Let’s Eat

This is to good not to pass on: EatingWell website – Green Pizza Recipe
eatingwell green pizza Because occasionally pizza is just a vessel for some of our favorite cool-weather green veggies.

Kartofflepuffer/German Potato pancakes Author: West Virginia Mountain Mama on WordPress blog.
Jolynn said “For our family of two adults and one child, we usually only need 3 Med sized russet potatoes but when the kids are here I use about 5/6 potatoes and double everything.”

Sorry West Virginia Mountain Mama, I have amended your basic recipe to feed 1 old guy and spiced with the spices mostly used in Southwest Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle.
*One old fat guy adjustments to basic recipe.
3 washed, peeled and shredded potatoes *1 medium size potato
1 egg slightly beaten *1 extra small Bantam egg
1/2 of a med onion *1 table spoon fine chopped onion or pinch onion powder and pinch garlic powder
1/4 cup of flour, if using more potatoes I increase this to 1/3 but no more
*1 or 2 tablespoon flour or Bisquick mix
1 tablespoon veg oil *1 teaspoon olive oil
3/4 to 1 teaspoon salt *1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry parsley flakes *1/4 teaspoon dry basil or oregano
pepper to taste *1/2 small jalapeno pepper de-seeded, finely chopped
oil or fat for frying *olive oil and 1 pat unsalted butter
*Keep warm in preheated oven 180F
*Serve topped with fried, runny, over easy or scrambled eggs.

N5UJB – Silent Key Alert

Jim – Jimmy Wayne “N5UJB” Arterberry Sr. 77, of Lawton, Oklahoma went to his heavenly home on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016.

Jim was not only my Amateur Radio Elmer and mentor, Jim was most of all my friend.
I shall miss his presents in my life.

Funeral service will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, at Post Oak Mennonite Brethren Church, Indiahoma, Oklahoma.

Jimmy was born in Indiahoma on May 4, 1938.
Jimmy was a member and former president/test administrator of the Lawton Fort Sill Amateur Radio Club.

Jimmy is survived by his wife, Beatrice “Sue” Arterberry, and daughter, Kathy D. Daniel, both of the home; sons: Jimmy W. Arterberry Jr. of Medicine Park; and Ricky D. Arterberry of Indiahoma.
Sisters: Minnie Rhodes of Cache; Dodie Farrell of Lawton; Linda Carol Carter of Chickasha; Liz Adamson of Lawton; stepbrother, Frankie Barkley Jr. of Texas; and stepsister, Penny Grooms of Rush Springs; brothers-in-law and Sisters-in-law: Howard and Susie Roach of Cache; Harley Roach of Indiahoma; Arlene Wilson and Linda Roach of Indiahoma; and Virgie Kassanavoid of Cache; Six grandchildren: Vanessa Huff, Steven Arterberry, Ricky Arterberry Jr., Joshua Arterberry, Brook Robello, Zack Daniel
Eleven great grandchildren: Faith, Caleb, Zoey, Lincoln, Jackson, Aspynn, Hinley, Kixx, Kendall, Kameron, and Savannah.

Dirty Bugs – Give Them A Soapy Bath

DIY-key latch DIY door latch using an unused house door key.

Not all soap is created equal for soap to most effective it must contain Detergent. Many of the dish washing soaps no longer contain detergent and are far less effective in killing / removing insects from your garden plants. I use original formula Blue Dawn dish soap, it has worked well for me in the past.
Read the label carefully before investing your time and effort in treating you garden for insect pest by soap washing. Soap without detergents is not very effective.

You will find a number of soaps formulated for insect control at your local nursery. These products are most times expensive and may not be worth the investment.

I have not used dog / pet soaps but have been told that they work well when used as an insect killer / removal plant washing mix. I would use caution when selecting a pet soap. Read the label ingredients carefully. Pet soaps may very well contain chemicals that you do not want in your vegetable garden.

Not only will soap wash away and kill many garden pest it will also help your soil absorb water more effectively by breaking down soil surface tension allowing water to penetrate your soil with less wasted run off water. I have found that using 1/4 cup of Blue Dawn dish per gallon of water works very well in insect control.
Hint: Fill your container with water ‘Before’ adding the soap.

