Sunday, July 5, 2009

Plague of Locusts, Hail, and Wind

Well, I wanted to take some pictures of my beautiful garden this week and post them here, but Mother Nature can be very cruel. Actually, it's not all that awful. The garden will survive. But flattened plants with minced leaves aren't particularly attractive, so I'm going to give it a few days to bounce back before I take some pictures.

The hailstorm produced maybe nickel-diameter hail--not too bad. I hadn't staked my tomatoes so it was bad enough news for them and I'm still not quite sure what I'm going to do about them. My plan originally was to install a horizontal trellis for the vining tomatoes, while just letting the Romas sprawl. But after the phone-line fiasco (see my post "Call Before You Dig...") I got a little nervous about digging anything, and I would have needed to bury the upright supports for the trellis about a foot in the ground--so I just never did it. I still need to call and have the phone company come and mark the lines. Meanwhile, I've got all the supplies for the trellis just sitting around. The beefsteaks and heirlooms have just gone nuts and it would be a challenge to install the trellis at this point. What am I to do?

Then there are the hordes of grasshoppers. I've never seen it so bad. When I first planted out my baby basils the grasshoppers tore through them in a day or two, turning the leaves into lacework. I planted some more basil seeds directly in the garden, assuming that the first crop was a total loss. But now the first crop has mostly recovered and the second crop has sprouted, so the end result of the grasshopper invasion might be more pesto than we can possibly deal with. Last year I just had six basil plants outside for pesto (two more plants indoors for general use). From those six plants with two harvests we got nearly enough pesto to last through the year. This year I planted out twenty-three basil plants and once I thin the new patch to its final spacing there'll be about ten more plants. They're all full of grasshopper holes, so maybe it'll take two munched plants to equal one whole plant, I don't know. Still, that's a heck of a lot of pesto (and think of the olive oil and pine nut bill!). The basil plants aren't the only things the grasshoppers are munching but they've definitely taken the brunt of it. I checked online for an organic control of grasshoppers and there is one, but you have to apply it while the grasshoppers are only 1/4 to 1/2 inch long, so it's already too late for that.

The only other solution would be floating row covers, but I'm not sure that's in the budget for this year. Maybe if I just got enough to cover the most vulnerable plants.

The good thing is that while Mother Nature might do a number on parts of the garden I think it would be difficult for everything to be wiped out. Even if there was baseball-sized hail, something would eventually pop its head back up--though I pray I never live to see that day.

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