My husband has never seen the Berry Farm and never wants to. He is, he says, a creature of the city. Still, I value his opinion, and after all the land is half his under the Texas community property law.
So ... back to the saga of the Lone Woman against the Voracious Grasshoppers
I couldn't bear the thought of letting all the fruit trees be killed by grasshoppers without at least making an effort. About 6 weeks ago, I made a screen cage to fit over a young fig tree that had been completely defoliated by the hoppers, its stem eaten down to a nub. Here's what it looks like now:
The screen cage was such a huge success, it seemed worth trying on the other fruit trees. So I made cages for all the apple, pear, and peach trees. Here's a poor little apple tree, with the girdled branches and top removed:
The poultry wire frame was already in place. After I shot the photo, I wrapped the wire frame with aluminum screen (fiberglass would have been easier to work with, but the f---kers would chew right through it. I had some clothes hanging to dry the other day the other day, and found a hopper eating a hole in a silk shirt.)
Here's a photo of some of the young trees in their protective cages:
The trees are placed so that there will be a little space in between the crowns when they're mature (if the poor little things live to grow up). The soil is loamy sand that drains quickly. I don't want the trees competing too viciously with each other for water, so I've planted them a bit farther apart than one might place trees in a standard orchard. The cylindrical sliver object in the mid-foreground is an upside down garbage can I was using as a portable table for my supplies.
I've been living the lawyer part of my life in San Antonio since Tuesday. I'm eager but also a little scared to go to the Berry Farm tomorrow. Will there be new leaves? Or will the hoppers have found a way in to continue their destructive work?
Just for fun ...
Here's the view from my shady chair where I sit and eat watermelon and toss the rinds for the hens to gobble down:
See? There are still some pretty spots here and there that the hoppers have not destroyed. They don't like impatiens and vinca. They'll nibble on the hoja santa and datura but don't eat them all up. They don't like castor bean at all. Maybe it's as poisonous to insects as it is to mammals. Some people say that if you plant stuff the hoppers hate, they'll leave your other stuff alone, but I have not found that to be true. There was a little pear tree planted close to a castor bean tree. The latter is now lush and beautiful, while the pear tree has been stripped bare and many of its branches girdled.
And, as an antidote to a horrible video I watched last week about factory-farm hens kept in cages so small they can't even stand up ... here's one of the Berry Farm hens going about her business.