Whether you use a simple soapy water spray or a commercial store bought insecticide, Always carefully wash all garden vegetables under cool running water before feeding them to your family.

Colorado State University has a good fact sheet on using soap for insect control. Insect Control: Soaps and Detergents

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Growing Pepper – FAQ – And More

If you are new, a novice or experienced Pepper grower this Pepper FAQ list is for you.

1. Q. Why do my pepper plants often bloom but fail to set fruit?

A. Peppers, like tomatoes, are sensitive to temperature. Most peppers will drop their blooms when daytime temperatures get much above 90 degrees F sometimes in combination with night temperatures above 75 degrees F. They will also drop their blooms in the early spring if temperatures remain cool for extended periods.
Hot peppers, such as jalapenos, withstand hot weather fairly well and can often produce fruit through the summer in most areas.
Optimum temperatures fall between 70 degrees and 80 degrees F. for bell-type peppers and between 70 degrees and 85 degrees F. for hot varieties.

2. Q. If I remove the first few blooms on a pepper plant, will my overall production be increased?

A. Maybe. Occasionally, if a bell pepper plant sets the first bloom that flowers, the plant will be stunted as it matures that fruit. This is likely to happen if the plant is growing under marginal conditions which might include low fertility or perhaps low moisture. With the first bloom removed, the plant will grow larger before setting fruit which often does result in higher total yields.
However, if the plant is grown under satisfactory cultural conditions removing the first bloom should not affect subsequent yield.

3. Q. If you plant hot peppers beside sweet peppers, will the sweet pepper plant produce hot fruit?

A. Absolutely not. Pepper flowers are self-pollinated, although occasionally cross-pollinate. The result of this cross pollination will appear only if seed is saved from this year’s crop and planted next year.
It will not result in off flavor or differences in fruit characteristics of this year’s crop.

4. Q. Can I cut back my spring planted pepper plants in late summer or early fall for increased production later?

A. Yes, although this is not a recommended practice. In the northern parts of the United States spring planted pepper plants can often be carried through to first killing frost without pruning.
In southern parts, judiciously pruning the pepper plants and applying additional fertilizer as a side-dress application can prolong pepper production until the first killing frost.
Pruning should not be severe in southern states as excess foliage removal can often result in sunburn, stunting or death of the plants.

5. Q. Is there any difference in taste or nutritive value between green peppers and those that mature and turn red?

A. Peppers that are allowed to mature and ripen entirely, from green to yellow to red, are higher in vitamin content, especially vitamin A. There is little difference in taste although there is a considerable difference in texture caused by the ripening process.

6. Q. How can you tell when jalapeno peppers are mature?

A. Jalapeno peppers are edible and flavorful at all stages of their growth. A connoisseur of jalapeno peppers can distinguish a definite flavor difference between a fully mature jalapeno and one harvested early. A fully mature jalapeno pepper, regardless of size, generally exhibits small cracks around the shoulders of the fruit. Often a darkened area on the fruit indicates maturity and the initial stages of a color change in the fruit.

7. Q. Can I save seed from this year’s pepper crop for planting in my next garden?

A. Yes. Peppers are self-pollinated I recommend saving seed from this year’s garden for planting in next year’s garden.
Although an occasional cross-pollination will occur, this is generally not a problem. Do not save seed from hybrid pepper plants as these will revert to one of it’s parent plants gene pool. This will result in plants exhibiting characteristics different than the desired hybrid.

8. Q. The foliage on my pepper plants developed spots or lesions and the leaves have dropped off.

A. This could be a combination of three foliage diseases: Alternaria leaf spot, Cercospora leaf spot and bacterial leaf spot. In most cases, two or more of these occur simultaneously on the foliage. They can be controlled with foliar sprays using a combination of chlorothalanoil and Kocide or any other copper based fungicide.
Begin treatment at the first sign of the disease and continue at 1 to 2 week intervals until the fungus / disease in cured or under control.

9. Q. The foliage and fruit of my pepper plants are distorted and small. The leaves have a mosaic pattern.

A. This could be one of five viruses that attack peppers. The best control is to buy healthy plants and to follow approved cultural practices and a good insecticide program. The viruses are transmitted by aphids. For this reason, it is important to control insects. Also, when a plant becomes infected with one of the viruses, remove the plant, bag and send to the landfill, Do Not put infected plants in your compost pile.

