July 30, 2013 - Kim’s Weekly Garden Newsletter
From Kim Willis
These weekly garden notes are written by Kim Willis, unless another author is noted, and the opinions expressed in these notes are her opinions and do not represent any other individual, group or organizations opinions.
I had some nice rain over the last few days, about 9/10 of an inch. It was needed but I am glad the sun is out today. I love the cooler weather and I hope it lasts the rest of the summer. Just the few days of rain, plus the week or two of weather too hot and humid to garden in gave the weeds around my place a big boost and I am working to catch up.
|The lily Silk Road.|
We have had lots of new potatoes from the garden, sampling different types at each meal. I love to put washed new potatoes in a microwave safe bowl with a pat of real butter and a tablespoon or so of margarine,( to lower the fat a little) and sprinkle on some garlic and onion powder. Then I cover with plastic wrap and cook them for about 20 minutes. They are so delicious.
I am getting excited about my sweet corn. The ears look great and we should be eating it by the end of the week. Even though I planted early, mid and late varieties of corn and planted the early corn two weeks before the rest, it looks like it will all be getting ready at once. We’ll be freezing it I guess. I heard that there is a “new method” of freezing sweet corn, right in the husk. If any of you have tried this and it works well let me know.
A man stopped by the other day and asked if we wanted some zucchini. He was carrying around a big bunch on his truck seat, asking people if they wanted it. I have to laugh whenever I see people doing this. I don’t like zucchini and don’t grow it. But so many people grow way too many plants,( which is always more than one). It does make good bread and cakes but I guess people had to come up with some way to use all the excess.
I had a few raspberries from my new plants and they were very good. Looking forward to a bigger harvest nest year.
|Cardinal Climber vine|
The flowers are beautiful right now too. I have a cardinal vine (see a link to an article below under more information) that has gone wild this summer; it is covering a great deal of fence and its very pretty. It’s another example of common names that get plant species mixed up, I bought it labeled Cypress vine, which is actually a relative.
The phlox and lilies are making the garden smell really good right now and everywhere I go I see beautiful hydrangeas and Rose of Sharon plants in bloom. The beebalm seems to be having a spectacular year too and that is one flower the hummingbirds really seem to love. I sit out in the evening and watch them fighting over it.
The $15,000 vegetable garden
I read an article in Sunday’s Detroit Free Press that made me mad and laugh at the same time. The article in the Section titled House Envy was about a woman’s new “raised bed” vegetable garden in Grosse Pointe Farms. I sure didn’t envy it. This mediocre looking 18 x13 foot garden cost her $15,000 dollars to build! Of course a landscaper built it for her. The picture shows one big box, like a giant sandbox, and a weird arbor like structure at the entrance. There was a single rail, maybe some wire fence around it.
The woman bragged that she saved thousands of dollars by using green wood incased in composite, whatever that is. And now she could grow 5 kinds of tomatoes with all of this room! Plus lots of basil and other things. Of course each tomato she gets from that garden will cost a hundred dollars at least, but what the heck- she went green! I just wonder if the $15,000 includes a gardener’s salary, although she brags about family time in the garden too.
I just hope that people reading the article don’t think you have to be rich to afford a vegetable garden, especially a raised bed garden, which this really didn’t qualify as. A really nice raised bed garden shouldn’t cost you more than a few hundred dollars. It could be much less. If you’d like to read the article go here;
Food safety at the farmers market
When you buy produce at the farmers market make sure you wash it before eating it. This is particularly true of produce you don’t peel or cook before eating. Even if it is labeled organic it should be washed. Think of how many people handle produce at the farmers market- where have their hands been? It’s tempting to eat a few berries or a peach on the way home but it’s probably better to resist the urge.
And in the summer heat eggs you buy at the farmers market should have been kept in a cooler. While eggs don’t spoil right away they can develop unhealthy quantities of salmonella, especially because some sellers think people are more likely to buy their eggs if they are unwashed, in warm weather. Even washed eggs can have salmonella inside them and that’s why we cook all eggs until they are not “runny.”
