awe damnit spinach

It’s been a long time since I dorked out about my garden on dig. And nothing can bring out my inner dork like a sick vegetable that needs mending. And, this morning, I woke at 5:30, made coffee and crept to my computer to write just as Margot decided to wake…BUT the grandmas and one grandpa are in town so, as I type, two ladies I love in jammies are blowing bubbles and scrambling an egg in the kitchen with my bug.

My spinach looks like poop. Scrawny and miserable. I went in for a closer look and there was this little dude having a blast on the tip of a leaf, oh hello! he was saying as if I’d be happy to see him.

I am pretty certain he is a spinach leaf miner. Ack does that sound nasty or what? I envision the hairy beast with a miniature pickaxe, helmet and head lamp pounding away on my delicate, bright green, vitamin-rich food. Asshole. And I am especially bummed because the spinach is right next to my beets and vegetable leafminers hammer away on beets too. Although I am not skilled enough to identify the exact species so I am *hoping* this is a rare kind of leafminer who only enjoys spinach and then buzzes right off.

This is what my master gardening book has to say about the pest:
Larval leafminers burrow underneath leaf surfaces leaving a visible trail as they eat their way through the leaf. Leafminers can be flies, wasps, moths or sawflies. Leaves damaged by leafminers have a distinct top and bottom leaf surface that can be pulled apart at the tan-colored blotch or serpentine tail. Inside trails or blotches, you will find a larva or a black, sawdusty leafminer droppings.

The biological and mechanical controls available won’t do me any good because I do not have access to ichneumonid wasps nor do I know what hey are and it is too late for row covers (that would have aided in control but needed to be used as soon as seedlings emerge). And as far as chemical, well, I may have missed out but I may have time. Neem oil has shown to inhibit feeding and egglaying….and because the green invaders are instars or larva (I think instar is a stage in larva?) it could be the perfect time to spray. I’d love any other ideas y’all have out there too.

Anyway, the neem needs to be applied now and if it doesn’t work I will be pulling over one hundred spinch plants. Because while my family enjoys spinach, we will perish if we don’t have bloody beets to pull out of the dirt. Perish.

A few other garden tidbits:


Arugula is about toast so I will harvest remaining leaves, pull and plant pepper starts this weekend.


Pea Forest


I don’t water enough and it is pissing me right off. My seedlings are struggling and I need to get on the stick.


Radish volunteers are everywhere in my garden. I have pulled dozens of plants and there are still millions of entrepreneurial roots.


Strawberries almost there. And I covered with bird netting in time this year. Ha! Squirrels! Take that!

I am proud of lots of things I have grown but must admit one particular species takes my breath away.

And, I look forward to the germination and rooting into my heart of another.


In response to requests for a belly shot. 14 weeks.

25 Responses to awe damnit spinach

  1. TRB Holt says:

    I love your garden, it is well tended…..just like your family. I also LOVE being here with you Margot, your mama & papa AND GmaJ!

    xoxo, Mom/Gram

  2. Jen says:

    I see what you mean about the spinach! It is giving me the heebie jeebies, too! But, those strawberries are so cute and furry, they make up for it! I also love that you named it the “pea forest”. That gave me a right giggle!

  3. Cat says:

    My spinach ain’t doing so hot either. I don’t think that I have an infestation though, just needs WATER. You’re looking great!

  4. Hi Nici! You’re looking great!

    I need some gardening advise if you have a second – my lettuces and cabbages are getting attacked by what I think are aphids. (little green bugs that are covering the leaves with white bally stuff) Maybe I’ll email you a picture later if I can get my camera to download again. Any natural ways to get them to go away?

    I’ll email you later with more info

  5. FinnyKnits says:

    You’re looking hot, Dig! Cute bump :)

    I, personally, have found neem oil to be my garden savior. I treat the beds before I plant, but I hear you can apply it after the vegs are in to fend of cooties.

    Everything else that bugs me might get a shot of soapy water or, in the case of evil squash bugs, some up close and personal time with me and my needle nosed pliers. Because I’m psycho like that.

    I will cross my fingers that they buzz off and don’t go near the precious beets!!

  6. Katie says:

    14 weeks already?! Too fast but totally awesome. You look fab!

    Yikes to your spinach…my mom (who’s one hell of a green thumb)uses this remedy for everything pesty in her garden~a bar of dove soap soaked in a jar of pickle juice. The few times I’ve tried it, it worked like a charm.

  7. Melissa says:

    Those photos of Margot in the garden are so precious, as is the bump shot of you 3. Baby boy? Are you gonna find out or be surprised?

    Bummer about the spinach miners. That is so nasty. Too bad I have a black thumb and cannot help.

    I love looking at the arugula. We just got some from our csa but it’s even more beautiful in the ground. xo

  8. Marcy says:

    I had them last year and they came back. Damit. But the chickens solved that by busting out and eating all my beets and swiss chard. I was pain stakingly pulling the effected leaves (feeding them to the chicks) and killing the eggs on the backs of the leaves that had been effected. They are little white eggs, and you can crush them, if they havent bored yet. I was winning the battle, which made the chicken escape and feast even worst. Replanting the beets and going to try to by swiss chard beets tomorrow at the Market???
    See you in while.

  9. Your garden looks great — good luck with salvaging your spinach!

  10. o, what a beautiful belly :) good surprise at the end! take heart, i just plucked 15 or so potatoes(my fav.thing to grow) out of the dirt – some crazy leaf roll virus. ahh. what about buying ladybugs in your garden? maybe you mentioned that. you can buy about 1500 for around $7. not sure what they will do for the leaf miner.

  11. erin says:

    I like the germination and rooting, too! Congrats Nici!

  12. jean says:

    Wah! The spinach, oh, awful, awful.

    Nice tum, there, dear one. Hi, Margot. Say hi to the grannies and grandpa for me.

  13. jean says:

    Oh, yeah, our garden news; R. dug all the post for the fence today and is making a gate, one of those cylindrical wire setups with rocks to the brim. It’s beautimus.

  14. jean says:

    I meant postholes.

  15. pam says:

    I condole you on your spinach.

  16. Kelle says:

    Bwah ha…your spinach almost made me yuke this morning. But then your strawberries looked divine. Girl, your belly is beautiful! Cannot believe that is a 14 week belly!!! HOLY CRAP!! It’s gorgeous!

  17. jen says:

    beautiful baby bump mama! love the shot of margot in the mirror too.
    not sure if i should start the baby bump pictures yet … it seems early … but i love the idea of having the girls in there. and yes … i’m on the number 3 bandwagon. eek. unexpected and much anticipated.
    the spinachy eating bug has got to go. wish i knew a way to get rid of them for you!

  18. Kelly says:

    Oh, I LOOOOOOOOOOVE that belly pic!! Especially that Bug is in there too!! Crazy to think she’ll be a big sister! ADORABLE!!

  19. Marty says:

    I feel lucky-last year’s spinach volunteered and we’ve been enjoying it immensely! Checked tonight and there are two strawberries almost ready to pick. Your peas look better than mine, though.

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