10. Q. After the recent rainfall, my plants wilted and died. The inner stems of the plants were dark.

A. This is Phytophthora stem rot. It is a soilborne fungus that attacks peppers. It is particularly severe in areas where water stands around the plant. Plant on a raised bed for optimal drainage.

11. Q. After a summer rain, my pepper plants died rapidly. I found a white growth at the base of the plant. Intermingled with this growth were small, round, bead-like structures the size of a pinhead.

A. This is southern blight, caused by a soilborne fungus. Crop rotation and deep burial of organic material will help control it. Do not allow leaves / plant litter to collect around the base of the plant because the fungus will feed on them and later develop on the peppers.

12. Q. There are small wiggly trails all over the leaves of my pepper plants. What are these?

A. These trails are caused by leaf miners. Heavy infestations can defoliate plants and reduce yields. Control this pest by treating with diazinon or a recommended insecticide. Two or three applications at 5-7 day intervals may be necessary to achieve control. Use as directed on the pesticide label.

13. Q. We have just moved to this area and enjoy the Mexican food. What makes Mexican food so hot? Is it the pepper they add?

A. The cooks add pepper alright but not the black stuff you shake from a can – they add green (hot) peppers, Capsicum annum. These peppers contain a chemical named capsaicin. When you eat these “green bullets from hell” there’s a cellular response that releases neurotransmitters. These are proteins that mimic chemically the sensation of burning or pain. They go to the end plate of our sensory nerves and create the sensation of pain. The body’s response is to remove the chemical irritant by increasing heart rate to increase metabolism, by increasing salivation and increasing sweating. Your nose runs and the gastrointestinal tract goes to work in high gear to remove the irritant. You sweat to cool yourself.

14. Q. Can good pickled jalapenos be made from garden grown jalapeno peppers?

A. Yes, if you do not have a good recipe, Search pickling peppers.

15. Q: We have 2 bell pepper plants, in containers, that have until recently been very healthy and produced several beautiful peppers. Within the last week or two the peppers have developed small round tannish spots on the some of the fruit. The fruit were not fully developed, but we harvested then in order to save the fruit, if possible. In cleaning the fruit, the only damage is the small spot or two on the bottom of the peppers. I thought perhaps it was sunscald, but these plants have plenty of leaves. Could they be getting too much sun and would moving them to a shadier location help?

A: Tan or translucent spots on developing pepper fruit is DEFINITELY sunscald. All the young pepper has to be exposed to is a few minutes of direct sun during the hottest part of the day and that does it. Remember the last time you burned your body parts the first sun exposure of the spring?! The same situation! If you can see the pepper on the plant SO CAN THE SUN and it is not protected. A bacterial spot would be black so you can rule that out. You did right by removing the fruit; such removal may stimulate more foliage growth and subsequently more fruit protection.

CLASSIFICATION: There are over 20 species of pepper but only one is commonly known to North American gardeners, Capsicum annuum. This species contains the pepper varieties widely cultivated in North America. Although Hortus lists five groups within the C. annuum species.

SWEET PEPPERS: Bell Pepper, this pepper is mostly blocky in shape with three or four lobes on the bottom of the pepper. For years, gardeners could choose only one color of bell, a green that matured to red, Through modern breeding efforts e can now grow bell peppers that mature to an artist’s palette of colors including red, yellow, orange, lavender, purple and chocolate. The bell peppers have a crisp, thick flesh and are suitable for eating fresh, stir frying or stuffing and baking.

Paprika When dried and ground, this thin walled pepper becomes the flavorful condiment paprika.

Pimiento is a heart shaped pepper measures 3 1/2 by 4 1/2 inches. Fruits have very thick flesh. Strips of this fully mature, bright red, mild tasting pepper are found in stuffed green olives.

