Monthly Archives: September 2013

Viruses Are Good . . . Sometimes

I suspected, and recently confirmed, that my raspberry plants have the “flu.” Okay, not the flu (as in influenza), but a virus, in any case. The plants looked okay but they weren’t bearing their usual abundant crops. And the berries that they were bearing seemed a little crumbly.

The virus culprits were narrowed down to two possibilities, raspberry dwarf bushy virus and tomato ringspot virus. Either of these viruses may also bring on patterned yellowing of leaves, or not, depending on the raspberry variety, time of year, and other variables. (No, raspberry dwarf bushy virus does not make raspberries grow dwarf and bushy.)

Not that viruses are the only things that can make raspberries crumbly. Tarnished plant bug is an insect that feeds on developing flowers and fruits of raspberries and a slew of other plants. If too many druplets of a berry are eaten, the rest of the …

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Better than a Boxer and Goodbye to Mac

Check it out! New video up at www.youtube.com/leereichfarmden showing step-by-step preparation of weedless beds in autumn.

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Some people consider owning a Porsche Boxer to be a luxury; I consider crunching through winter snow to the greenhouse and picking a fresh head of lettuce to be a luxury. This lettuce-y luxury must be earned at a price that is more than monetary. It was a couple of weeks ago that I started paying for part of this year and next.

The goal is to harvest a head of lettuce every day from now through winter and on into next spring. That takes planning.

So at the end of August I filled a 4 by 6 inch seed flat with potting soil and sprinkled a different variety of lettuce into each of four mini-furrows. Covered with a pane of glass and watered, the seeds soon sprouted,
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Tomatoes and Corn, mmmm

And the winner is . . . (drum roll) . . . Lillian’s Yellow. Last week’s tomato growing workshop here climaxed with a tomato tasting of 15 heirloom varieties. Many of the fruits came from Four Winds Farm in Gardiner, NY, which specializes in and, in spring, sells transplants of, heirloom varieties.

In order to be semi-scientific about which heirlooms tasted best, I splayed them out on a tray, and as I sliced each variety, we tasted and rated them on a scale of 1 to 10. Occasionally we went back to tasting prior ones to see if taste buds were getting dulled or if we had started out setting the bar either to high or too low.

Lillian’s Yellow’s victory, with an average rating of 8, came as a surprise. After all, it was up against Brandywine, which is a top contender in every tomato taste-off. Carolyn Male, …

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No-Till & Compost, and Still Problems

One of the best things about no-till gardening is not having to till. The soil of my vegetable garden hasn’t been disturbed for over 2 decades. Besides avoiding the hassle of tilling, not having to till makes for quicker and easier planting.

Today, for instance, I planned to clear a bed of harvested edamame plants to make way for lettuce. Easy! I just pulled up each plant, coaxing it along, if necessary with a Hori Hori knife so that I had the tops and only the main roots in hand. Once plants were up and out, light use of a lawn rake gathered up dropped leaves, pods, and other debris, and brought what few weeds were still present into focus for removal. In 20 minutes, I had the double row of plants in a 20 foot by 3 foot wide bed cleared, and the bed cleaned up.

“Quicker and …

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