Welcome to the July edition of the Seed Bin - High Mowing Seeds Online Newsletter!
Welcome to summer! The solstice has come and gone, and although the days are now slowly growing shorter, the hope for warmer (and drier!) weather rests in the hearts of growers all along the east coast. Just when we thought things couldn't get much wetter in May, along comes June, bringing many more inches of water to the soil. While many crops still seem to be doing well, agriculturalists across the spectrum have had a variety of other problems to contend with due to the soggy conditions, from corn and hay crop losses to rampant weeds; High Mowing Seeds Farm Manager Charlie Rowland will tell you all about how we’re doing in the July Farm Report. At the same time the northeast has been inundated with precipitation, other parts of the country still suffer under drought conditions. The patterns of imbalance and extremity in the weather seem to be manifesting in so many different ways, from abundant hurricanes to abnormally mild winters to excessively cloudy skies; it certainly gives one pause to consider whether larger changes in our global climactic systems are at play. But whether or not this is a result of global warming, or just a string of bizarre weather occurances, our job as stewards of the land remains the same. Those growing organically are well-suited to dealing with these changes, as many of the strategies of sound organic agriculture - observation, adaptation, diversity, flexibility - allow us to move more gracefully through the unpredictable events that nature presents. If this spring has anything to teach us growers in the northeast, it is that ideal conditions rarely, if ever, exist, and we are served best by our ability to work with what's given, rather than what we would like to expect.
Unfortunately, one of the things we're often given are pests. Vern Grubinger, Vegetable and Berry Specialist with UVM Extension, is back again with an article highlighting the benefits of Perimiter Crop Trapping as a strategy to deal with the pressures of insects in the fields. One of those insects, the Tarnished Plant Bug (or TPB), is the specific focus of this month's Pathology Report, presented by High Mowing Seeds Plant Pathologist Dr. Jodi Lew-Smith. As mentioned above, Charlie will give us the on-the-farm rundown for the past month. In this month's Ask The Grower feature, Jodi will give suggestions on how to handle and avoid yellow leaves on your plants. And for the cooks in the audience, we present a few recipies to help put that perennial spring favorite, the radish, onto the plate.
Thanks for Reading, and Happy Summer!
In This Issue:
- Perimeter Trap Cropping: A Novel Approach to Insect Pest Control, by Vern Grubinger, Vegetable and Berry Specialist with UVM Extension
- Pathology Report from HMS Plant Pathologist Dr. Jodi Lew-Smith
- On-The-Farm Rundown from HMS Farm Manager Charlie Rowland
- Ask the Grower
- Clearance Sale on Stella Natura Calendars!
- New Web-Only Specials Page at Highmowingseeds.com!
- Recipe of the month, and more!
Perimeter Trap Cropping: A Novel Approach to Insect Pest Control
by Vern Grubinger, Vegetable and Berry Specialist with UVM Extension
Cookies are OK, but I really like ice cream. It turns out that insects have food preferences, too. Extension specialists are working to understand those preferences, and put them to work in a new tool for managing vegetable insect pests, called Perimeter Trap Cropping, or PTC. For the past few years, Jude Boucher of the University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension and Ruth Hazzard of University of Massachusetts Extension have studied PTC by conducting trials on research farms and in growers' fields.
Trap cropping is not a new idea. Many growers and gardeners have planted trap crops to protect a main cash crop from a pest. To be effective, a trap crop has to be more attractive to the pest that the cash crop. Depending on the situation, a trap crop can be a different plant species, variety, or just at a different stage of growth than the cash crop. Trap crops work best on pests that are abundant and destructive just about every year, rather than for pests that only appear once in a while in your location.
What’s new about PTC is how the trap crop is managed. In the past, growers tended to plant a single row of a trap crop next to a cash crop. With PTC, the trap crop is planted to completely encircle the cash crop, like a fortress wall. Pests are intercepted along the border, regardless of the direction of attack. This simple redesign of the crop production system works equally well on large and small farms and is easy to use because the same machinery, crop spacing, and plant-culture system can be used for both the cash crop and trap crop.
Because PTC concentrates the pest in the border area, the effectiveness of this technique can often be improved by spraying the border as soon as the pest arrives. This prevents pests from moving into the main crop. Border sprays require significantly less time and pesticide compared to full field sprays. By avoiding cover sprays in the main crop, natural enemies are protected, too. PTC with border sprays may not eliminate the pest completely, but it can substantially reduce their populations on the main crop.
Blue hubbard squash has been used in many of the PTC studies so far. It was selected as a trap crop for other cucurbit crops because it is highly attractive to striped cucumber beetles, has vigorous seedlings, and is not as susceptible to bacterial wilt as other attractive varieties.