Sweet Banana, Sweet Hungarian, Cubanelle all of these are also referred to as sweet frying or pickling peppers. The shape is long, narrow tapering down to one, two or three lobes. These are thinner walled than bells and Cubanelle has the thinnest walls of the three. They are usually picked when immature as a light yellow or green. Because they have less water content than bells, they are excellent choices for frying. ‘Sweet Banana’ is a variety that has withstood the test of time, it was a 1941 All America Selections Winner. ‘Gypsy,’ a 1981 AAS Winner is early to matures in only 62 days and performs very well in containers as well as in regular gardens.

Sweet Cherry is a pepper that looks like its name in that it is globe or cherry shaped and about 1 1/2 inches across. This pepper is harvested when mature green to deep red and is generally processing as pickled.

HOT PEPPERS: Cayenne pepper is slim and tapered, ranging in length from 3 1/2 to 8 inches. Cayennes are often dried. The hybrid ‘Super Cayenee’ is a 1990 All American Selections Winner. It is very productive, early to mature and hot, hot, hot.

Red Chili the small cone-shape peppers of this type are 1 to 3 inches long and have medium thick flesh. They are often used dried and ground in chili powder. ‘Super Chili,’ a 1988 AAS Winner is the first hybrid chili. The compact plants were bred for increased yields.

Green Chili are long (7 to 8 inch) green, two celled mildly pungent Anaheim type peppers that are so flavorful in chile rellenos. They turn red at maturity but are nearly always harvested, green, roasted and peeled. They’re the kind you’ll find in the canned goods section of supermarkets labeled “Green Chile Peppers.”

Hungarian Yellow Wax (also called Hot Banana) this pepper is pungent but still one of the more mild “hots.” It is 5 to 6 inches long and picked when an immature greenish yellow color but matures to orangish red. This type is good for pickling or canning.

Jalapeno are the popular peppers used in many Mexican entrees. They are 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 inches long and have a thick walled pungent flesh. They may be harvested when immature green or mature red and are good for pickling or canning. There are many varieties of jalapeno peppers with varying degrees of pungency. It has been said that more than 200,000 pounds of jalapeno seed is planted in Mexico annually.

Red Cherry a hot pepper is only 1 1/2 inches across and shaped like a cherry. It may be used fresh or pickled, primarily pickled.

Red Hot Pepper types are other Capsicum annuum in the Longum Group that add distinct flavor to their native regional cuisines. These vary in plant and fruit size and shape. Smaller plants are attractive in patio containers and hanging baskets. These scorchers such as Chili Tepine, Chile Peguin, Tabasco, and Thai, mature red and zest-up foods. Small hot yellow peppers like Cascabella and Santa Fe Grande are used primarily for canning and pickling. Is one of the hotter Serrano type that is popular in the Southwest.
Then there is Habanero, said to be 50 times hotter than Jalapeno peppers.

NUTRITION: Peppers are the right food for people seeking a healthy, nutritious diet. Low in calories, high in Vitamins A and C, peppers are also high in a very important mineral, potassium. One cup of raw sweet green peppers contains 22 calories. For comparison a cup of cucumber is 16, cottage cheese is 223 and a whole orange is about 41 calories.

A red sweet or hot pepper contains about ten times more vitamin A and double the amount of Vitamin C than an immature green pepper. A 100 gram serving of red hot peppers eaten raw contains 369 milligrams of Vitamin C. The same serving size of sweet raw green pepper contains 128 milligrams, about one third less.

Whether green or red a pepper contains more Vitamin C than a whole orange which contains only about 50 milligrams. For potassium rich foods, an average banana contains 370 milligrams and a cup of green sweet pepper has 213 mg raw and 149 mg if boiled before being eaten.

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USDA Hardness Zone 6 & 7, Up Coming Projects

Only 40 more days of Winter ‘with luck’ , Equinox (Spring) arrives on my Tiny Farm Saturday, March 19, 2016 at 11:30 PM CDT. My last average Frost date is April 10th.
As of this morning my 2 inch and 4 inch soil temperatures were 45F and 46F. That is the signal that I can soon safely start putting out Garlic and Onion sets. Start planting Lettuce, Peas, Radish, Turnips, Spinach and Beet seed can be planted.

If the air temperature gets warm enough I will venture out into the garden and finish fall clean up. I still have plant litter to burn and some materials to be put on the compost pile. Gas up the tiller and ready seed beds for planting this springs vegetable crops.

