Friday, October 1, 2010

More on pesticides and peaches

Just found a whole website devoted to the dicussion of the pesticide issue I reference in an August posting.
I have said it before but will say it again-farmers exposed to the undiluted fresh pesticides are living longer and healthier lives than consumers exposed to the diluted and environmentally degraded pesticides. I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that people aren't getting enough pesticides, but that would be a more logical jump than the one people are making.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden Talk

Here are all my posted newsarticles.
Use this link for youtube videos on gardening and lawns (Look for the one labeled Lawns.)
Here is a link to Vegetable Gardening Guide
More info on vegtables;

Monday, August 2, 2010

Blueberry picking

Once when we were kids, Dad drove us over to a swamp near Norman where we got to picking blueberries. We fill all our buckets and then emptied the 5 gallon water cooler and filled that. That was our first experience in that particular patch. There was Mom and several kids and I think we spend several hours at it. I guess we did fairly well given our inexperience and the berries we were picking.
The other afternoon, I left work and started picking my blueberries by 6 pm. I took a break and wound up watching close to 30 minutes of world news. I got started again and by 8:23 pm I had picked 5 gallons. I guess this is the most I have ever picked on my property. Friday I picked another 1and 3/4 gallons and guess I spend less than an hour doing it. Those sold for $4 a pint at the market.

An itchy bed

Found this little fellow while picking okra. He felt at home. My slight movement of the leaves didn't disturb him enough to cause him to leave.

Misguided Journalism

Every year during my peach season the misguided members of the Environmental Working Group promote a list of fruits and vegetables to buy organic. This mis-information is picked up by well respected publications. For example, here is Prevention magazines’ version.
This article has issues.
The first fallacy is that organic means pesticide free. Organic doesn't mean pesticide free. See a list of 1700 approved chemicals here: . Some of the organic pesticides require more personal protective equipment than conventional pesticides for the same plant disease. Other organic pesticides require longer re-entry intervals. Compare the label on this organic pesticide (currently being recommended for downy mildew on cucumbers)
with this conventional product being used for the same purpose
The second fallacy is that somehow the toxicologists are wrong and the dilute, environmentally degraded pesticides at the consumer level will cause some type of damage. Meanwhile the fresh, concentrated pesticide is not affecting the manufactures, commercial applicators or farmers. The commercial applicators are mixing and applying the fresh, concentrated pesticides every day in season. The farmers also mix, apply, repair pesticide spray machinery, get fresh concentrated pesticides on their skin and clothes and live their working lives in the fields and orchard where the fresh pesticides are sprayed. Thankfully, the toxicologists are not wrong. In fact, the farmers and commercial applicators live longer and healthy lives than the average consumer. The Agricultural Health Study is probably the latest up to date source of this information. . I have followed this study since enrolling about 200 local farmers in the study when it first started. Each year of the study, I feel more confident that pesticides are not a problem for consumers.
This article found somebody that always peels their peaches before sampling. That is meaningless but if it makes a difference to you, I sample in excess of 300 peaches every year without peeling or washing the skin. I do this when I come to a broke limb and have to figure out if the peaches had time to ripen before the limb broke. I sample one and know whether to pick or abandon the rest. (By sample number 200 or so when I wish to know how good a peach is, I just taking a bite out of the center and discarding the rest. My mom would probably be upset if she caught me.)
Even if you wish to continue to accept the premise of thier pointless article, I hope you don't worry about my products. My blueberries have never been sprayed with insecticides or fungicides. I have used weedkillers in nearby areas, but never on the actual plants or even as a broadcast spray around the blueberry plants. As of August 1 2010, it has been 46 days since I sprayed an insecticide on my peaches. There have been 9 rain events during that time. As long as 30 days ago (July 15) honeybees were foraging on my peaches with no problem. I have insects from at least 5 different orders in my orchard right this minute.
I am sure the needless worry caused by irresponsible and lazy “journalism” in articles like this is no fun for the person going through it. However, the real damage caused by articles like this is the reduction in healthy food consumption. Fresh vegetables and fruits are the good guys. Eat them. There is no scientific reason to pay higher prices for fruits and vegetables labeled organic. If higher organic prices will keep you from consuming fruits and vegetables than buy conventional fruit and vegetables, preferably from local conscientious farmers like me.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Way Grandpa Did it