Blue Hubbard around yellow summer squash has been studied for several years in Connecticut. In experimental plots, over 94% of all the cucumber beetles were found on plants in the perimeter. Beetle populations on the unsprayed main crop in the center of the plots were reduced by up to 93% where sprays were applied to the Hubbard squash border, compared to plots without perimeter sprays or trap crops. Spraying the perimeter trap crop also reduced squash vine borer infestation on the unsprayed summer squash inside the plots by 88%. Six commercial growers employed this technique in 2002 and 2003, and all of them improved their pest control and reduced crop damage. All but one said the system was simpler to use and saved them time and money. Blue Hubbard works equally well around cucumbers or melons.
In Massachusetts, experimental plots planted in 2003 with Blue Hubbard borders had eight times as many cucumber beetles per plant in the border than those with butternut at the border. The number of beetles per plant in the unsprayed main crop was reduced by 60% where there were sprayed Blue Hubbard borders, compared to the control. The same system was tested in six commercial fields of butternut ranging in size from two to six acres. On average, more than seven times as many beetles per plant were found in the borders of protected fields than on the main crop. At one point over a hundred beetles were counted on one plant in the border. Fortunately, the border had recently been sprayed and most of them were dead. Unfortunately, a combination of heavy rains and cold, wet soils led to poor crop emergence and the incomplete borders did not hold up against the beetles. In several cases growers needed to use a full-field spray because of the combination of high beetle pressure and poor trap crop emergence. It may be necessary to use a double border along woods edges, and possibly a systemic insecticide treatment to help keep the borders intact enough to protect the main crop even in times of extremely high beetle pressure.
PTC can also be implemented using a different variety of the main crop species in the border. Prizewinner, a giant pumpkin variety, is highly attractive to cucumber beetles – more attractive than standard pumpkins. One grower in 2003 planted Prizewinner as a perimeter around a field with a mix of other pumpkin varieties as the main crop. Despite the fact that half the field was planted late due to the wet weather, the beetles were heavily concentrated on the border plants. There were three times the numbers of beetles in the border than in the main crop. The grower sprayed the border three times, did not spray the main crop, and was satisfied with his control in the main field.
Cabbage is another crop that may be protected by PTC. Researchers in Florida were able to keep the diamondback moth from reaching action thresholds in nine commercial cabbage fields by surrounded them with two rows of collards. In Massachusetts, it seems that imported cabbageworms also prefer collards to cabbage. A 25% reduction in the number of cabbageworm larvae was measured in the main crop of the plots with a perimeter of collards vs. the plots without PTC collard borders.
Pepper maggot flies lay their eggs in pepper fruit and the maggots feed inside, ruining the fruit. This pest is worse on some farms or fields than others, and only occurs as far north as southern New England. Pepper maggot flies prefer to lay eggs in cherry peppers, compared to regular bell pepper. Researchers in Connecticut have stopped pepper maggots from infesting bell peppers by using a perimeter trap crop of hot cherry peppers and border sprays timed when flies begin to sting the fruit in the border. In experiments, bell peppers surrounded by the trap crop produced at least 98% pest-free fruit at harvest compared with all-bell plots, which had 15% of the fruit infested. Commercial farmers using PTC harvested 99.99% clean pepper fruit, and had better pest control than farms that had used well-timed full-field sprays. They reduced their insecticide use and reported improvement in crop profitability ranging from $5 to $152 per acre.
Results from experiments in Connecticut also indicate that both Colorado potato beetle (CPB) and eggplant flea beetle (FB) prefer the elongated Italian or Japanese eggplant, ‘Vittoria’ compared to standard eggplant varieties and to tomato. If either of these are a problem on your eggplant or your tomato, using Vittoria as a PTC may help, although results are not yet conclusive. Border plants can be sprayed when FB or CPB arrives, or could be treated with a systemic insecticide before transplanting.
PTC may also work with potatoes around potatoes. Since Colorado potato beetles emerge in the field edges and walk or fly into potato fields, an early-planted or early-emerging crop that is planted along the border can serve as a trap crop. Early emergence can be achieved by green sprouting the potatoes before planting. Another option is to plant an early variety such as Superior two weeks before the rest of the crop.
PTC is in its early stages of development, but shows great promise. If you’d like to try it, here are some tips for success. First, be sure to plant the trap crop on good ground where it will grow well, and sow it to completely encircle the cash crop, without any gaps, even in an irregular shaped field. The trap crop can be planted with your regular planter, or by hand. Drive a planter across the ends of the rows, in order to plant crosswise. If you have to cultivate out some plants in the row middles, don’t worry about it. Multiple trap crop rows may be needed, especially near woods where the pest has over-wintered, to prevent large populations of migrating pests from breaching the trap crop barrier.