As a side note, I discovered 4 potato’s sprouting in my potato bin. My soil is not well suited for growing potato’s but I do have four 6 gallon buckets that will be recycled and used as potato growing containers this year.
I know Master Gardeners say “don’t plant sprouting supermarket potato’s.” However it’s either plant them or they will be chicken food!
Smiling, hard to find anything better than fresh new potato’s to compliment a mess of fresh picked peas or beans.

Projects that may not be on your radar.
Zone 6
* Sow seeds in starter pots for Spring planting.
* Prune fruit/nut trees, grape vines, rose bushes and berry patches to remove winter damage.
* Feed cool-season lawns.
** If you use a preeminence lawn treatment to prevent weed seed from germinating February is a good time to make that treatment. Carefully follow package instruction for proper application.
* Removing winter mulch and lightly cultivating soil.
* Sow seeds for cool weather vegetables (late February to mid-March)
* Sow frost-tolerant perennials indoors.
* Divide and replant summer and fall blooming perennials(when soil is warm enough to be easy to work).
* Plant bare root and container roses, trees and fruiting vines.

Zone 7
* Sow seeds of warm-season annuals in starter pots.
* Set out summer flowering bulbs
* Plant fall blooming bulbs
* Plant balled-and-burlapped, container, and bare root fruit trees and fruiting vines.
* Apply dormant spray to fruit trees before buds swell.
* Spray apples, peaches, and pears that have been affected with canker problems.
* Plant seedlings of cool-weather vegetables(check your soil temperature).
* Sow seeds for frost tolerant perennials.
* Sow seeds for hardy perennials.
* Plant container, balled-and-burlappedand bare-root trees, shrubs, vines and roses.
* Plant summer blooming shrubs and vines.
* Plant frost tolerant trees.
* Plant conifers and broad-leaf evergreens.

Turn the compost pile, add any soiled hay, grass, bedding and manure mulch which was removed from livestock barns, shelters, rabbit hutches and poultry coops. Don’t have a compost pile! Now is a good time to start one.

Clean and disinfect livestock barns, sheds, rabbit hutches and poultry coops. Don’t forget to disinfect water and feed containers. Clean and disinfect nest boxes add new nesting materials to nest boxes. If necessary spray inside walls, floor, ceiling, nest boxes and roost to control mites.

Repair winter damaged fences and gates. Check barns, sheds, hutches and coops for winter damage, repair as necessary.

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USA Wheat Production – Break Even Price / Bushels Per-Acre

Any consumer that holds onto the belief that farmers are getting rich feeding America should know that this is a myth.

The figures listed are for the 2015 wheat growing season.
There are two numbers that you should be carefully comparing.
The ‘Average’ bushels per-acre harvested and the number of bushels per-acre to reach the break even price.

* USDA Said “A December 2015 price range of $4.80-$5.20 /bu was forecast with a midpoint of $5.00 /bu, the lowest level since $4.87 /bu in 2009.

* USDA U.S. Wheat Forecast for 2016/17: Projected yields of 45.9 bu/acre. U.S. wheat prices are projected to be $4.40 /bu – down from $5.00 /bu in 2015/16.

Next time one of your friends whine about the cost of flour or bread, remind them flour and bread cost Is Not Caused By The American Farmer.
They should turn their anger and questions to Mega companies like General Mills, Proctor and Gamble, Gold Metal, Pillsbury, Target and Walmart stores.

Table. 1. Cost of production, estimated price, and break-even points for crops grown in southwest Nebraska and the Panhandle.  (Source: For left four columns is UNL Crop Production Budgets)
Budget Cost per Acre Yield Break-even Price/Unit Estimated Price Break-even Yield (bu)
Wheat, No-Till after Row Crop $283.47 45 bu $6.30 $5.502 51.52
Wheat, No-Till before Corn, 2 Crops in 3 years $352.27 60 bu $5.87 $5.502 64.03
Wheat, No-Till Fallow, 1 Crop in 2 Years $288.83 55 bu $5.25 $5.522 52.31
Wheat, Stubble Mulch Fallow, 1 Crop in 2 Years $300.28 50 bu $6.01 $5.522 54.38
Wheat, Clean Till Fallow, 1 Crop in 2 Years $287.73 45 bu $6.39 $5.522 52.11
Wheat, No-Till after Beans, Pivot Irrigated $508.19 90 bu $5.65 $5.732 88.66

Spring Is Very Near

Knowing your last ‘Normal’ Spring frost / freeze date is imperative before you start planting flower and vegetable seed or setting out seedlings. Seed and seedlings planted to early will not germinate well and seedlings may be killed by a hard frost / freeze.

