I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!
Dealing With Pests
July 10, 2017
No matter how great of a farmer one is, there are still a bunch of pests that have to be dealt with and we've all lost a crop to some type of pest no matter what we've done. So often it is forgotten that in farming we are working with nature not against it. Nature of course is impossible to control. Even in the act of controlling it, through the use of herbicides, pesticides, tillage and more, problems are created. Heavy tillage destroys the life in soil and the mycelial networks which plants need to grow strong. Herbicide use causes some weeds to grow stronger, leading to more herbicide use. Insects can develop a resistance to pesticides, leading to stronger pesticide use.
Our farm is in itself its own ecosystem. We have a wide range of birds in our pond, feasting on the fish and other aquatic life. The geese have to be kept out of the field as they sometimes eat greens, and crows tend to eat seeds just put in the ground. The voles and mice nibble on plants, sometimes destroying half a planting of early cucumbers. Groundhogs love to eat the center of each head of lettuce where the most tender parts are. Deer will eat just about anything if they find a way through the deer fence (and they spend a lot of time trying). A single mouse in the greenhouse can eat all our trays worth of squash seeds if they trays aren't covered while germinating. Fly larvae of leaf miners can destroy a garlic, onion, swiss chard or beet crop. Little bugs moving from plant to plant when it is wet outside spread fungal diseases everywhere.
Whew. It's tiring to think about those pests all at once. Managing them is part of our daily lives. We have one small field with a thinner deer fence that the deer managed to sneak through the other night, so now we change the field plan to make sure we have Fall carrots seeded somewhere they can't get to. We check our have a heart traps twice daily for groundhogs that we release on a friends farm near water away from the farm. We also tend to catch raccoons and opossums but they get let right back out to thrive another day in our woods with a bit of peanut butter in their bellies. We try to build up natural habitat so that insect predators can exist to attack the bugs eating and damaging our crops. Ladybugs and lacewings are ordered to fight the ever growing aphid population.
We all love to see the wildlife and bugs thriving on the farm. It is nice to think that we've helped to create a habitat for so many things. I see a praying mantis just about every day and while we hate cabbage moth caterpillars, watching one be devoured by a huge praying mantis is pretty cool. Here's to another season spent trying to manage the wildlife while keeping them thriving at the same time.
Just another week or two till tomatoes and peppers!! Eggplant however is here!
Harvesting the garlic
View from the Squash
Hanging the garlic to cure
Wall of garlic
Fresh Refrigerator Pickles: Cauliflower, Carrots, Cukes, You Name It
This light brine works great with many foods: cucumbers, of course, but also carrots, turnips, onions, green beans, asparagus, jalapeno chiles, even apples. And your pickles will last for weeks in the fridge (where you MUST keep them at all times or the pickles will go bad). Don't skip the step of simmering the garlic; this cooks out sulfur compounds that otherwise will cause the cloves to turn a harmless but very unappetizing blue-green color from the acid in the vinegar
Recipe courtesy of Ted Allen
2 hr 50 min
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 teaspoon mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon pink peppercorns (if you have 'em)
Several sprigs fresh dill
2 cups white vinegar
1 tablespoon salt
6 medium carrots, halved lengthwise
6 kirby cucumbers, cut lengthwise into quarters
4 hot red chiles or 2 jalapenos, whole or (for more heat) halved (optional)
4 scallions, white parts only
In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups water to a boil, reduce the heat so the water simmers and add the garlic. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the vinegar and salt, raise the heat and bring to a boil, stirring until the salt dissolves. Remove from the heat.
In 2 clear 1-quart jars, place a few sprigs of dill. Divide the seeds and peppercorns between the jars. Using tongs, remove the garlic from the brine and place 5 cloves in each jar. Then pack the jars full of cucumbers, carrots, scallions or green beans, cauliflower and chiles. You want them to be tightly stuffed.
Bring the brine back to a boil, pour it over the vegetables to cover completely, let cool, then cover and refrigerate. The pickles will taste good in just a few hours, better after a couple of days. And they'll keep for about 3 months.
Recipe courtesy Ted Allen, "In My Kitchen: 100 Recipes and Discoveries for Passionate Cooks" (Clarkson-Potter)