Scout the border rows frequently and spray the perimeter as soon as beetles (or other pest) appears and begins to feed on the trap crop. Don’t wait to get to a threshold of pest numbers. Use PTC along with crop rotation and other cultural practices to reduce pest populations. Don’t expect PTC to provide perfect control with extreme pest populations.
There are several articles with more details about PTC located on the web at www.hort.uconn.edu/ipm/
; click on ‘vegetable ipm’ on the left-hand menu.
This article is based on the work of Jude Boucher at UConn Extension
and Ruth Hazzard at UMass Extension
, and their cooperating growers.
Image Sources: http://www.hort.uconn.edu/IPM/veg/pics/jude1.jpg
Pathology Report for July 2006
by HMS Plant Pathologist Dr. Jodi Lew-Smith
Basics of Plant Pathology: Organically-compatible control of insect pests, Part 2
If you’ll recall, I was telling you last month that the three most popular bug pests in a recent survey of organic vegetable growers were the Colorado potato beetle, the striped cucumber beetle, and the tarnished plant bug. We discussed the first two last month; this month, I’ll talk about the tarnished plant bug.
Tarnished plant bug, or TPB, as it is known among haggard and exhausted vegetable farmers, is both one of the most elusive and most destructive of our insect pests. Some of you may not even know what it looks like, because it is small, brown, and relatively inconspicuous, and flies away as soon as you approach it. But you’ve all seen the damage it does in the way of cat-faced strawberries and misshapen peppers and eggplants. What you might not have noticed is all the flower buds that never even developed in the first place because TPB punctured the shoot behind the flower bud and injected a poison that caused the flower to abort. This is particularly prevalent in peppers, eggplants, and also during tight-bud stage in apple trees, where the entire flower cluster aborts. TPB feeds on flowers and/or developing fruit of over 300 different species.
Believe it or not, though, taking out our fruit and vegetable crops is only a minor hobby for TPB, which actually prefers to spend its time in leguminous herbs such as clover and alfalfa, and also greatly prefers weed species such as dandelion, chickweed, wild mint, creeping charlie, and goldenrod. This distinguishes TPB from our other two worst pests in the Northeast, the Colorado potato beetle and striped cucumber beetle, in that each of these is highly specific to one host type and thus much more easily identifiable. TPB, as I said, is somewhat inconspicuous, but once you have seen one you’ll have no trouble recognizing them again; they have a distinctive pattern of brown and tan shapes on their back, and a characteristic triangle on the back behind the head. In other parts of the country they seem to typically be more yellow and green, but around the Northeast they seem to be mostly brown and tan (there’s a particularly nice picture at http://www.gnb.ca/0171/20/0171200010-e.asp
) . If you’re not sure you’ve seen one and want to be sure you can recognize it, let a patch of lettuce or spinach go to seed and you’ll quickly attract a halo of TPB around the seed heads. They’re the ones that fly away as soon as you approach. If you’d like to see a nymph rather than an adult, find a patch of cultivated strawberries and give the flowers a shake – the nymphs are the whitish insects that scurry quickly across your hand (unless they’ve been sprayed, in which case they’ll hopefully stay put)
As for organic control, I am pleased to report that some of our newer tools seem to be doing a really nice job. The most recent of these is the biocontrol agent Beauvaria bassiana
, a fungus formulated and sold as in an OMRI-acceptable form as Naturalis™. This product sprayed every 3 to 5 days during bloom on strawberries and other crops seems to be at least moderately effective at controlling the nymph forms of TPB. University studies (click here
for a complete assessment) have shown variable results in controlled settings, but in a recent visit to Joey Klein at Littlewood Farm in Plainfield, he showed me that all the nymphs he shook off his strawberries were completely dead after four sprays of Naturalis, and he was satisfied that he’d achieved nearly complete control – so I would say it’s definitely worth a try on strawberries.
Other compounds you might try in rotation with Naturalis are neem (sold either as Aza-Direct™
or in pure form as neem oil), pyrethroid compounds such as Pyganic™
, and insecticidal soaps such as M-Pede™
or Safer Brand™
soap. All of these products are deterrents of one form or another, and used in cooperation with one another they provide a very effective means of sending TPB off to visit one of its other 300 hosts. With a spray protocol that employs one or more of these compounds you can be pretty sure you’ll also control the suite of minor pests that affect the same crops, such as strawberry bud clippers (which also clip buds on raspberries) and stinkbugs, but you may also reduce your population of beneficials such as spiders and ladybird beetles.