Every once in a while I hear people say they want to farm the way Grandpa did it. I don't think some of them could hold up to it. Grandpa lived 9 miles out of Mt Gilead. If he wanted the plow fixed , he toted it to town. Got there by the time the blacksmith opened at 7 am. Got back home and hitched up the mule by 9 am and plowed till dark. Once he had a toothache all day Sunday. On Monday he was in Mt Gilead by the time the dentist opened at 7 am, got his tooth pulled, then home by 9 am, and plowed the rest of the day. And he never let the dentist use any anesthesia because he didn't have time to be whoozy behind the plow. Grandpa would chop in the fields until he almost quit sweating. When the waterboy came from the spring with a gallon of water, Grandpa would drink the entire gallon. Sweat would drip in a solid stream from his elbow until it cooled him back down. And he would keep chopping. He didn't have caffeine to get him started in the morning or a fan to cool him down at night. Other than a linament that smelled like turpentine, all his medicine came from plants he found in the woods. For arthritis he stuck his hand in a beehive and took a few stings. He pulled his oldest girl out of school by 9th grade to help on the farm. Or to be more accurate, he pulled her out to sleep. She was already working on the farm and doing homework in addition to farm chores was causing severe sleep deprivation. He put is oldest boy to work at the sawmill at age 13. His wife would work the fields too, leaving the youngest on a blanket at the end of the row, the next oldest watching the youngest, the next oldest hauling water, and the rest of the children working. They did it all about 3 steps ahead of malnutrition and about six steps ahead of starvation. I have no interest in farming like grandpa did it.

Sweet Cherry Harvest 2010

One days harvest. I was actually stopped by a severe rainfall and came back the following week to pick the rest of them. I have 3 sweet cherry trees.

What have I been doing this summer

This is a sorting table for my CSA. I started a small 14 member CSA with once a week deliveries. It has been lots of fun and more profitable than farmers markets.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Some boys are harder to raise than others.

The last picture shows the impact with the culvert that started the cartwheeling. If you knew where to look you could see the second, third and fourth impact in the previous picture. Impacts were in the following order: front right wheel, front left bumper, drivers side front and passenger side rear. The top picture shows the violence of the drivers side impact. The blood in the side ditch is 21 feet beyond the point where the car landed. The young man ejected from back window is expected to eventually recover from a broke neck. It hasn't been determined if his stupidity is cureable or terminal.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A pitiful looking woodpile

The pile to the left only has two rows left. I had planned to have almost 3 rows left this time of the year but the cold weather has increased the amount of wood I have burnt. This view gives a fairly good overview of my wood burning set up. I can back a truck up to the wood splitter or on back to the pile. I can also approach the stove directly from the right and when the yard is dry, I don't mind driving up on the lawn side. The wood splitter is permanently located at this site. The wheelbarrow covers the engine when the splitter is not in use. Once the wood is split, it is stacked. I burn from one side of a center aisle and stack the green on the other side to dry a year. Next year I will switch. The outdoor furnace is located behind the pile. The ashes are temporarily stored beside the stove and later spread on the garden or orchard. With this outdoor furnace I can burn junk wood like pine, elm or sweet gum. Some years I heat the entire season with junk wood. This year I have burnt some very good oak and was thankful for every pound of it. Over the last 15 years about 1/3 of the wood has come off my land with the other 2/3rds salvaged from some place or the other. I have not paid directly for any wood, although repairing my chain saw this year set me back a little. The only bad thing is the amount of smoke I create. I calculate it at 200 lbs a year with about 100 lbs of that leaving my property. I guess I have created that much smoke from a single brush fire, but it is still something to think about.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Bad Day in Termite Land

The rice looking stuff on the log splitter is actually termites. These fell out of a section of firewood as I split it. There were several more cracks in each section filled with termites. At least 4 sections has this many termites, with smaller numbers in some additional sections. Overall it was the largest termite colony I have ever seen. I suspect the tree had come down in Hurricane Fran. Any part laying on the ground was too far gone for wood burning but the main trunk was bridged off the groun and the heartwood was still solid enough to make burning worthwhile.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Maple Syrup harvest 2010

This year I started tapping the southern sugar maples on January 8. Flow was finished by February 1. My yield per tree seemed down a little but I tapped some extra trees. So overall I had my best year cooking down at least 2 gallons of maple syrup. It is hard to be precise because some of it hasn't been cooked completely down. I cooked it down to a point and then sealed it in quart jars where it can settle. When I run out of syrup, I will carefully pour off the top and cook it down to put in half pint jars. I use some maple syrup as I am cooking it off which also throws off the estimate. I normally just use it for breakfast on oatmeal. But this year I also cooked a maple pecan loaf. I enjoyed it, but think I can do better. Last year I had 1 and 1/2 gallons of syrup. I gave about 1/2 gallon away and the other gallon lasted just about the entire year. I didn't use any of it for cooking. My plan this year is to give 1/2 gallon away, eat one gallon on oatmeal and use the other 1/2 gallon for cooking. My wife still doesn't like it so it looks like I won't have to share any with her.