“Don’t touch it—Daddy will kill it!” called Mr. Porter to his little boy. But Sammie had no idea of touching the queer bug he had seen, and at which the poodle dog was barking.
“Oh, it’s one of the big green tomato worms!” exclaimed Mr. Blake when he saw it. “They can do a lot of damage. I hope they don’t get in my garden. We must kill as many as we can,” and he knocked the worm to the ground and stepped on it. Roly-Poly barked harder than ever at this, thinking, perhaps, that he had helped get rid of the unpleasant, crawling thing.
“We’ll look over your tomato patch and see if there are any more worms,” suggested Mr. Blake to his neighbor.
“Yes, and then I’ll come and help you clear your plants of the pests,” said Mr. Porter. “We want to have our gardens good this year, so we won’t have to spend so many of our pennies for food next Winter.”
A few more of the green worms were found on the tomato vines, and there were more on Daddy Blake’s. So many were found that he could not be sure he had knocked them all off.
“I think I will have to spray the plants with Paris Green as I did the potatoes,” he said. “The tomatoes will not be ready to pick—even the earliest—for some weeks and by that time the poison will have been washed off by the rain.”
“Making a garden is lots of work” said Hal, next day, when he and Mab had helped their father spray the tomato plants.
“Yes, indeed,” agreed Mr. Blake. “But, like everything else in this world, you can’t have anything without working for it.”
“I thought all you had to do in a garden,” said Mab, “was to plant the seed and it would grow into cabbage, radishes, corn, beans or whatever you wanted.”
“You are beginning to learn otherwise,” spoke her father, “and it is a good thing. Mother Nature is wise and good, but she does not make it too easy for us. She will grow beautiful flowers, and useful fruits and vegetables from tiny seeds, but she also grows bad weeds and sends eating-bugs that we must fight against, if we want things to grow on our farms and gardens. So we still have much work before us to make our gardens a success.”
“We haven’t had much to eat from them yet,” said Mother Blake, who had been hoeing among her carrots. “I hope we can pick something soon.”
“We had radishes,” said Hal.
“And well soon have tomatoes,” added his father. “Now that I have driven away the eating worms the vines will grow better and the tomatoes will ripen faster.”
A week later on some of the vines there were quite large green tomatoes. Hal and Mab watched them eagerly, noting how they grew and swelled larger, until, one day, Mab came running in, crying:
“Oh, one tomato has a red cheek!”
“That’s where it got sunburned,” said her father with a smile. “That shows they are getting ripe. Soon we will have some for the table.”