Up and coming on the frontier is the potential for release of a biocontrol agent in the form of a parasitic wasp, such as Peristenus digoneutis
or Anaphes iole
, both of which have shown some promise, and/or the use of pheromone-baited sticky traps that can be placed nearby crops to attract adult TPB before they lay their eggs. Much of this work is being done for cotton farmers in the south, for whom TPB is especially problematic.
On-The-Farm Rundown - July 2006
by HMS Farm Manager Charlie Rowland
I am back, after a missed article last month, due to sunshine (yes, sunshine!). It was a sunny week, and the window was open to get as much done from the early morin' to the late evening. But since then, the rain just keeps coming and coming and coming. There were a few breaks from the wet weather to get as many weeds out of the fields as possible, and as many seeds in that we could before they washed out. Having the weather we have had, I am surprised the crops do not look so bad.
We have all our transplants out, and the trial field is really taking off. It is very interesting to walk around this two-acre field just bursting with so many varieties of different veggies and flowers. Most of the plants in the trial gardens are varieties we carry, with a lot of others that we are taking a first look at; if they perform the way we are hoping, you may see some of these seeds in our upcoming catalogs.
Most of the transplants are doing well, with the Waltham Butternut and Prize Choy Pac Choy doing an outstanding job in withstanding the rain without much sun. Most of the brassicas are starting to flower, and the spinach is well into its reproductive cycle. Next week, if we finally get some dry weather, the Evergreen Bunching Onions and the Chive seeds will be collected and dried, and then handed over to the seed cleaning department. We are all getting excited about having our first seed harvest of the year!
I do have some weird news to speak of. This past Sunday, I came to work like I have every day since April 3rd to water the greenhouse. I did my job and went home; on Monday morning I went to water the greenhouse, and noticed that some of my personal plants were missing from the front of the greenhouse. After looking harder, I noticed a more missing plants. Seeing as it was early and no one was at work yet, I had a lot of time to wonder if maybe a co-worker took them, thinking they were extra plants. So as soon as people started arriving I started to question. I got the same response from everyone: “I wasn’t here this weekend”. That’s when we came to the conclusion that, yes, sometime on Sunday we were ripped off! Strange, huh? They took no tools or equipment, but instead enough plants for two truck loads. As you growers out there can appreciate, we have put a lot of time and energy into our work, and unfortunately, now it is too late to replant them. Site security is generally not a concern most growers need to consider, but let this experience serve as a cautionary tale to those of you growing in an unsecure location.
Well, despite rain and theft, we will survive! So to you folks in the northeast, get out your umbrellas and galoshes (and folks in the mid- and southwest, don't forget your sunscreen!) and I will see you in the fields.
Ask The Grower
This month, HMS Plant Pathologist Dr. Jodi Lew-Smith answers the question:
"What could be missing in the soil if the leaves of my plants (e.g. yellow beans, peppers, tomatoes, flowers) turn yellow? Would you feed the plant or the soil? Or move the plant to another spot? Do they need more sun? More shade? "
I'd feed both - i.e. the soil and the leaves - if you can. I'd spray a good fish extract, like Neptune's Harvest
, on the leaves, and sidedress with a good dose of compost (try the VT Compost Transplant Booster
) on the soil. It's impossible to say exactly which nutrient is in short supply without doing a soil test (which I would certainly recommend - they are enormously informative) - but fish extract and compost are both complete blends of mostly every macro- and micro-nutrient your plants need, so I expect they'd green back up quickly with those amendments.
I hope this helps; Good luck!
Have a burning gardening question? A pesky path problem? A vexing marketing quandry? Send us your questions, and we'll get you answers! We will publish one of your questions, with an answer given by one of the experienced growers on our staff, in each issue of the Seed Bin.
Send your questions to
, and please write "Ask the Grower" in the subject line.
Clearance Sale on Stella Natura Calendars!
We may be well into the calendar year, but the growing season is just taking off (up here, anyway). So whether you are looking for a great planting calendar, a terrific biodynamic agricultural reference, or just a boost of inspiration, take advantage of this clearance sale, while supplies last. Take 50% off the price of the Stella Natura Calendar for the whole month of June!
Simply enter the coupon code "stella06
" in the Discount Coupon box at the bottom of your shopping cart - it's that simple!
We use this calendar ourselves to increase our awareness of what is going on in the heavens as we are busily planting and tending our crops on the ground. Each month is beautifully illustrated and includes fascinating and inspirational articles. The calendar itself provides a detailed daily account of the activities of the sun, moon, planets, zodiac as well as eclipses, conjunctions, ascending and descending nodes and so much more stuff you didn’t even know was going on.
