I’m beginning to wonder if my war against aphids isn’t analogous to the war on drugs, or terror: not a known, finite enemy, but a concept, which casts a wide net with sticky edges. I’ve coated the lime tree in soapy water, scraped larvae from pepper leaves with my bare fingers, and nearly murdered my kale with a sulfuric spray from an organic gardening supplier that, in retrospect, was almost certainly a front for a head shop. I’ve enlisted nature’s mercenaries: black ants helped out in the tomato patch and once on the lime tree, and I’m convinced my eggplant only survived because of the single golden ladybug that spent a month living on its leaves. Yet the aphids keep coming. Do my attacks incite them? Do they lay eggs murmuring to their children of revenge? Can I get my money back from that stoner who sold me the spray that scarred every single one of my sweet peppers? Alas, this is war, and some questions are doomed to remain unanswered.

I’m still getting a crop, though. The first eggplant is ready to harvest, and at least two are on the way. I had sweet peas already; the carrots are looking good and the cucumbers, bless them, are trying hard. I’ve got basil, oregano, and rosemary. The tomatoes have gone nuts: I’ll have two dozen cherry tomatoes at least, and there are three big green heirloom beefsteak tomatoes filling out by the day. My new sweet potatoes vines could guard Sleeping Beauty’s tower. The jalapeno hasn’t put out flowers quite yet, but I’m optimistic. After all the poor kale’s been through, if I get a single leaf I’ll be shocked.

My neighbor’s vegetation is blowing mine out of the water. I am completely put to shame.

Most thrillingly, my lime tree has remembered itself and has two tiny limes swelling into actual fruit. HECK YEAH. Last time, they got to the size of SuperBalls and I, thinking they would grow into actual limes, nearly let them die on the vine. Now, I figure they’re either Key limes or just weak from the Pennsylvania weather, so when they get to SuperBall size, I don’t care how ripe they are, I am eating those suckers. I don’t know how. I’ll deal with that when the times comes. Limes = in my mouth. Somehow.

I’ve also obtained a kumquat seedling from my father, who grew it from a kumquat he ate. NO FAMILY RESEMBLANCE AT ALL, I’M SURE. It looks healthy, but dormant. I’ve got to transplant it and give it a big ol’ dose of TLC. And by TLC, I mean Miracle Gro.

It’s almost August (eep!) so the harvest, friends and neighbors, is upon us. Anyone else get anything out of their gardens? Or are you (like me) unleashing arsenals both holy and unholy just trying to keep everything alive?

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HOUSEPLANT TIME.

Remember the lime tree, the one I worry about every year, that drops its leaves like I hired it for a bachelor party? It grew a ton of leaves over the summer and then dropped a whole lot of them once the cold hit. Weird. It’s almost like trees are cyclic or something. I’ll never get used to it, and I’ll never stop worrying–and four years is about the longest I’ve ever kept citrus alive up here, so its time must be short. Recently I’ve found that misting seems to help stave off leaf loss. Keeps its chlorophyll veins unclogged, or something. Look, I don’t know, I’m a meat-based organism. This plant stuff is a mystery.

Ancient begonia keeps on ancient begonianing.

The strawberry plant died and then, after I had moved its dirt to another pot, miraculously resurrected itself. Still no actual berries. The ivy lives. I got a hardy mum, which is looking spindly but hanging in there. I grew mint and then killed it with neglect. I cannot keep mint around to save my life.

The most dramatic event in Days of Our Houseplants has been the honeysuckle I cut from my previous place, rooted, and grew three successful vines of. It’s got these incredible dark-blue flowers. Right now it’s dropping its leaves, and all the flowers have become white berries which are nurturing seeds. I don’t know whether it’ll come back to life in the spring, but the seeds are very exciting.

OH! And for Christmas I picked up a tiny, adorable live pine tree, which is wonderful and cute and also starting to grow white mold. I will do my best to save its life. But no promises.