Battling Issues In The Garden – Struggles In The High Desert Region

When it comes to managing problems in the garden, sometimes I just want to raise my hands and pour the cement over the whole kit and kaboodle. I live in the high desert region of eastern Oregon, and it’s a riot of weeds, weather and pests.

Fight problems in the garden

There isn’t much I can do for the weather. We are not safe from frost until about June 1st and the newly planted seedlings (and local wheat crops) are sometimes hammered by the wind and hail in early summer. Summers are traditionally beautiful once they start, with hot days and cool nights. Lately, however, summers are sometimes so smoky that it’s not healthy to be outdoors. (Thanks, global climate change).

Battling Issues In The Garden
Battling Issues In The Garden

There were no fires in the area last summer, but we were inundated with wasps. Some are common, but the numbers were incredible across the region and nobody seems to know why. Maybe the wetter winter than usual? I worked on a chemical-free construction site (as far as possible) and we probably knocked down thirty or forty small nests with a rake.

However, when they continuously build nests under the bridge (and in other places we can’t reach), they have just gone too far. This species was extremely aggressive and, after numerous stings, we detonated them with wasp and hornet sprays. This all-out battle continued until the first severe freeze.

There is always the deer. We can’t afford to build an 8 foot fence around our gigantic courtyard, and actually I like deer, so I try to coexist. They do not bother my echinacea, rudbeckia, poppies or zinnias and a sprayer activated by the movement protects tender tomatoes and peppers.

A 94-year-old member of our local garden club recommended a product called “Liquid Fence”. I will try it in some strategic spots this summer and I could also try planting a rose bush or two.

Weeds? There isn’t really much to say except that I love my Hori-Hori knife and the short-handled Japanese weeding sickle when fighting these pests in the garden. We are entering our fifth summer here, and we have probably reduced the sandbur population by at least half. We also fight Russian thistle, yellow mustard, wild grass, Dalmatian toadflax, Centaurea diffuse and many others.

We take it one day at a time, one season at a time. However, it tests my patience, but one can only hope for the best in these situations. Weeds, time and pests … we all have problems with them at some point.

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