The longer I garden, the more I understand

tishtoshnm Zone 6/NMJuly 27, 2014

The longer I garden, the more I understand why farmers resort to chemical warfare. I am not saying it is a good thing but I do understand. I would find it deeply satisfying to bomb the vegetable garden to kill all the grasshoppers. There are onions that no longer have any green at all, kohlrabi with just stems sticking up from it, marigold skeletons, potato plant skeletons, etc.

I put down Nolo bait and will be ordering more (the price locally is rather ridiculous, $32 for 1 lb) but I know that it will take time to effect a significant change. Right now the damage is being caused by nymphs, not even full grown hoppers. I am faced with the decision of whether or not it is truly responsible to continue watering some of these plants in my arid state in the hopes they will bounce back or just quit now and hope for a better year next year. Gardening is not for the faint of heart.

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eibren(z6PA)

Apparently some grasshoppers are edible.

Just a thought.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 10:00PM
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glib(5.5)

all of them are actually. And we have eaten them for millions of years. But here is a thought. In the desert, you grow tepari beans, and in the old days, that is what NM gardens had. Maybe onions are out of place, like a melon in 70F-in-July Michigan?

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 10:45PM
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ceth_k(11)

A single plant with raw cover is better than a hundred plants without raw cover.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 11:37PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

What about ducks or chickens to take care of your grasshopper problem? I just did a search and evidently both are grasshopper eating machines. If you type that question, 'do ducks eat grasshoppers?' into Google, it comes up with a lot of Garden Web threads on the subject.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 3:10AM
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theforgottenone1013(MI zone 5b/6a)

Got a cat? The cat that hangs around my house likes to eat grasshoppers.

Rodney

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 9:12AM
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planatus(6)

We have way fewer grasshoppers since we got chickens. I used to have to install row cover tunnels over all the fall brassicas because the hoppers would eat them to nubs. This is no longer necessary thanks to the chickens. In the front yard with no chickens there are still lots of grasshoppers.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 11:49AM
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tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

I am going to start bringing the chickens into the vegetable garden, 2 at a time so they can be supervised for a period each day. Hopefully that will at least reduce the bug load. Right now, the grasshoppers are too little to make it worth eating (not to mention, I would really rather not try it). We have never had this many before and I do not think it was a function of planting the wrong things because they are eating beans, too.

Albuquerque had swarms that were actually visible on radar earlier this season and that should have been a hint for me to take pre-emptive action and get bait then. Hopefully between the Nolo, the chickens and the natural predators (lizards, mantids, birds, blister beetles, etc) I can get the population somewhat reined in. A cat would not help much as they are pretty much coyote chow out here and ducks unfortunately are more work in this climate. Thank you for the ideas and the reminder I need to rotate the chickens into more areas.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 2:27PM
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glib(5.5)

I have always wanted gardens divided in four fenced areas, with a chicken coop in the middle. The coop has four doors, one per area, one door is open at a time, so the chicken can clean rotationally all areas of unwanted bugs and weeds. Really, with chickens there would be no weeds and no bugs.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 2:33PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Have you ever seen the duck house on wheels that Eliot Coleman came up with? He moves them all around his property and as he does, he's also fertilizing wherever they are parked for the day. He designed the house on wheels and called it Duckingham Palace. [g] Now he has a new plan on his website, for a chicken house on wheels.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 3:07PM
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defrost49

How is the bird population in your yard? I garden in NH and we don't have a serious grasshopper problem. At least potato bugs can be knocked off into a pail of water. I don't have Asiatic beetles this year but in past years they have skeletonized my lilies. We have phoebes, barn swallows, tree swallows, bluebirds, etc. They love to perch on something like the metal concrete reinforcing mesh I use for pea trellis where they watch for bugs and swoop after them. Hope you figure out what helps. The row cover sounds good to me.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 2:36PM
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glib(5.5)

I have a bird bath in my garden. It takes a while for them to come and take residence but having robins in the garden does keep the bugs in check. Never had a real infestation. you have to empty and refill the bath every week or so, it is always full of wrigglers.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 2:42PM
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ZachS. z5 Littleton, CO

Not sure about the ducks, but my chickens are every bit as destructive as grasshoppers. They like to eat plants, both weeds and otherwise and they use their huge feet every bit as effectively as a bulldozer when they are looking for bugs or other things to eat in the dirt. I let them roam free in the garden both pre- and post-season, they do a good job finding bugs that overwinter underground and do a little bit of tilling for me. But while there are things growing in there? Not a chance.

In my experience, grasshoppers are some of the most challenging pests to deal with. They tend to come in waves and just when you think you've got them licked, another round shows up. Thankfully they don't reach Egyptian plague numbers too often. When they do, I usually shrug my shoulders and say "there's always next year." Course, if growing plants was a livelihood rather than a hobby, I probably wouldn't be so nonchalant.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 7:28PM
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glib(5.5)

Agree with Zach. That is why I was thinking of four rotating paddocks, so one is always fallow and ready for the onslaught. They clean it up in days anyway.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 7:51PM
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tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

Our bird population is pretty healthy, although robins are generally seen more in January/February. I have plenty of other predators (lizards, skinks, garter snakes). I think this is probably one of those waves. The density I am seeing now is definitely an anomaly compared to the past. They are not swarming but the numbers I see are staggering, and these are just babies, I hate to imagine what it would look like if they all reached maturity.

The chickens are only going in 2 at a time when I can supervise, although if the grasshoppers they clean out everything, I may let them rummage some more. If I were to move and start a new garden, I would probably do the four paddocks for the chickens or a chicken moat around the garden.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 10:07PM
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