Spring Cleaning, Part I: A Second Look
I only thought I was getting a head start on my spring cleaning list this year. At first glance, my cluster of wild plum trees still appeared to be skeletal. However, with a second look, I saw that, while yet unopened, the blossoms had already formed. I still had time, but barely, to rake all of the dead leaves out from under the tree and prep the trees for their spring debut. After two afternoons of raking and burning leaves, it was time to really get down and dirty.
If you take notice of the country roadside, you will see that wild plum trees frequent the fence lines. Now my personal theory is that birds eat plums. Birds sit on fences. You get the idea. Upon closer inspection you will notice that most of the time only portions of the tree cluster is still producing its sweet meat. Look even closer, and you’ll see the cause of the problem: webbing in the fork of the tree limbs. But it’s not the webbing that’s the problem. It’s what is inside the webbing, or, rather, what was inside the webbing. Hundreds of baby caterpillars. Hungry ones. And what do you suspect that they eat, this mass of hungry baby caterpillars? Blossoms and leaves.
Three springs ago, I went out to check on the trees and from tip to root was a train of caterpillars in every direction. I wish I had taken a picture, because it was really just amazing. So Etsy! I couldn’t really be mad at them. They were just doing what they do. After all, it was MY FAULT for not preventing this problem, for not inspecting my trees sooner. Thankfully, I am surrounded by plum trees up and down the country roads, so my passion was sated elsewhere.
I was also at fault for not knowing that this was a potential problem. If you have fruit trees, then sooner or later, you will have bug problems. (Learn about the tent caterpillars here.) Sometimes maybe just here and there, but eventually your tree will be the product of a swarm. Unless you know how to prevent it. The wise man knows, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” After googling my problem and what to do, I decided to take matters into my own hands. (PETA members, I urge you to turn away!) I mean, instead of purchasing a chemical to kill the caterpillars with, I was just going to kill them myself. After raising babies and having all manner of bodily fluids on you, what’s a little caterpillar gut gonna hurt? So the next spring, I inspected my tree daily, starting early in the year. I would tear the webbing down, smush it with my foot, and squish any remaining caterpillars on the tree with my fingers. They’re so extremely tiny at this point; it was a quick, painless death. The return was a beautiful bounty of wild plums. Already this year, even in February, I already had tent caterpillars hard at work in my trees, preparing for their emergence. Alas, this is not to be, for I have been hard at work, laboring for my love.
Are you picking up what I’m putting down here? There are so many parallels here to shop-ownership.
- It takes a lot of hard work to have a productive shop
- Most shops come from humble beginnings but grow into something beautiful if given time and room to grow.
- There is always something that can cause damage. This could be either something you have done or something that you allowed to happen.
- If you have bad policies, bad customer service, or bad products, a quick hands-on approach is best. Put everyone out of their misery, and take care of the problem immediately.
- Your customer just has to go a little bit down the road to find an equally satisfying product.
- Not knowing might be a good excuse once, but never twice. There is tons of help out there for you. Utilize it.
I hope you have been enlightened with part I of my Spring Cleaning series. Part II: Through the Looking Glass will entail how to look for potential problems. Here is another great Handmadeology read in the mean time: Give It To Me Straight – Truth in Business.
(And if you have never tried cleaning your house in high heels and pearls, well, you are missing out! It really tones those glutes, girls.)