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My interest in gardening began at an early age. When I was around twelve, I bought a pack of icebox watermelon seeds from my school for a dime. I bought a small paper bag of fertilizer from the local milling company, and it was a dime.
I dug a circle in the back yard, worked the soil just so and planted the seed. All went very well. I think every seed sprouted.
At twelve, I was over anxious. I could hardly wait to see watermelons. I checked that little patch every day.
The vines grew rapidly. Soon, I had a dense cover of leaves. Ever day after school, the first thing I did was go to my watermelon patch, put my hands to the soil and spread back those leaves. I was looking for something, anything. Well, it wasn't long before I saw blossoms. I was tickled watermelon pink!
I continued to check the vines each day, looking for that first little melon. I was like a kid in a candy store. Well, one day something caught my eye. Oh, no! This won't do. Not at all. I saw a large Black Widow spider, right there in the leaves, right where I had been putting my hands every day.
I backed off, turned and went to get a long handled shovel. I intended to smash the widow. When I returned with the shovel, I couldn't find the spider. I was sure I knew just where she was.
I started poking around with the shovel blade. I "will" find that spider. What I found was spiders. They were everywhere. I don't know if Black Widows colonize, or maybe wait until they're about grown before leaving the nest, but, I had disturbed them.
There must have been fifty or more....right in the middle of the patch...right where I had been putting my hands every day.
Yep, I was a bit shaky. I managed to run to the house where I got a garden rake, a tin can of kerosene and some matches.
I carefully kept my distance as best I could and raked all the vines into a pile. I poured kerosene on the pile and threw a match to it. That pile of vines and the spiders with it, were burned to ashes.
As jolted as I was, I soon forgot all the danger I had been exposed to. Children are that way.
Today, I was reworking a spent Vinca bed, making way for a bed of Viola. I like to lift and sift the soil each year. It gives me a chance to remove any cut worms, wire worms, grubs and any pecans the squirrels have planted.
Wouldn't you know, in the dirt I was crumbling with my bare hands over the screen was a big, juicy Black Widow spider. I almost shook hands with her. The back side of my trowel was her misfortune.
I read recently that the bite of a Black Widow spider can make one seriously ill, but is almost never fatal. I'll let you do the research. I don't know and I don't want to find out the hard way.
One thing's for sure. I've learned my lesson. Tomorrow, Doug will don the gloves. I hope all fellow gardeners will do the same.
When I go out to work in my garden, I wear a pair of old scrubs. Besides, being very comfortable, they have many pockets. I put gloves, shears, rags, my phone or mp3 player in them.
Buy an inexpensive pair of rubber garden clogs for working in the yard and garden. They are great - slip on and off and clean up easily with a hose. Not safe footwear for lawn mowing, of course.
The best clothing to wear while gardening is the kind that feels comfortable while you are reaching, bending, crouching, and sitting.