I haven't posted in awhile because my first attempt last Spring was a complete disaster and it was quite discouraging. Grasshoppers ravaged every single plant I had. I was hoping to get some feedback from everyone so hopefully I can have better success next go around.
I think my first mistake was not clearing away the grass. I actually didn't even mow it. Part of my garden was supposed to be a 3 sisters garden. I removed the sod below each mound and built each mound up lasagna style with grass clippings, leaves, compost etc. But all in between each mound was grass and the area surrounding the garden was tall grass.
For irrigation, it wasn't until a month or so into the grow that I actually setup a drip system. Until that point, I was relying on the rain. So surely that couldn't have helped.
Another big issue I had was that I used wheat strawmulch on the potato patch and it sprouted seeds like crazy. I couldn't pick the wheat out fast enough and eventually just let it go because the grasshoppers were winning the battle anyway.
And finally insects, primarily grasshoppers from what I could see, destroyed every last thing I had. First the squash, then the beans, then potatoes and finally the corn were completed decimated. It was pretty discouraging to say the least.
Perhaps my biggest issue is my garden is 60 miles from where I live and so I only get to inspect on weekends at best.
Based the above, can I get some advice for next year? Does anything above explain how I could have 0% success? I really do want to grow corn and beans and potatoes too. But I think I might just go with a regular 4 ft wide bed instead of mounds. I also like the idea of lasagna gardening.
If you are going to garden at a distance, Fukuoka style is the way. Do Nothing. If you remove the wheat grass for example, you destroy the top layer of soil that retains moisture and you eliminate a large portion of the grasshopper's diet. I installed a new naturescape this spring, it has gobs of grasshoppers, a stag herd of 4 deer, crows, magpies, etc. all eating from what is planted there and the weeds that were there before.
Why is it flourishing? Because the system mimics the wild, so it takes into account the animals and bugs that are already there and makes beneficial use of them.
I don't know your area, so I can't advise you on what to do except this; sit and watch. Learn what effects what and how to benefit from that.
Nature is the ultimate force at work here not us!
Grasshoppers can level fields and they were bad this year.
If you are not there, Fukuoka or "guerrilla gardening" style--basically edible weeds that can outcompete the native plants. Sunchokes, potatoes (all kinds) and other tubers so you can harvest on your schedule.
There is a video series on youtube about "four day carrots" It is not exactly permaculture, but it is a fairly hands-off way to grow a monoculture.
"You must be the change you want to see in the world." "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." --Mahatma Gandhi
"Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words." --Francis of Assisi.
"Family farms work when the whole family works the farm." -- Adam Klaus
You might want to consider what you can do in the way of gardening where you live, rather than trying to start with a project sixty miles away that you cannot observe, learn from and make adjustments to on a continuing basis. Weekend snapshot gardening really is a hard way to get started.
Among the things you might consider for that site you used this year: Swales, to collect water for your garden without you needing to put in irrigation.
Provide habitat for insectivorous birds that will help with your grasshopper problem. This can be literally as simple as sticking some 4-6 foot tall sticks in the ground, offering birds places to perch and look for juicy grasshoppers. Plus they fertilize around the perch!
Considering how important observation is, and appreciating the need for some sense of success, I would really urge you to try doing something, even just a few containers, at home where you can see them everyday. So much easier to get success on small projects when starting out.
I don't really have any help, only shared misery. Last year, like you, we didn't mow our fields of grass, and they promptly took over our garden bed. This year, we were better about mowing, which helped a lot in controlling the spread of grass. We also used mulch, which carried seeds like yours did, and also attracted slugs . So, while grasshoppers ate your garden, slugs ate mine. We bought ducks for our slug control, which should help a lot. I already see a lot less slugs. Ducks/guinea hens/chickens could also help with your grasshopper problem, I would think. Guinea hens might be better since they are from hot,dry climates, and I think are more disease resistant than chickens. They also are supposedly better at avoiding predators than chickens are, so you wouldn't have to worry as much in managing them, since you're only able to be there every few weekends. www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/raising-guinea-fowl-zmaz92aszshe.aspx#axzz3HJArd94q
The only sure suggestion I have from expereince is to make sure to mow. It really does help a lot. Also, planting a bunch of things that can compete with grass (for examples strawberries fit that niche here, but I don't know what would in your area) should help to.
Most of all, know you're not alone! I even am at my homestead 24/7! (...though carrying for a colicky baby severely restricted my ability to garden...)