To learn more about biodynamic agriculture, visit www.biodynamics.com
, then order your copy of Stella Natura
today, and bring more vitality into your farm or garden!
Don't forget - to receive the 50% discount on this product, please enter the coupon code "stella06" in the Discount Coupon box
at the bottom of your shopping cart! Available while supplies last.
Take advantage of great deals on great seed! Maybe there was an inventory adjustment or an overstock, or maybe we just want to promote a favorite variety. Whatever the reason, save 20% on these discounted seeds when you order online at www.highmowingseeds.com
- but order now, because the sales won't last! Just add the varieties to your cart, and your discount will be applied automatically when you checkout. And yes, all sizes of the featured products are on sale, so the more you buy, the more you save! But remember, the products are only available on sale for a limited time, so buy now before the sale ends.
Recipe of the Month
Someone recently asked me "what am I supposed to do with all these radishes?" after they received their CSA share; well, here are a few answers to that annual spring question!
Kimchi is the national dish of Korea, and is an incredibly nourishing and healthy food. Leftover kimchi can be added to soup and stir-fries. The longer kimchi has been aged, the tastier the dish.
2 Napa cabbages (about 8 pounds)
1 1/4 cups coarse salt
5 to 6 oz. giant white radish, or other available radish
5 Tbls. coarse salt
3 Tbls. sugar
2 cups red pepper flakes
2 tsps. finely minced gingerroot
2 cups onion juice
5 Tbls. crushed garlic
Quarter cabbages lengthwise. Dissolve 1 1/4 cups of salt in 4 cups of water in a wide and shallow basin or bowl. Hold each stalk of the cabbage and rinse it thoroughly with the salt water, applying it between the leaves as well. Do not shake out all the salt water.
Place the soaked cabbage in a gallon-sized container with large clean stones on top to act as weights. Discard the remaining salt water. Cover the container and let the cabbage pickle for 4 hours with the weights in place. Turn over and pickle 4 more hours.
Shred the radish and combine it with the seasonings in a large mixing bowl. Mix together using your hands. Wearing plastic gloves, generously smear the seasoning on the cabbage stalks and fill in plentifully between the leaves as well. Pack the kimchi tightly in the gallon container. Cover the surface with plastic wrap, pressing down to get rid of all air pockets. Cover the jar. Store at 70 degrees for 48 hours to ferment.
Before serving, chop up the kimchi stalks, carefully preserving the neat piles. Chill before eating. Serves 5 to 6.
This simple spread is a refreshing spring treat.
12 small radishes
2 Tbl dill or basil, fine chopped
8 oz Cream cheese
Lemon juice (opt'l.)
Wash and trim radishes. In a food processor fitted with a steel
blade, grate radishes and herbs briefly. Blend in cream cheese and
lemon juice. Refrigerate. Serve on crackers or thin slices of bread.
Tossed Italian Salad
A fresh and elegant salad to complement a wide variety of meals, or stand-alone as a tasty summer snack.
4 c. fresh spinach, torn
2 c. red leaf lettuce, torn
1 medium green or sweet yellow pepper, cut in strips (1 c.)
2/3 c. thinly sliced radishes
1 small red onion, sliced and separated into rings
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
4 tsp. olive oil or salad oil
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. dried oregano, crushed
For Salad: Place spinach, lettuce, pepper strips, radish slices and onion rings in a large salad bowl and toss lightly.
Dressing: In a screw-top jar combine vinegar, olive oil, garlic salt, oregano and 1 tablespoon water. Cover and shake well to mix.
Pour dressing over salad. Toss lightly to coat. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over salad and toss lightly. Sprinkle with ground pepper (if desired). Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.
Read a Previous Seed Bin Issue
Looking for an old article or recipe? You can read old issues of the Seed Bin here
. Please note that Sale items listed in these archival issues are no longer valid.
Let's Make it Better
This is your newsletter, not ours - we just write it. Just as your comments, questions, concerns, and field experience have helped to guide our business in every way, from variety selection to customer service, we rely on your feedback to guide the creation of a publication that is informative, inspirational, entertaining, and enjoyable to read. What would you like to see more or less of? Technical advice? Seed saving tips? Tools and techniques? Information about High Mowing Seeds? We want to give you what you want, so please let us hear from you! Write to email@example.com
with your comments, critiques, and questions.
Thanks for reading - and responding!
Vern Grubinger, Vegetable and Berry Specialist, UVM Extension - Feature Writer
Charlie Rowland - Farm Editor
Jodi Lew-Smith - Technical, Pathology Editor
Jacob Racusin - General Editor