“Oh Daddy!” cried Mab, running in the house from her garden one day. “A lot of my bean leaves have holes in them. Has Hal been shooting his pop gun at them?”
“No,” said Hal. “I didn’t! I wouldn’t shoot your beans, Mab.”
“Well, something did!” cried Mab. “Will my beans be spoiled, Daddy?”
“I don’t know. I hope not. We’ll take a look.”
As Mab had said many of the leaves did have holes in them. Daddy Blake looked carefully and found some little bugs on the undersides of the bean plants.
“Ha!” he cried. “Here is the enemy!”
“It sounds like war to hear you say enemy,” spoke Hal.
“Well, if you have a garden you have to make war on the weeds, bugs and beetles,” said Mr. Blake. “A bean-leaf beetle is eating your plants, Mab.”
“Can’t we make him stop, Daddy?”
“Yes, we’ll spray some poison on the leaves, so that when the beetles eat them the poison will kill them,” said Mr. Blake.
“But if you poison the beans won’t they poison us when we eat them?” Hal wanted to know.
“The rain will wash off all the poison the beetles do not eat,” answered his father. “Besides there are no beans on Mab’s plants yet. By the time the bean pods come I hope we shall have driven the beetles away.”
Mr. Blake mixed some poison called arsenic in a can of water and sprinkled it on Mab’s bean plants. In a few days the beetles had died, or they went away, not liking the taste of the poisoned leaves, and Mab’s beans were allowed to grow in peace. That war was over. But other bugs and worms came in the Blake garden, and Daddy Blake, Uncle Pennywait and Aunt Lolly, as well as the children and their mother, were kept busy. The cut worms got in among the cabbages, and many a nice plant was gnawed off close to the ground, dropping over and wilting away until it died. The cut worms came up out of the ground and ate the tiny cabbage stalks close to the earth.
“We shall have to put collars on the cabbage plants,” said Daddy Blake, as he looked at some which were killed.
“Put collars on cabbages—how?” asked Mab.
“I’ll show you,” said her father.
He took some tough paper and made a sort of hollow tube around the stalk of each cabbage plant, tying the paper with string. One end was shoved down in the ground, the other being close up around the lowest cabbage leaves, until it did look as though the plant had on a high, stiff collar.
“The worms can’t bite through the paper—or at least they hardly ever do,” said Daddy Blake, “and after a while the cabbage stalk will get so strong that the worms can not do it any damage.”
By this time many things were growing in the Blake garden. The tomato plants had been set out, and for the first day or so had been kept covered with pieces of paper so the strong sun would not wilt them. They had been used to living in the house, where they started to grow, and transplanting made them tender. But soon they took root in their new soil and began to grow very fast.