Thursday, April 15, 2010

I'll plant tomatoes, but I refuse to war with ants.

It all started out so pleasant. I was sitting on our back porch, potting the flower and herb seedlings I've grown. The cool dirt, the smell of spring, and the sight of bright green baby plants were all relaxing and invigorating at the same time. One by one, the row of potted balsam rose plants grew, and I looked proudly at the line.

Dad asked me to re-pot some of the tomato plants when I'd finished with my flowers and sweet basil. I was happy to help, hopeful that we will soon find good homes for each of the tall Italian trees. With over 2 thousand plants at our home, we are eager to get rid of some, much as we like them.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term "re-pot," it means to take plants growing in small containers out of their current containers and put them in bigger ones, so their roots have more space to grow.

I finished my flowers soon after that, and I moved across the porch to where the Italian Tree tray sat waiting for me. I pulled the container of potting soil after me, and settled down in a camp chair to do my work. The tray of plants sat in a plastic holder, and I removed the tray to where I could reach it easier. I put each finished plant in the empty plastic holder. I had potted three plants when it happened.

I noticed that several tiny ants were crawling over my box of potting soil. They seemed to be coming from the tomatoes. I wondered why they where there, but didn't give it further thought until I set my third tomato plant down in the tray.

The tray was moving. I looked closer and saw that it wasn't the black tray that was moving; it was the surface of the tray that was moving.



I saw that almost all of them were carrying eggs, and I immediately knew an ant colony had been disturbed. A moment later I realized that they had built their home between the tomato tray and the plastic holder.

"Daaaaaddy!" I shrieked, but he was out of hearing. I'm not afraid of an ant, but I do have a problem with 6 thousand ants.

I shivered, moved the three pots out of the tray, and stood up to shake the ants out of the tray, hitting it against the deck railing. Ants went flying.

Whoops. I backed into one of my pots. Dirt spilled onto the porch boards, and the proud tomato plant flopped sideways. I tossed the tray aside, and moved to pick up the pot. Whoops. There went my other two plants. More dirt spilled on the porch floor.

I was standing where the tray had been sitting. I looked down, and couldn't help myself; I began to stomp madly everywhere. They were so tiny....I didn't know if I was actually squishing them or not.

I guess not; they crawled up my feet. I was only wearing flip flops, and I could feel their tiny legs on me. I slapped at the tiny creatures madly, but as fast as I got rid of them, more climbed on.

I must have been a sight; stomping, slapping, dancing, and stopping every now and then for a squeal of disgust.

When the torrent finally slowed to a trickle, I took a deep breath, double-check my seat for critters, and sat down to do some more potting. I reached for the tray of plants and picked up a pot. I squeezed the bottom of one of the cells, to loosen the plant inside.

A handful of eggs and ants fell into my palm.

I shrieked, brushed them off in a hurry, and ran inside the house. I love tomato plants, but don't ask me to fight World War III with ants.


Sarah said...

Eeeek! How horrible - I don't do well with ants and other swarming insects either! I would have gotten out of there so fast. ;)

SavedGirl said...

Dear Amber,

Shiver! That does not sound like fun at all. I find it amazing that all you did was an occasional squeal of disgust. I would have been screaming my head off the whole time. I am not exactly a brave person when it comes to bugs.
I hope that you have a little easier time the next time you try re-potting.


Amanda said...

I'm just glad they weren't fire ants! When a whole colony of THOSE gets disturbed....... well, we won't go into detail, but the victim can come out looking like he has chicken pox, and feeling like the Egyptians. You know, with boils all over! I can sympathize with you, though; I wouldn't really like to hav them crawling all over ME, either!!