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MOF&G Cover Fall 1997

 

 


  You are here:  PublicationsMaine Organic Farmer & GardenerFall 1997Tips   
 Tips – Fall 1997 Minimize


Alternative Fungicides for Mildew
Vinegar Spray
Trends in Landscaping
Lure Beneficials to Your Garden
A Simple, Inexpensive Pond
Boiling Water Kills Weeds
Woods End Products Finding Increasing Uses
Hair as Fertilizer


Alternative Fungicides for Mildew

Italian researchers have tested some readily available chemicals on powdery mildew of roses. In all but one trial, unsprayed plants had over 55% of their leaf area infected by mildew. All nonconventional fungicidal chemicals significantly reduced mildew infection, and most were as effective as a commercial fungicide. Compounds that were tested included sodium bicarbonate (baking soda, NaHC03), potassium orthophosphate, di-H (KH2PO4), acetic acid (CH3CO2H), potassium salts of fatty acids (MYX-F-4020 and MYX-F-403 from the Mycogen Co.), JMS stylet oil (from the Sun Refining and Marketing Co.), emulsified vegetable oil, and wine vinegar (6% acidity). Some caused plant damage. Wine vinegar showed no problems but was used in only two trials.

Reference: Hortldeas, July 1997. Original report Calo Pasini, Ferdinando D’Aquila, Paolo Curir and Maria Lodovica Gullino (DI.VA.P.RA.-Tatologia vegetale, Via Leonardo de Vina 44,10095 Grugliasco, Italy), “Effectiveness of Antifungal Compounds against Rose Powdery Mildew (Sphaerotheca pannosa var. rosae,) in Glasshouses,’’ Crop Protection 16(3), May 1997, 251-256. (Butterworth-Heinemann Ltd., Westimry House, P.O. Box 63, Guildford GU2 5BH, United Kingdom.)

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Vinegar Spray

Japanese growers have sprayed dilute solutions of vinegar (1 part vinegar to 25 to 50 parts water) on vegetable and fruit trees every two or three days to help control insects and diseases.

Source: “Growing Tips,” Greg & Pat Williams, Plants & Gardens News; originally in Ecology Action Newsletter, Nov. 1994 – Ecology Action/Common Ground, 5798 Ridgewood Rd, Willits, CA 95490.)

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Trends in Landscaping

The American Association of Nurserymen sees the following trends in home landscaping. Growers might tune into some of these to satisfy their customers’ demands.

• Going Native. The use of native plants or hybrid varieties of natives in landscape plans is increasing. Concern for the environment is the push behind using natives, since many require fewer pesticides and less water to grow.

• Continuous Bloom. Gardeners want something attractive in their yards all year. Use of ornamental grasses, plants with colorful berries, and trees and shrubs with interesting bark or seed heads adds interest to the landscape during all four seasons.

• Water Gardens. Apartment dwellers are discovering the fun of creating a water garden for a deck or patio. Water gardens with fish, snails, and oxygenating plants can be created in small pots and containers.

• Creative Containers. Instead of one plant per pot, gardeners are using several varieties of contrasting textures and complementary colors grouped dramatically in a single container. A related trend is to create salad garden pots containing different lettuces, or tea garden containers of herbs.

• Outdoor Rooms. Homeowners are enjoying dining, relaxing and entertaining in spaces landscaped for these purposes. Trellises, tree canopies, arbors, shrubs and groundcovers can serve as floors, ceilings or walls in these rooms.

• Heirloom Gardens. Gardeners are using heirloom varieties for their fragrance, for nostalgia, for the hardiness, disease resistance or color of these plants.

• Gardening for Wildlife. Bird and butterfly gardens continue to be popular; dense shrubs are planted for rabbits and other small animals; some homeowners are leaving part of their yard “wild” to provide food and cover for animals.

Source: Weekly Market Bulletin, N.H. Dept ofAg., June 18, 1997.

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Lure Beneficials to Your Garden

Lacewings, an insect whose larvae feed on aphids and other soft bodied insects, like tansy flower nectar when they are adults. Ground beetles, another predator commonly seen in the garden, likes piles of rocks as shelter.

– Kris Sader

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A Simple, Inexpensive Pond

Andrew Goodheart Brown has this recipe for making a pond in "Creating Habitat: Living With Animals in the City" (The Permaculture Activist, #33, Dec. 1995; PO Box 1209, Black Mountain, NC 28711): He set a 20-gallon, heavy plastic tub, approximately 22" x 15" x 15", into the soil and surrounded it with stone to soften the edges. Water came from "a simple rainwater catchment: barrels under downspouts." Duckweed, water lily and variegated calamus add natural features. To make a safe entry and exit for honey bees, who gather water for the hive, he added two bee exit sticks extending from the waterline. He says that his pond "provides a home base for the reintroduction of amphibians onto the property."

