Friends? Gardeners? Anyone out there?

Dear determined gardening friends, Indy and Dee in particular,

If anyone saw my garden this very minute they would be shocked and dismayed. SHOCKED! I tell you.

The new sandstone retaining wall is about half finished. Some of the rudbeckia have escaped the perennial borders and are growing in the middle of the lawn. Yet, in those same perennial borders, you can find big gaping empty places where I finally got fed up with poor performers and ripped them out by their heads. Fair warning to the tomatoes: if they don’t get their act together and start producing, they, too, will meet an untimely death at the hands of the head gardener.

What really got my knickers in a twist today was the chomp, chomp, chomp and clickety click of the G.D. grasshoppers. Some of these nasties are 2 and a half inches long. They are eating huge holes in my plants and shredding the garden. There are over 1000 varieties of grasshoppers in North America. Oh joy. Plus,the voracious black vine weevils have stripped my Otto laurels and left nothing but the midribs of some leaves…and their telltale pinking-shear bite marks around the edge of the other leaves. Seems to be an especially bad year for these bugs. I checked with my other gardening pros, and they are all fighting the fight against these two evil doers.

I live 30 feet from the Boise National Forest and the Foothills with a capital F. Eradicating the pests is akin to putting out a fire with a teaspoon of water. The hoppers are sitting across the street, thinking, whoaaaaaa, look at that oasis of tastiness a few hops away! And the hordes descend. Part of this is my fault and I know it. I have a good layer of mulch on all my perennial beds in an effort to retain moisture and this in turn, makes a perfect hiding/breeding place for the weevils and nice green plants (even though they are quite drought tolerant) look like a smorgasboard to the hoppers.


I have a couple of plans in place: the first one includes a serious dusting of the patio containers with diatomaceous earth. I will follow that application with a spray of Safer brand Insect Soap & Pyrethrin. Both of these controls are considered organic. If these tricks fail, I’ll know in a day or two and will pull out the big guns. Next up, Neem oil w/the insecticidal soap. My only other options are unacceptable: remove the mulch (not gonna do it, mulch is there to aid in moisture retention and I spent hours and $$ putting down the mulch); and/or soil drench with stuff that is so dang toxic, well, even I won’t use it.

Even the dog has done his part to help with the plague of hoppers. He stalks them for hours, catches them in his mouth, carries them over to the lawn where he spits them out (Good Boy!) and rolls on them. Slow but charming.

Not much else is going on this week in my garden. The Sun Gold cherry tomatoes are prolific. I picked an BIG tomato yesterday, I think it was Black Brandywine (tag is lost, of course). It made a fine contribution to a delicious BLT. So much so, I declared this week the Official Week of BLT sandwiches. Oh, and I have some long thin eggplants trying to ripen.

We had one of the coolest days on record for Boise in August. It was all of 60 degrees on Friday with a lot of much loved rain. Here we are, in the desert, and after two days of coolth and a nice rain, people were bitching for summer to return.

And that, friends and gardeners, is life in the Wild West, Week 23, of the 2009 garden at Ranch du Bois. Cowboy up!

Your pal,