When we bought this property in 2000, there was nothing in the way of a garden. Just the rambling log house, some magnificent trees and the raging Blue River swollen by spring run-off. One of the first and smartest decisions I made was to create some berms for rock gardening. This added visual interest and made the digging/planting a lot easier. Over time my garden has become quite eclectic, with an abundance of floral “volunteers” and a personality that changes from year to year. All went well until about 5 years ago when voles took up residence and decimated the gardens. After a 3 year struggle, during which the voles were clearly winning, I was ready to give up gardening. Someone suggested trying Biosol, an all natural and organic fertilizer with a distinctive odor. I did, the garden is now vole free and I use it religiously spring and fall. My greatest joy is provided by the Bleeding Hearts that thrive in the protected raised beds next to the front of the house and in the “meditation circle” on the southeast side. New in the garden this year is Brunnera, a lovely limey broad leaf perennial with tiny blue flowers on long stems that resemble Forget-Me-Not. I hope it does well because I love it! You will also notice a profusion of Jacob’s Ladder, Lamium (ground cover) and Chives…great fillers but beware, given half a chance and they will take over! The small round wildflower bed nestled between the river and the water feature is also new this year. It is dedicated to the memory of Dick Masica, a long time resident of Frisco, who passed away on June 4. Dick relished living in Summit County and he loved its wildflowers and gardens. He would often say, “There is so much beauty all around us and flowers make it brighter.” Dick and his wife Joanne created their own showpiece in Water Dance that has been featured on numerous garden tours. Dick will be missed by many who knew him. Many thanks to Jenny and Alicia of Mountain Garden Care for their help. This garden would not happen without it!
We have been using and offering Biosol since 1997. A good friend of ours, Scott was a Professional Ski Patroller in winter and contractor. He was also working in restoration at Squaw Valley area. He had been using Biosol for several years and promised that it kept voles off his Tahoe Donner lawn under the snow. We thought he had just been lucky in avoiding the voles normal ravages. One spring however, I visited his father-in-law Larry who had a beautiful garden in Tahoe Donner as well. Larry took me to his back deck and pointed to his vibrant green lawn, emerging from the receding snows and said “that’s what Biosol does” and then pointing to another portion of the lawn that looked like it had recently been roto-tilled “that’s where I ran out” . The image was dramatic. We were excited at the prospect of any form of vole repellency with little thought of the fertilizer. That fall we brought in one ton of 55 pound bags to use in landscapes, and to experiment with. The next spring we were excited that we had no vole damage but we were blown-away by how good the lawns looked. In my own lawn, the grass was greener than ever before when melting out from under the snow so I waited before giving my lawn its normal spring feeding. I thought I’d wait until the lawn looked like it needed it. I waited until June, then August and finally October. The lawn still looked vibrant and dark green as I applied Biosol again a year after the last fertilization. Over the first few years we switched from thinking of Biosol as a repellent. We consider it our favorite and most effective fertilizer. We use it in planters, in our nursery stock and in our demonstration and vegetable gardens. We also use it in all of our landscaping and revegetation projects and we have been extremely satisfied with the results. We also use another organic fertilizer with fish bone meal, kelp meal and other organics along with a huge component of live bacterial and fungal microbes. We think the Biosol works even better when we use the other fertilizer as an inoculant. Our other cultural practices also include mulching: “No bare soil”, and aeration and topdressing of lawns in spring. The vole repellency still seems to be the way most people are intrigued enough to try Biosol. Word of mouth from one gardener to another the word has spread. One of the first years we tried Biosol, a client in Tahoe Donner on Bennet Flat road, with a lawn abutting the great meadow tried it. The meadow is home to tens or hundreds of thousands of voles, summer and winter. The following spring, as always, every lawn on the meadow was a wreck, except the lawn with Biosol. The voles had come into the edges of the lawn in a couple of places but the bulk of the lawn was untouched and, of course, dark green. Over the years, with hundreds of clients using biosol (we sell about 18 tons each fall), we have had some say it didn’t work as a repellent, maybe 10-15 percent. But no one has questioned its effectiveness as a great fertilizer. The normal grade is a little large for most spreaders so we use greens grade. We have no idea why it repels voles but it does stink and we generally wait as far into the fall as possible before applying it for repellency.