Give the Engineer a spray and a mask, and there is no telling what he might do. It’s already bad enough that we’ve had recourse to Malathion – not one of the worst sprays around, but proven to be bad for bees. But the round of spraying, three times over three weeks, was strictly to be applied to one guava and one orange tree.
Then, last Saturday, he reappeared after making off with the nasty brew and announced he’d just done the hibiscus in the beds outside the fence.
Seeing the expression on my face he rapidly changed tack: “schwoya basseet, ya Madam” he added, equivalent perhaps to “just a touch.” And, for good measure, he reassured me that he had left the “rihaan” or basil alone. Why? Because, he said, the bees like it!
By organic standards, this is plain wrong. And I felt aggrieved because there have always been mealy bug outbreaks on the hibiscus; I have been able to keep them under control by careful surveillance and by cutting and disposing of affected shoots, doing the job myself in order to make sure the hygiene controls are strict. So why step in and interfere?
In truth, I have shot myself in the foot by a) agreeing to any spraying in the first place and b) providing the Engineer with a mask. As I was evidently going along with the plan, why balk at a sprayer who turns out to be a little trigger-happy?
For the next day I went around muttering “I’ll schwoya basseet you!” under my breath. But then the garden worked its magic, as it does every time, and I became absorbed in the task of clearing out the herbaceous border. Seedlings have popped up all over the place, some as a result of the application of fertilizer, but others the welcome offspring of flowers planted last year. This means there is plenty of transplanting to do. At the same time the work is a useful opportunity to check the health of the soil: it’s looking good to judge from the increase in earthworm numbers.
Over the Christmas season the plan is to clean out the entire border from the front (Jasmine) gate all the way round to the olive tree and fence that divide the pleasure from the kitchen garden. That should keep me busy for a while – and take my mind off the Maniac with the Malathion.