They are Not Going to Win

The grasshoppers are about to get the best of me! Labor Day weekend and a bit before and a bit after, we planted our Fall garden.  No matter how many years I plant a garden, I’m always as excited as ever to see those seeds sprout.  This past week a friend was over on Tuesday and we were talking about all the plants and which ones were what and how nice they all looked.

Every morning and every evening I water the new seedlings.  Thursday evening I went out to water and lo and behold . . there were no sprouts.  Nothing green!  Only fat, happy grasshoppers!  I’m telling you . . it was all I could do not to cry. I couldn’t find a green stem . . no residue of anything alive.  I truly couldn’t believe it.  I didn’t even mention it to Vince because I so badly wanted it not to be true. Friday morning, I got up and went out there half expecting to find that I’d had a nightmare and all the little green sprouts were really all still there . . but they were not . . nothing was there but a whole lot of grasshoppers.

There seems to be absolutely nothing we can do to control them.  I’ve tried every remedy I could find, spraying them with cooking oil/soap/water mixture.  Spraying them with ammonia/water mixture.  I’ve tried the tobacco tea spray.  There are just so many of them.  When we walk into the house, we have to stop and brush grasshoppers off our clothes if we’ve been out in the yard. Eight chickens running around, catching grasshoppers and the only thing I can tell you for sure is . . there’s chicken poop on my porch!  I don’t see any less grasshoppers than before the chickens were running loose.  I’m totally at my wit’s end with these grasshoppers.

While out replanting on Sunday, I saw two snakes in the garden and 10 million grasshoppers and was constantly keeping watch on these things that look like green honey bees that have already stung me twice.  It was only when I read the back of the cabbage packet and it said “Plant after the daytime temps drop below 75º” that I could no longer hold back the tears and sat down in my chair and had myself a good cry.  I don’t think there’s a time ever when our daytime temps stay below 75º.  I’m beginning to believe that if we’re going to live in central Texas, I should give up gardening and learn to like TV.  That seems much safer for me.  I don’t think I can survive without a garden to tend and fresh veggies to harvest.

Our solution . . plastic sheeting.  Surely these grasshoppers are going to leave soon.  For now, I hope my little seedlings will be safe.

I had extra beet, spinach and lettuce seeds.  I was able to buy carrot, mustard and chard seeds locally.  That’s all planted.  I ordered kale seeds and hope they will arrive soon.

I’ve tried my best to be as organic as possible with the garden and fruit trees but we’re at the point where if we can’t control the grasshoppers, we’ll have nothing — no fruit trees, no vegetable garden, no blueberries, no grapes.  We’re going to lose everything to them.  A friend recommended Bayer Fruit, Citrus and Vegetable insect control.  It’s a once a year systemic type treatment and I had hoped not to have to use chemicals but . . I’m throwing in the towel.  As soon as the new seedlings are sprouted, we’ll pull back the plastic, use the chemicals, put the plastic back for a couple of days til the chemicals do their thing, and then we’ll hope for the best.

As I was coming into the sewing room to write this post, I looked out the window . . the window with the holes in the screens where the grasshoppers have eaten, and I saw this sitting on top of a pipe.

That’s a pretty thick pipe and a huge grasshopper.  He’s probably stuffed from eating my seedlings!  To say I am totally SICK of grasshoppers would be an extreme understatement.  To say I’m pretty tired of all the critters around here — snakes, scorpions, spiders, moths . . Bloom where you’re planted, Judy!  That’s what I keep telling myself.

Comments

  1. 1

    says

    I am soooo sorry! I’ve heard that guinea hens will eat all bugs and snakes, and they even roost in trees. But I don’t know if they would eat your plants. I have seen people make chicken runs that circle around the gardens, the idea is that the chickens eat the bugs before they get in the garden without having chickens in the garden. I’m not sure how well either of these ideas would work though since I’m not a farmer. I just can’t imagine how heartbroken you must be.

  2. 2

    carolyn says

    I don’t know if this will help, but you might want to try:
    http://www.richsoil.com/diatomaceous-earth.jsp
    diatomaceous earth eats the skins of little critters. you have some pretty big critters! and I don’t know if it will work on them.I was able to buy some locally to get rid of some of my bugs, but the hot no rain, me being sick, and the DEER killed my garden this yr.