Farm markets are loaded with produce right now. You’ll find tomatoes small and slicing, peppers, summer squash, early cabbage, new potatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, greens of many types, carrots, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, green beans and even some early sweet corn. Summer raspberries are pretty much done but blueberries and peaches are on the market. You may even find some summer ripening apples, such as Lodi, on the market soon. Melons and grapes are still not ripe locally.
By the way there’s a new Farmers Market on Wednesdays in Clifford, at the old grain elevator on the north side of town.
August is check your trees month
|Asian Longhorn Beetle- US Forest Service photo|
The USDA is asking everyone to get out and check the trees in your yard, along the roads, in parks and fields this August. You’ll be looking for signs of the Asian Longhorn beetle but it’s a good time to look for other problems too.
The Asian Longhorn beetle, Anoplophora glabripennis, is not a new pest; it’s been in the US since an infestation was discovered in New York in 1998. It’s thought to have arrived in shipping pallets from Asia. So far infestations have been found in 5 states over the years, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Illinois and Ohio. When it’s found the USDA goes all out to eradicate the pest. But the fact that it continues to pop up from time to time is worrisome. All states east of the Rockies are at risk with states close to infected states, such as Michigan, at increased risk.
Unlike the Emerald Ash Borer, the Asian Longhorn Beetle attacks many species of native and non-native deciduous trees including maples,(and box elders), ash, horse chestnut, willow, elm, birch, sycamore, hackberry, mimosa, poplar, katsura, mountain ash, apple, cherry, plums, pears, mulberry, Rose of Sharon, oaks, black locust and basswood. In Asia Russian Olive is heavily attacked but no Russian Olive trees have yet been found to have the beetle in the US. If the beetle were to get established it would wipe out most of our forest and landscape trees.
The Asian Longhorn beetle, (ALB), is a long, ¾ to 1 ¼ inch long beetle with long black and white banded antennae. The antennae are curved and longer than the beetles body. The body (back) is black with irregular white spotting and has a glossy look. The neck is solid black. The legs have a blue look. The beetles can fly but don’t like to and can be seen feeding on host trees from spring to a hard fall frost.
Many native wood borers look similar to ALB which can be a problem. While these pests are damaging they do have natural controls. The most common beetle look alike turned in to me when I was at Extension was the cottonwood borer, which has all black antennae and white areas on the neck.
The beetles prefer trees with more than a 4 inch diameter but have been found on smaller trees. They leave scars on trees when they deposit eggs. Like the Emerald borer ALB larvae feed in the trees cambium layer, disrupting food and water flow, eventually killing the tree. They live for about nine months inside the tree, and then emerge as adults. The hole they leave behind is dime sized and perfectly round, as if someone used a drill on the tree.
When inspecting trees look for raised, brown or yellow scarred areas on trunks and branches, the dime sized exit holes, piles of sawdust like material on the ground or in the crotches of branches and the adult beetles. Trees infested will likely have dead branches, especially near the top, look unhealthy, and many will have sprouts appearing at the base of the tree.
Michigan’s efforts to control the Emerald Ash borer were largely ineffectual because we decided not to cut down and destroy infected trees early in the game. Quarantines were slow in coming and not enforced well enough. However all the states that have found ALB have rapidly destroyed trees and quarantined large areas around them. This has already eliminated them in 3 state originally affected. Canada also had ALB but they instituted a strict removal and quarantine policy that allowed them to declare the pest eradicated this year.
Like EAB, saving a tree involves expensive systemic insecticide injections and from my reading, it isn’t quite as effective with ALB. Therefore prevention is the key. And like EAB, this beetle is primarily transported to new areas by humans, usually in firewood. Don’t transport firewood; buy firewood where you intend to have a fire. Fire will destroy the larvae, but some wood always seems to be left unburned at campsites.