Grin … I know some of us still havent finished our Fall prepration project(s).
Things like:
Gasoline powered equipment, lawn mowers, weed eaters, leaf blowers, tillers and such need.
* Clean equipment removing dirt, grease and spilled oil.
* Fuel drained or at least fuel stabilizer added to fuel tanks.
* Fuel filters replaced.
* Oil drained, oil and filters replaced.
* Cutting blades removed, inspected and sharpened or replaced.

* Review your vegetable and flower garden plans.
When reviewing your garden catalogs for new vegetable/flower varieties to try, an important consideration is improved insect and/or disease resistance. Watch also for drought tolerant and bush types.

* Prune house plants to keep them shapely. Pinch back new growth to promote bushy plants. Check house plants closely for insect infestations.
Quarantine gift plants until you determine that they are not harboring disease or insect pests.

* House plants with large leaves and smooth foliage, such as philodendrons, dracaena and rubber plant benefit if their leaves are washed to remove dust and grime, washing helps keep the leaf pores open.

* Clean crusty clay and plastic pots, add one cup each of white vinegar and household bleach to a gallon of warm water and soak the pots. For heavily crusted pots, scrub with a steel wool pad after soaking for 12 hours.
Rinse well in warm clear water. Allow pots to air dry, exposing them to direct sun light to dry is helpful in killing bacteria.

* Now is a good time to locate and purchase a ton or two of well rotted animal manure or well composted plant based compost to be tilled into your Spring garden plot.

cold frames and hotbeds Yes I do know (I do have a calendar) it’s still mid-winter in North America. However now is a good time to undertake a easy useful project.
It’s time to be building your cold frame(s) and hotbed(s) to get a head start on Spring Gardening and to extend your gardening season well into the winter months. Extension Horticulture Specialist, Virginia Tech get the most out of a garden, you can extend the growing season by sheltering plants from cold weather both in early spring and during the fall.
University of Missouri Department of Horticulture Building and Using Hotbeds and Cold frames.
Even a small cold frame or hotbed can provide your family with a lot of fresh healthy salad greens and cooking herbs this winter. There’s something magical about the taste of your own fresh home grown salad.

Construction Plan for an easy to build Hot Bed.

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EARTH KIND – What’s This All About?

Earth Kind is not what I first thought. It’s not an over the top, radical plan to save planet Earth in an over the top, unrealistic, unsustainable plan.

Earth Kind it turns out is a common sense approach to feeding your family home grown healthy food while protecting an enhancing out environment.

Texas Cooperative Extension has implemented the EARTH-KIND program[#1]. This program combines the best organic and traditional gardening principles to create a new horticultural system, a system based on real world effectiveness and environmental responsibility.

The environment we live in is in a big part the environment made by us, you and I. Each of us is and should be responsible for our own landscapes and gardens. If we do our fair share and practice environmentally responsible landscaping and gardening techniques, a major step will be taken toward ridding the world of the polluting effects of waste and contamination.

Here are a few Earth Kind plans that can be easily implemented in your existing garden landscape.
* Mulch – adding and maintaining a three-inch layer of plant-derived mulch, such as native hardwood, will significantly reduce the amount of water required in the landscape. This is especially true when drip irrigation is placed underneath it. Mulch also helps prevent weeds and erosion, modifies the soil temperature, and serves as continuous supply of organic matter for the soil beneath.
Mulch can easily be added to an existing landscape and may be available free from municipal or utility sites.

