An organic gardner has to make her peace with the spider kingdom. They eat "bad" bugs and help us reduce our reliance on chemicals to control infestations. I have resigned myself to the fact that arachnids have a place in my life no matter the cold sweat I break into when face to face with one. So several years ago I announced to the spiders in my life that I would make a deal with them. You stay outside, I leave you alone. You come inside, I will have to kill you once I work up the courage. I am a firm believer the spider kingdom heard my call for truce as I no longer find them in my fresh laundry. But it hasn't been easy to keep up my end of the bargain and something I call the "spider wand" has helped.
To convey to you how monumental a task it has been for me to make my peace with spiders, let me just tell you about the last time I encountered a truce-breaker. I had been dreaming up a dish involving chard, hard boiled egg, bacon and garlic for several days and had just picked a basketful of greens. The sunlight was streaming into my kitchen window delivering me into a half meditative state. Fresh applewood smoked bacon bits were drying on a plate near the sink filling the kitchen with a delicious "meal to come" smell. Holding my stock pot to my chest, I leaned forward to turn on the water. As I pulled back from the sink handle I happened to glance down into the pot. At the bottom of the pot was a very large, brown spider (with a body about the size of a quarter) running rapidly around trying to find a foothold to escape - upwards and towards me...
I screamed and flung the pot away from me and to this day I'm amazed no neighbor called 911. As I recovered my wits, I realized the pot had landed upright in the sink with half the bacon in it and the large brown spider. I started to call Jovi at work thinking she might come home to "take care of" the spider - OK, maybe I actually called her and she gently said no, or maybe she laughed at me. Then I thought, maybe I could ask a neighbor.... but I hadn't met any of my neighbors yet. (Important urban homesteading rule #1, meet thy neighbors.)
I broke out into a cold sweat as an idea slowly came to me. I needed to take care of this myself. I would need to use the vacuum and I would need the attachment. So, I drank a Mike's Hard Lemonade and pulled on an oven mit. While I screamed and danced around, I was able to suck up the spider. After I'd let the vacuum run for about half an hour to ensure the thing couldn't crawl out, I stopped sweating. Even though I couldn't bring myself to put the vacuum back in the closet, I was quite satisfied with myself. Problem solved. Now I just make sure I put the lid on the pot when I store it and I check every pot in my cupboard before pulling them out, just like I check the shower for spiders every morning before hopping in.
Now, late August is high spider time in my garden. One particular breed makes large webs from plant to plant and, sometimes, across the paths. Over the summer months I watch them grow from just a baby into a creepy full-on adult about the size of a dime - maybe a wee smaller. I've read tons of organic gardening books and know they are my friends and allies, but I find myself avoiding the garden this time of year.
A trick for my fellow gardening friends who are not best friends with the eight legged types, use a "spider wand." The spider wand allows me to remove spiders from my path without killing them. You simply take a stick (any stick you can find will do) and wave it ahead of you as you walk through the garden. The length of the stick should be directly proportionate to your fear of spiders and your garden path width. Now, when you first start doing this you may be tempted to just wave your wand indiscriminately about, randomly hooking webs. This isn't a good idea. You can miss some, plus you can wave them, dangling on the end, back in your own direction. It is far more effective to walk slowly while looking carefully about you for webs. When you discover one in your path (obviously you want to leave those not in your path alone) you simply move the wand across the upper part of the web and gently reposition the spider to a more desireable spot. There's a real technique to it and I'm happy to consult.
Oh, and you might not want to let anyone see you do this the first few times you do it.