Monthly Archives: August 2010

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I hate to spray. That’s why last week I wrote that I’d rather snap the ends off ears of sweet corn infested with earworms rather than spray the corn to avert damage. That, despite the fact that the spray, Thuricide, isn’t poisonous to humans and most other creatures besides corn earworms and related insects. Today I had to spray, using this very material on a different plant.

Thuricide, one trade name for the bacterial insecticide Bacillus thurengiensis karstaki, or BTK, is specific against lepidopterous caterpillars. Lepidoptera is the order of insects that includes moths and butterflies (which these particular caterpillars become). Some lepidoptera, such as the swallowtails, are very beautiful. Other lepidoptera, such as those white moths that flit about cabbage, broccoli, kale, and related plants, are …

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In an hour and a half this morning, a 20’ long by 3’ wide bed of spired, aging corn stalks morphed into a bed of succulent, young greenery in the form of escarole and radicchio transplants.

Before beginning this job I harvest what ears were still ripe on the stalks. The yield from this first corn planting was small, both in quantity and size of ears. Old fashioned Golden Bantam, as told by its name, normally yields small ears — but not usually as small as the 3 to 5 inch long ears I harvested. Planting in “hills” (clusters of 4 plants) usually provides for adequate pollination, but scorching weather at a critical developmental stage might have thrown pollination awry. At any rate, with ears harvested, I lopped each …

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King Tut is alive and well, very well in fact. I’ll cut to the chase: This particular King Tut is a variety of papyrus (Cyperus papyrus) that I planted a year ago in spring. Papyrus doesn’t tolerate temperatures down to freezing, so this far north King Tut is billed as an annual. But rather than let the King die in winter, I was so smitten by him that in autumn I moved him in his pot indoors to a sunny window. There he clung to life and, with warm, sunny weather, got growing again this past spring.

In contrast to regular papyrus, which grows 5 to 9 feet tall, King Tut’s claim to fame is that he’s a dwarf, billed as rising 4 to 6 feet high. …

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Almost everyone, upon taking their first step out my back door, glances upward and says, “What are those bags for?” They’re looking at my grape arbor from which dangle bunches of grapes as well as white paper bags. To me, the purpose of the bags is obvious: to enclose some of the bunches. Perhaps the fact that not all the grapes are bagged is confusing. Perhaps people are thrown off by the inscription “Fresh Delicious Wholesome Baked Goods” printed ini bold letters on the bags, which I bought in bulk from a bakery supplier.

Grapes are a luscious treat not only to us humans, but also to birds, bees, and some furry creatures. And disease organisms, such as black rot and powdery mildew, enjoy “eating” the berries …

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