Be Relevant

Relearning everything we've forgotten.

Friday, August 6, 2010

An old pest identified, a new one discovered, and more back-breaking evidence no-till is the way to go

Adult drying his wings
An Old Pest Identified

The Imported Cabbageworm (Artogeia rapae) has ravaged my broccoli.  I spent every third day picking the green caterpillars with a thin yellow stripe on their back off the leaves of my poor plants.  They are actually quite hard to see as they blend into the foliage pretty well.  But their dark green droppings give them away.  They lay yellow cones on the underside of the leaves.  They really love plants in the cabbage family and I found a few eating away on my potato plants.  The adults (pictured) emerge in the spring from pupae that hibernated over the winter, and they lay more eggs.  The pupae will eat for 2-3 weeks then move down to the soil to pupate.  In about 1-2 weeks you'll have a fresh supply of adults to start the cycle over.  They do this 3-5 times a year.  I should have killed it but alas poor Yorick I knew him well.  To control this pest you can use a floating row cover.  The most effective and requiring the most attention is handpicking them off.  You have to do it.  There are also yellow sticky traps that capture the females.

A New Pest Discovered

Here are two pictures of my lovely patio garden.  Lovely isn't it?  I'm making do with the limited space I have.  I also have melons, sunflowers, and corn out front.

So I get rid of the Imported Cabbageworm and find this new pest bothering my garden. 
Apparently, I can't have anything overhanging the rail into the landscaping.  This also includes not having plants next to the landscaping out front.  Solution:  I moved the stuff out front closer to my door - it gets a lot less light and will probably die but we all ready got one great harvest of sunflowers and the melons and corn are stunted anyway.  On the back patio, I just inverted my extension so it now juts into my patio.  The whole idea was to get more light and not take up more space and my new pest has succeeded in giving me less light and taking up space.  Such is apartment life and prevailing attitudes toward growing your own food.  I have not yet found a control for this new pest but I'll let you know when I do.

More Back-breaking Evidence No-till is the Way to Go

Last weekend at the farm I hand hoed a full row to get it ready for planting of Arugula.  This thing was overgrown.  I hoed it, raked it, composted it, smoothed it, then spade it.  See the nice brown, dark soil on the left of this pic?  I started with the nice patch of green weeds that's to the right.  Yeah by hand.  Granted they wanted to plant this bed in Arugula right away.  But this bed was a prime candidate for no-till.  There are two ways to go about it.  First go through and cut down the foliage that is all ready present; either with a mower or a scythe.  Next you would lay down a layer of straw or you could lay cardboard on top and allow it to smother the weeds below and then lay a layer of straw.  The biggest drawback (I actually cringe to use the word drawback as I personally see no drawback to no-till but for the lack of a better word) to no-till is that you would leave this bed till it had decomposed the green manure, as its called, below.  This means you would have to have enough beds to be able to rotate your crops through.  This can be done and just takes extra planning and a little more space.  But no-till does several things for you.  It replenishes most the nutrients and water you all ready expended on this bed by using the weeds as a green manure.  You don't disturb the soil so healthy earth worms and microbes remain undisturbed.  Dormant weed seeds don't get brought to the surface to sprout a new. After a couple of cycles the weeds you do get will be far less in number.  You are building up the biomass in the soil.  The only thing that I would do is pull any parts of the crops you were growing out and compost them regular.  You don't want to allow pests to linger.  As you can tell I am all for NO-TILL.  Best stuff since sliced bread! 

In case you need more proof here is the garden from 2 weeks ago.  Look at those sweet little beauties and the weeds are non-existent!!  
Parting thought of the week:  Buddha said that every good buddhists should plant a tree every 5th year of their life.  I'll round up and say I owe 7 but I know I planted some as a kid.  I think that's a good rule of thumb for everybody.

Parting shot of the week.  Bleu (she's the Blue-Tick Hound mix - I know witty name) has somewhere in the past week annexed the couch and Mel's silent approval has made it part of her official territory.  Viva la revolucion! Or something like that.  Coop

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