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Boiling Water Kills Weeds

Stephen Breyer, owner of Tripple Brook Farm nursery in Southampton, Massachusetts, does not use chemical pesticides in his operation, according to David J. Ellis ("Tripple Brook Farm," The American Gardener, May/June 1997). To control weeds, he sprays them with boiling water from a modified 40-gallon water heater that he keeps on a garden cart. After two years of this treatment, Breyer reports that he has "almost no weed problems."

When The MOF&G called Breyer for more information, he said that he fills an electric water heater with hot (120 degree) water from his home's gas water heater. The electric heater is set up with a heavy duty cord and is plugged into an outlet at a shed. Valves on the tank are opened so that pressure doesn't build. After an hour, the water has reached the boiling point.

The boiling water is applied with a watering wand that is held close to the ground to minimize heat loss and that can go as close as 2 to 3 inches to nursery plants without harming them. Preventing damage to crops "is a matter of being careful," says Breyer.

The technique is economical, costing $1.25 to $1.50 to heat a 40-gallon tank of water. Breyer says that boiling water weeding is being done increasingly com- mercially and compares favorably economically with using herbicides. Commercial boiling water units are available, and backyard models are being developed. He likes this method better than flame weeding because he uses wood chips as mulch and these, as well as many of his nursery crops, are flammable.

Tripple Brook sells native woodland plants, fruiting plants, bamboos, ornamental grasses – anything that "reflect(s) his 'personal enthusiasm for plants that are interesting, attractive, or productive,'" according to Ellis. These include 30 selections of kiwis, mulberries, groundnuts, pawpaws, pineapple guava and pomegranate – and more. For a catalog, send $2 to 37 Middle Road, Southampton, MA 01073.

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Woods End Products Finding Increasing Uses

A joint agreement has been signed between the Maine firm Woods End Research Laboratory, Inc. (Mt Vernon) and Biophyt AG (Fehraltorf, Switzerland) for cooperative development and marketing of bio-assay products for compost and soil quality. Both firms specialize in environmental consulting and laboratory analysis and have each recently developed new patented technologies for environmental diagnostic quick-tests that can be performed easily by non-technical persons. The agreement enables the firms to evaluate and market each other’s products in the respective countries.

The Biophyt AG bioassay called PHYTO-TI easily evaluates potential impacts of compost on plant growth. Woods End plans to introduce a version called PHYTO-p/us to the U.S. market. Currently, European and American regulations, where they exist, call for specific single lab tests to evaluate compost phytotoxicity. According to Dr. Fuchs and Dr. Brinton of Biophyt and Woods End, respectively, “Present laboratory approaches provide incomplete and sometimes inaccurate information for many products and this in effect may be hurting the rapidly burgeoning compost industry on both continents”. Other new products in design by Woods End and Biophyt are rapid tests for disease suppressivity, defined as the capability of soils and composts to control harmful plant disease.

Another Woods End product, the Solvita Maturity Test Kit, has been approved by the State of Minnesota Pollution Control Agency as a substitute for required laboratory compost CO2-respiration testing.

Minnesota Chapter 7035 Rules stipulate compost maturity must be verified. Two levels of maturity testing are required prior to releasing compost to the market. The first requires that compost demonstrate a 60% decomposition by ignition-loss method. The second tier provides a choice of one of five tests, including CO2-respiration.

According to Dr. Brinton of Woods End,” … not only are we pleased with the State determination but we anticipate that users will find the Solvita test both very easy and very cost-effective to perform …” The Solvita test for compost is currently required by the State of Washington DOT and is being reviewed by several other states and by the Governments of Germany, Switzerland and Denmark.

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Hair as Fertilizer

Madagascar periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus) grew better in nutrient-poor subsoil when fertilized with human hair than with sawdust, pine needles, peat moss, straw or nothing – probably because of the 18% nitrogen in hair. “So,” says HortIdeas, “10 pounds of hair (about 3 bushels!) should supply nearly 2 pounds of nitrogen. An appropriate application rate for home landscapes and gardens is 10 pounds of hair per 100 square feet – so if you want to fertilize even a moderately sized area with hair, you’d better have quite a few hair suppliers (namely, barber shops and beauty salons)!” The hair can be composted or added to the soil.

Source: HortIdeas, July 1997. Original report: Elena Victory, “A Hair Raising Experience,” Branching Out, May 1997, 3. (Chris Starbuck, Dept. of Horticulture, 1-87 Ag. Bldg., University of Missouri, Columbia MO 65211.)

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