Scary things in your garden

October 1, 2013

In many countries, this month leads up to a time where people celebrate the spooky and scary (in the US, we call it Halloween).

While there are some garden issues that are sort of silly to be afraid of, there are some you really should be concerned with.


Bugs are what first comes to mind for most new gardeners, especially the prissy sort -- but most bugs are more interested in your plants than in you.

The bugs you need to worry about come in to two categories:

  • they're poisonous
  • you're allergic to them

Generally, if you've lived somewhere a while you know what the local poisonous bugs are, but if you've just moved it might be worthwhile to ask your neighbors what bugs are poisonous there, so you can know to avoid these.

(Just don't take their advice about pesticides! If you want a good book on how to deal with bugs in the garden, this one has some good advice.)

Of course, you probably already know if you're severely allergic to a particular insect -- if you are, make sure you keep your medication and a cell phone with you when you go out into the garden, in case the worst should happen.

Even if you've never had an insect allergy, you can develop one if you get stung enough, so it's good to know the symptoms:
  • swelling at the sting site
  • pain
  • shortness of breath and dizziness are severe symptoms and you should seek medical attention


Most garden snakes are harmless, and are as afraid of you as you are of them. But it's important to know what the poisonous snakes are in your area and how to identify them, especially if you have small children, so you can teach them how to react should they see one.


Getting hurt in the garden is common enough that it warrants talking about. Some ways to prevent this are:
  • get help when lifting something too heavy for you -- better to be thought weak now than suffer for years with back pain
  • wear eye protection when pruning, harvesting fruit, and of course when using power tools
  • wear closed in shoes and gloves


This is the most frightening one yet. No matter what you think about vaccinations, a gardener MUST be immunized against tetanus. Do not even think about going out in the garden without this.

Tetanus bacteria live in the soil, and can grow in something as simple as a deep stab by a thorn or splinter. Once you develop symptoms it can be too late, and if you do recover you'll have a long and painful time of it.

If you're not sure if your tetanus immunization is up to date, contact your doctor right away.

I don't mention these things to terrify you, but to make sure you can continue in your edible garden for many years to come.

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