to that also!

For some (wonderful!) reason, the black flies do not like to be in closed in spaces like the house. Praise be! They're not like mosquitoes that will come inside through any possible nook or cranny.

Didn't post the garden comparison photos because I've gotten the idea people are tired of the same old shots of the garden taken by me hanging out of Papa Pea's upstairs office window!

Kristina - I hope your bugs and our bugs are really, really gone soon!

Elizabeth - Oh, dear! Your husband sounds like his reaction is like my dad's used to be. I've always thought I inherited my allergic reaction to biting insects from him, but I admit his was worse than mine. Once when he and my mom were here visiting from Illinois, he stepped into a ground hornet's nest. The stings on his face made him look grotesque. But like your husband, he didn't ever go into anaphylactic shock. Thankfully!

Susan - Oh, I like the idea of the cinnamon/clove tea to deter the ticks! I am so afraid of them. And you know just how debilitating a tick bite can be. I give you credit for continuing to fight the good fight after what you've had to deal with.

Nancy - You are in real summer time weather! Enjoy!

Lynne - Yep, it doesn't seem fair that just when the nice weather arrives and you want to be outside for gardening or recreation, the biting insects make it miserable. Why do we have them anyway? Bees and such for pollination I can understand, but the others that simply want to drain us of our blood? Yuck.

J.L. Murphey said...

Bugs love me too. The real shame is that I've been bit by so many, now I have allergic type reactions from them. A simple mosquito or gnat bite will swell quarter size in an hour. The next day, the area is the size of my hand and gets bigger. It gradually dissipates after a few days. I carry an epipen for bee and wasp sting. Horse, deer, yellow flies do the same thing to me, but I love being outside.

I use unscented soaps, deodorant,and even laundry soap. I guess I'm too sweet. LOL

Rain said...

Eeegad, I'd be grouchy too, I hate black flies, though they seem to be nearly all gone now, we have the deer flies and mosquitoes gracing our world for another few months, ick. I have so many bites. The deer flies seem to love the hats too for some reason, I hate those kamikaze insects! Interesting about the radishes!

Mama Pea said...

J.L. Murphey - You have my sympathies and understanding. I guess I almost feel better knowing so many other people are badly affected by insect bites. The worst for me are bee stings. Have never come close to anaphylactic shock but I do get kinda sick feeling for a few days along with the huge swellings. Stay safe out there!

Rain - If someone can figure out a foolproof way of keeping those biting devils away from us sweet people (!), our lives would be oh-so-much more comfortable! ;o)

Goatldi said...

Wonder if your black flies are what we call biting flies in California?
They are blood suckers and appear in the Spring. Vermin!!

Mama Pea said...

Goatldi - That could well be. I think some people call them deer flies, also, and whether they are all of the same variety or exact same . . . ? All I know is that this year I'm having a hard time tolerating them.

Sheila V Zangrilli said...

Would a bee suit help

Mama Pea said...

Sheila V Zangrilli - A bug shirt is much like a bee suit . . . which my husband has but I would swim in it! The bug shirt comes down to my mid-hip area (and has a way of pulling it tight as well as long sleeves with tight fitting cuffs) and I always wear long pants in the garden for protection for my knees. The bug shirt has a built-in hood with see-through netting over the face so it affords pretty good protection, although is not real easy to see through if planting small seeds. The trouble is that it's HOT when you exert at all and makes one quite uncomfortable. The bee suit does much the same when Papa Pea wears it while working with the bees. But thanks very much for the thought and comment! I just want all the biting insects (the mosquitoes and no-see'ums have now arrived) to GO AWAY! ;o)

Sam I Am...... said...

I've not experienced those flies but they sound poor thing! Thank goodness they're not out there all summer long! It's very hot here but not so humid yet. But I need to start watering some things twice a day. I hope your bites heal and that the blasted bugs die now! Take care!

Sheila said...

My kids would get really bad swelling around mosquito bites. I used eucalyptus infused castille soap to bath them in. Worked like a charm, no more bites.

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