Every time I find what I think is the absolutely biggest grub, I turn over a spadeful of soil and find an even bigger one. It's always shocking to find a grub, large or small. They look like mummy fingers complete with a blood red fingernail at the tip or the curled finger of Death himself. Neither of which I want my vegetable roots clinging to.
There are products that claim to eradicate grubs but so far I have not gone down that path. I've tried my best to avoid applying any sort of toxic chemical to my garden beds. I've used BT for leaf chewing caterpillars, Nolo Bait for the ever hungry grasshoppers and insecticidal soap for insects that I suspect may have plans for violence against greenery. I have a huge population of decollate snails and that's been about the extent of my pest control. I lose my fair share of plants, but still, I garden on.
Early last week, Michael told me that his co-worker had offered to pick up a truckload of soil for us from Natural Gardener. It was like an early birthday present. I was giddy about it all week and then Friday came and I could feel a rawness starting in my throat. By the time I came home from work I felt like I'd been kicked in the chest, every inhale pinched and my throat was sore. Saturday was dedicated to recovery so I'd be ready for the excursion out to the soil yard. It was a little strange, even for me. I don't remember wanting anything as bad as I wanted that soil in a very long time.
I sabotaged this desire by making myself feel less. For whatever freak reason, the thought that there are women out there that want manicures, jewelry, clothing, shoes came to mind. Why on earth is it that Michael would feed my desire for dirt? Does he not know these other women exist? Does he really prefer dirt under the fingernails rather than Cherry Red glazed nails? I have to trust that he knows there are options. We are what we are and I love him for wanting what we have. But still, I do this, I let these thoughts seep in only to have to stanch the flow.
When Sunday came and we arrived at the nursery all of this doubt fell away. It was busy with customers. They walked slowly past herbs, past flowers and vegetables, picking up pots, smelling leaves. There are a lot of us. Gardeners. Some manicured, some not, but mostly not. These are my people. I can talk grubs to these people and they will understand my distress, they will offer support, or hope or both.
I made my way to the pest control section and asked an employee about BT. I could see she was no stranger to the stuff. She could have pointed it out in her sleep. She seemed to know a lot about garden pests. It must have been her forte. She knew just what to apply and when. I imagined her studying in the evenings with flashcards, one after the other illustrated with a different menacing looking bug.
Grubs? They were nothing to her. She told me that the behemoth grubs that I've been finding are a good sign, they are an indication of healthy soil. She was so reassuring and delivered the news with an unabashed confidence and smiling all the while that I think I may have blushed a little. All I could hear was, "It just means you have very good soil. Healthy soil!" Her claim pinged and ponged in my brain. She was The Good Witch and her words echoed over and over, "Very healthy soil. You have very healthy soil." It was like going to the dentist and having him proclaim that you have perfect teeth, top and bottom (not that that's ever happened to me but I can imagine the heady feeling that would follow such a declaration).
The rest of the day was even dreamier. We were third in line for the front-loader to fill the truck. The operator was a master. He'd scoop up a massive bucket of soil, dump it in the truck bed, gracefully wheel around to pick up another load, dump and tamp the load down like he was patting a loaf of bread dough. When it was our turn he switched out his scoop for an even larger one. We were all impressed by how quickly he changed buckets out and a little nervous whether all the soil would fit. "This is better than the carwash!" I squealed. "It's like the opposite of the carwash" Michael answered. One scoop. Whirl around. Two scoops and pat, pat, pat. Masterful. The man could have served tea to the Queen with that thing.
It's nearly a week later. The beds are filled, seeds are planted. I've run out of adrenalin. My energy is gone. I am the perfect host for a bug of some kind and my exhausted little body has been found. Whatever I was warding off over the weekend hunted me down and kicked my garden loving ass. It's okay. It was totally worth it.