If you think you have spotted ALB in Michigan here is the person to contact, Robin R. Rosenbaum, Plant Industry Section Manager, Pesticide and Plant Pest Mgmt. Division Michigan Department of Agriculture, P. O. Box 30017, Lansing, MI 48909. Phone 517-335-6542 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you capture a beetle you can put it in a jar with rubbing alcohol or freeze it and send it to MSU Diagnostic Center. Call your local Extension office to see if they can help, but if they can’t or won’t, call 517-355-4536 or go to http://www.pestid.msu.edu/ for more information. Be advised they will probably charge you for the ID so it might be better to call MDA first.
Fungicides and bees
We may need to start thinking differently about the way plant fungicides affect insects especially bees. The traditional thinking is that fungicides kill fungi, and they don’t harm insects. The use of insecticides on crops while bees are pollinating is often banned, but there is no restriction on using fungicides. It’s true that fungicides don’t kill insects outright but new research suggests that being exposed to fungicides does impact bees and other pollinators.
When bees are exposed to the common fungicide chlorothalonil, ( Daconil) they are three times more likely to have Nosema ceranae, a bee parasite linked to colony collapse disorder, according to Jeff Pettis, research leader of the USDA's Bee Research Laboratory. It’s thought that fungicide exposure lowers the bee’s immune system and it also affects the brains of bees.
Bees continue to live and function in the hive but not as well as the bees not exposed. Some researchers report that bees exposed to fungicides often “get lost” or have other memory impairment. The miticide bee keepers use to control Varroa mites also affects bee health in many of the same ways.
Some crops, such as tomatoes, are rarely pollinated by insects and it is probably safer to use fungicides on those crops. However, using any pesticides, including organic ones and homemade remedies always needs to be carefully thought out on the part of the gardener. Nothing, even soap and water, is totally harmless, if it was why are you using it?
Revolutionizing modern agriculture
Nitrogen is a nutrient all plants need and it is used up rapidly or lost from the soil so it is often supplied to plants by gardeners and farmers by using various types of fertilizers from manure to synthetic fertilizers. However nitrogen is a major pollutant in our environment. It converts to nitrates in the environment which are a major health issue in ground water and cause dead areas of surface water. It converts to ammonia and oxides which pollute the atmosphere.
Some plants are able to supply their own needs for nitrogen by pulling nitrogen from the air. This includes alfalfa, beans, peas and even the pesky Autumn Olive. But most major crops require heavy nitrogen fertilization, especially corn, a major world crop. What if we could eliminate nitrogen applications to crops in a simple, environmentally safe way?
A research professor, Professor Edward Cocking, Director of The University of Nottingham's Centre for Crop Nitrogen Fixation( in the UK) may have found a way to revolutionize agriculture and vastly reduce the need for nitrogen fertilizers. The researchers at the facility found a naturally occurring bacteria on sugar cane, that when applied to seeds of any crop, will penetrate the seed and allow every cell the new plant makes to get nitrogen from the air.
The new product has been named N-Fix and is patented. Research in closed facilities has been very successful in all major crop plants and field trials are beginning. The process of extracting the bacteria and coating seeds is relatively cheap, environmentally safe and doesn’t affect food safety, flavor or quality of plants grown from coated seeds. This is not genetic engineering, genes of the plant are not changed, they just form a symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relationship with bacteria.
This product sounds almost too good to be true, but if further trials work out this could be a major turning point in feeding the world while reducing pollution. Current estimates are that the product could be on the market in 3 years.
Enjoy some new potatoes with butter this week.
Garden as though you will live forever. William Kent
Here’s a new article on Examiner you may enjoy reading
How to grow Cardinal Climber vine
If you would like to grow a vine that is pretty, easy to grow, and attracts hummingbirds and butterflies try the Cardinal Climber (Ipomoea sloteri.) This vine is a cross between two plants native to the southern part of North America and Central America, the Cypress Vine (Ipomoea quamoclit) and the Scarlet Morning glory (Ipomoea coccinea). It’s an annual vine but in some cases it will re-seed and return in the garden for many years, just like Morning Glories. Read more at :