Archive for the ‘August 2009’ Category

Of Pests and Parasites

I may just have to stop reading my gardening literature. Twice in the last few weeks, I have read about a garden problem and then stumbled across it in my own plot just days later.

It started with the fall issue of Zone 4 magazine, where I read an article about raspberries. The berry expert profiled in the article mentioned that yellowjackets can be quite troublesome in raspberry patches, burrowing into the fruit and sucking it dry. “Note to self,” I thought, since my raspberries are coming along nicely and should produce well next year. I filed the tidbit away for future use. Not two days later, I wandered out to my strawberry patch, to find it literally buzzing with yellowjackets, sucking the life out of my STRAWBERRIES!! Ugh. I bought a trap, which has since accumulated quite a collection of corpses. But not before they laid waste to just about every beautiful berry on the plants. Damn, damn, damn!

dodder1A few days later, I was perusing my “Weeds of the West” reference book, trying to figure out if what was growing in one of my perennial beds was yarrow (it was common tansy). While flipping through the book, I came across a yucky-looking weed called Dodder. It looks like thin yakisoba noodles, draped all over the host plant. “Ick,” I thought, and quickly turned the page. This weekend, while weeding my garden with the help of my sister and her husband, we discovered the nasty stuff draped all over my corn! I was so mad….like irrationally mad. This weed is a parasitic annual, which explains why my corn had been looking a little iffy. We pulled it out and stuffed it in a garbage can, but I haven’t had the chance to go back out to inspect the damage. Here’s the thing though…further research this evening shows that corn is supposed to be resistant to dodder. Something’s not adding up. Anyone have any ideas? My next step is to go pull out all my corn, just as it’s setting ears….

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Filling a void (the sharecrop and fall planting)

Earlier this week a new friend, Marco, and I began a contemporary voyage into (the once abused term) ‘sharecropping.’  Pat Pulliam's 1 editPat Pulliam's 3 editAt two households that have, for all practical purposes, been in fallow for years (visual of one), the lords of the land are letting us fill the void by weeding or tilling, llama manuring or composting, and planting this week.

I’ll provide an updated photo showing the progression tomorrow.

Our goal is to return this ground to a more holy state–not that we’re improving on nature’s inclinations–what I mean is more directed at the ecstatic skin of the Earth, the soil. As Franco put it importantly, “we are growing the soil, not the plants.” Astrologically, Leo (July 23-August 23) is the best time to work the soil.

Our plan is to work a bit with the moon cycle, grow some species of the root (radish, beet, carrot) because today was the first day of the full moon. [To be full-fledged biodynamic guys, we would incorporate many other techniques, but I feel like especially at this late juncture, we are making an effort to become connected to the seasons & intuitively (suprisingly) timing our work together. We’ll expand our repertoire next year.] It’s really an experiment and even with the infinite powers of natural cycles, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we can pull of this late season dance. If you’d like to bow to yer neighbor and do see do, we’re willing to sell directly to you. Let me know if yer interested and I’ll get back to you in approximately 48-70 days letting you have a pick of the roots, basil and cucumber.

Has anyone tried garden cover crops before and have advice regarding winter wheat/rye or tritacale? Would anyone like to give it a go fer the first time and buy bulk with us? The plan is to plant whatever we order in September.

This crop serves such a dual purpose–one leg of which belongs to a hairy homebrewer. I’m pondering using a bit of the grain in an ale this spring with hops grown by Lifeline Farm. It could be a loco local beer. We’re also going to be gleaning the neighborhood of its apples, making cider (hard and soft), applesauce, jam and pie. Let me know if you’d like to be a part of any or all of this process. By the way, if you’re a member of MUD you can vie for access to two cider presses in these, the Apple Days.

Peas, BBH