  3. 3

    Mary in VA says

    I am so sorry about your seedlings! I know that is both frustrating and disappointing. Seedlings always seem so full of hope, and to lose them all is discouraging. Our grasshoppers aren’t as big as yours but they eat like they are. I’m using frost netting to keep them off my fall plants, with some success. And I agree, no matter how many my chickens eat, there are always more. I think they must be coming for the funerals of the ones that got eaten and staying for smorgasbord (my gardens).

    • 3.1

      Elaine says

      So sorry this happened, I can feel your frustration in your words. What about a greenhouse? Good luck with the new seeds, and hugs.

  4. 4

    Ava Crotinger says

    That’s a sad story, sorry it’s true. I know the feeling. We had blister beetles this year that ate everything. We are moving more to hoop houses. We have a small one for fall / winter growing. They are fun and when you go in, it’s a haven from the outdoor elements. We bought our “bender” and some supplies from a man in Texas. Lost Creek Greenhouses. http://www.lostcreek.net/newgreenhousephotos.html. We’re in the process of putting up a bigger one. The protection plants get from that plastic covering makes all the difference.

  5. 5

    Pandy says

    Judy, You need to buy “row cover”. It’s a white poly sheeting to put over plants in the garden. It’s lets the plants get air and water while keeping the bugs off. Many places use it to keep plants from freezing when I light frost is forecast. I know that’s not your problem. As soon as the sprouts are plants, they are likely to bake to death under the plastic.

    • 5.1

      says

      As soon as they sprout, we’ll use the insect control systemic mentioned in the post. It’s also way too expensive to use to cover the 28′ x 70′ we have planted so far. At some point, the expense outweighs the benefit and we just give up til next year and hope for better gardening conditions.

  6. 6

    says

    Oh, Girl- my heart goes out to you! I know how hard you have worked and I can’t believe how long you have been fighting those stinking grasshoppers!! We had a few years ago, but I haven’t seen a one this year. Of course, we’ve also been without rain for 2 years so even with watering, my garden is a sorry excuse for a garden. Are the grasshoppers always that bad? I figured you’ve picked everyone’s brains about them. Here’s hoping your solution will solve the problem. I DID cry when they ate everything in sight a few years ago.

  7. 7

    GenQuilter says

    Judy, I feel your pain.. You can love a place so much, and hate/dislike aspects of it, all at the same time. I love where I am, I hate the fire ants, and other bugs that have bitten me over the years, and of which I am allergic to. I spend too much time indoors, because to be bitten, could be death. I just watched a TV show the other day, that said the safest weather in the US to live is Hawaii, but even they have volcanoes, and hurricanes and earthquakes…. Hydrponic in outer space sounds nice right now….

  8. 9

    says

    There’s always the greenhouse solution, but I think it won’t be the same every year. They seem to have years when they are terrible, and then they aren’t so bad for a while. What you need is about 1000 hungry seagulls!

  9. 10

    Debbie Rhodes says

    We had to start planting tomatoes and some other Plants in chicken wire cages to keep critters like moles or gophers from eating them from the bottom up… so aggravating…

  10. 11

    CindyM says

    I feel your frustration. We have a relatively small garden, but still love all of the goodies from it. This year we had a huge hail storm at a very inopportune time and lots of blooms and little veggies that had set on where knocked off. We probably should have replated, but didn’t replant much. We’re getting a small amounts, but not the bowls of tomatoes and other things we had counted on. Plus, the hail totally killed the zucchini… that was unbelieveable. We’ve been gone from Texas now for over 10 years and believe me, I don’t miss the bugs of any kind! We’re loving Colorado!

  11. 12

    Doe in Mi says

    What a stinkin’ bummer, girl. I feel for you, pulling your hair out! I have said a prayer for you.

  12. 13

    shirley bruner says

    When i was a kid….we caught grasshoppers, pulled a leg off so they couldn’t get away…LOL…and threw them to grandma’s chickens. the chickens lined up at the fence for them.

    My mom,,,,when she was a kid…and her friends….picked buckets of grasshoppers. when the city was laying new road….they ran out and emptied their grasshoppers in front of the roller that was flattening out the road and there was a green grasshopper stretch on the road for a while. LOL

    I am not a fan of grasshoppers, either.

  13. 14

    Jan says

    I feel your pain! I’ve heard, never tried it and not sure I’d have the stomach to do it, but if you catch some, run them through a blender and liquify them, them spread or spray that around the garden they won’t came back. Like I said, not sure I could do it, but if you’re desperate you might give it a try.

  14. 15

    says

    Seeing that big grasshopper sitting on that pipe reminds me of the one sitting on my porch step Sunday. Big sucker. Seems like there are many more of them around now than there was all summer.

    One question—-won’t your seedlings cook under that plastic if the weather is still so warm?

    It’s been a difficult year…..now I must get out there and water my foundation. The dirt is starting to pull away it’s so dry.

    • 15.1

      says

      As far as cooking, this is what I have in the blog post:

      As soon as the new seedlings are sprouted, we’ll pull back the plastic, use the chemicals, put the plastic back for a couple of days til the chemicals do their thing, and then we’ll hope for the best.

      If they cook, we’re no worse off because we won’t have anything anyway with the grasshoppers.

      We leave the soaker hoses around the foundation and I turn them on every other day for about 40 minutes. The drought can end now. The grasshoppers can leave and never return and I’ll be happy!

  15. 16

    says

    I have discovered (Bark) scorpions and Black Widows at our new place and needless to say, I’m scared! Ever since we took control and spread DE around the perimeter of our house and used Guard (organic pesticide), I haven’t seen as many of either around the house.

    I have lived in Houston area most of my life and in San Antonio area the last four years and I have never seen a Black Widow or a scorpion until now! It’s very very scary for me. But, I’m determined to live my dream.

    We have plenty of grasshoppers too; but, I’m not planting much this year. We are going to spread wildflower seeds on our property later,– much later this year — probably late October or early November. I’ll start real gardening next Spring. Hopefully. :-)

    • 16.1

      says

      We use DE around the house too but it has to be replaced after each rain (not that it ever rains) but I do water the foundation every other day so it isn’t very cost effective to have to replace it every few days. I used DE in the garden but as soon as one grasshopper dies, 10 replace it.

  16. 17

    says

    if you do end up putting chemicals on the sprouts, i would be cautious about putting the plastic back over them. the chemicals might burn them up if you do that. just a thought! good luck!

  17. 18

    says

    Ewww. I hate bugs and I can imagine they’d drive me crazy. Instead of the expensive row covers, we use basic bridal tulle. A 50 yard bolt of 54″ wide is $35 at the wholesaler. And, you can pick whatever fashion color suits your fancy! Diatomaceous Earth is great stuff, especially for slugs here in Oregon, but as soon as it rains or you water, you need to use it over again. There are some organic grasshopper diseases you can buy or special types of nematodes that will infest them and kill them, but since grasshoppers are migratory, you would probably have to keep doing that too. What you’ve got there is locusts!

    • 18.1

      says

      They’re not locusts — they’re grasshoppers. Remember . . these are the same grasshoppers that ate my window screens. Tulle will merely slow them down for a second or two. I used it in KY for Japanese beetles but it won’t phase these destructive critters.

  18. 19

    Jo says

    Try getting some guineas…a bunch of them..they are voracious bug eaters and they hate snakes and will kill them. I love my guineas.

  19. 20

    says

    Maybe you could go into grasshopper ranching ;)
    You know, there might be a market for that somewhere…dry them in your dehydrator, roast them in the solar oven, pickle them in jars, grind them up into flour, dip them in chocolate and honey, stuff jalapenos….
    On a serious note, do they disappear when it rains? Or is it a temperature thing that ends their season?

  20. 21

    Donna says

    I live in Southern Oklahoma and we have lots of grasshoppers. We had them worse last year. They ate entire trees on my property, so I know how frustrating it can be. Every evening last summer I had to sweep a path to the front door when I got home from work, my porch would be totally covered with grasshoppers. So, maybe there is hope that next year will be better. While we still had a lot this summer it was nothing compared to last summer.

  21. 22

    Carol says

    Oh Judy! what an ordeal. Don’t you feel like a frontier woman? Sometimes we just have to resort chemicals regardless if we like them or not. Just use the least amount possible. Good luck!

  22. 23

    Carol says

    Another note…our high today in O-H-I-O is to be 60 degrees. Low this morning was 48. Brrr! Fall has fell :)

  23. 24

    FrancesB says

    How discouraging! What about Ava C.’s suggestion for a “hoop house”? Seems as if it could work. Please don’t stop gardening, you and your garden are a great inspiration to me!

  24. 25

    Theresa says

    I guess it takes a while to work, but there’s a microbe that kills juvenile grasshoppers–Paranosema Locustae– that you can order from garden centers. if you applied it this year, it would work to control next year’s grasshoppers. I think your current plan for this year is your best hope short of the greenhouse idea. Gosh, it is so sad to have so much work in a garden and lose it all to a modern equivalent of a Biblical plague.