* Integrated Pest Management (IPM) This is a balanced approach to pest control that focuses on using cultural, biological, and mechanical control measures.
Under IPM, chemical control is used only as a last resort. Strategies include using pest and disease tolerant plants, preserving pest’s natural enemies, and excluding or physically removing pests.
Chemical treatments are selected carefully and used only when pest populations warrant such measures.
In the case of chemical control, select the product that is least toxic, but yet still effective, and avoid using broad-spectrum insecticides that also kill

* Composting can convert yard waste such as leaves, grass clippings, and pruning waste into compost, rather than paying to have it removed and added to a land fill.
A properly managed compost pile can produce a valuable soil amendment in one to three months and often without disagreeable odors.
Compost is derived from once-living material so it contains most of the nutrients that plants need in a slow-release form, it improves soil structure, and best of all it is free.

* Preparing your planting areas. Preparing the soil properly can drastically reduce the need for fertilizers in both new and existing beds.
It can also reduce disease problems and the amount of water required.
Incorporating at least 3 inches of finished, plant-derived compost into the soil will improve the nutrient and water holding capacity in sandy soils and improve drainage in clay.
Compost supplies nutrients slowly, encourages beneficial soil microorganisms, and allows roots to penetrate deeper for greater water uptake.
Raised beds approximately 12 inches high and crowned in the center will greatly
improve plant performance where soils drain poorly.

[#1]Earth-Kind Gardening Index This is an extensive and in my humble opinion a must have Gardening Reference Document.

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Garden Pest Control – Simple and Easy

Buy and Grow vigorous, healthy plants, they will tolerate a few pest better than a plant that is weak, suffering from low fertility, dry stress or that have been over watered.

Stressed plants are more likely to be attacked by insects and suffer more serious damage. Too much or too little water or fertilizer can weaken plants. Pay close attention to your soil, adding lots of organic matter to build good structure, drainage, and water holding capacity. Few plants like their roots setting in water logged soil.
Make sure your soil pH is within the range that your plants need.
Thin plants to recommended spacing so there is ample air flow around plants and keep weeds in check to reduce competition between desirable plants and weeds.

Rotate crops, planting the same crop in the same place year after year can increase pest populations especially populations of soil dwelling insects such as grubs, wireworms, and maggots.

Choose your garden plant varieties carefully. Choose varieties recommended for your area and look for varieties that are resistant to pests you know are a problem in your growing area. For example, butternut squash is resistant to squash vine borer.

Good garden sanitation will go a long way in controlling many pests that overwinter on weeds or plant debris in or near the garden. Remove weeds and organic mulches, which can provide homes for insects, slugs, and snails.

Use barriers to prevent cutworm damage, plant transplants inside collars made from cardboard, roofing paper, or disposable cups with their bottoms removed. The collars should be about 4 inches tall and buried 2 inches into the soil. Squares of carpeting or tar-paper placed securely around young cabbage family plants can prevent cabbage maggot flies from laying eggs at the base of the plants.

Using floating row covers allow air, light, and water through to plants, but keep pest far away from your vegetable plants. Place covers over young crops until they are large enough to fend off pests themselves, or until the pest is no longer around. Use of row hoops is an easy way to maximize the benefits of row covers. Anchor row covers securely with soil, wood, special anchoring pins, or other means so that pests can’t sneak in.

Remove covers about 4 to 6 weeks into the season before temperatures under the covers become too hot for your vegetable crops.
Crops like cucumbers, eggplants, melons, and squash need pollinating insects to set fruit, so remove row covers before plants begin to flower.
Floating row covers are made from spun polyester or other synthetics and are reusable.
Hint: You can also use cheesecloth as a floating row cover.

Take advantage of natural destructive insect enemies. Conserve insects that prey on or parasitize pests. Small wasps, for example, parasitize aphids, leaving bloated gold to bronze “mummies.” Immature lady beetles and lacewings, which look like tiny alligators, also frequent gardens. Other “beneficial insects” include spiders, predatory mites, predatory bugs, predatory flies, and ground beetles.

Introducing predators, parasites, or diseases that kill pests is becoming more practical as we learn more about managing pests. Remember, however, that beneficial insects will move elsewhere if there aren’t enough pests to feed on.

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Butterflies And Worms In The Garden

For the record I do not intentionally attempt to attract Butterflies to my garden. You see a beautiful little flying insect fluttering around your garden.
I see a damn pest that is looking for a place to lay her eggs that will hatch and become destructive, garden plant eaters! Eating my tomato, pepper, squash and cucumber vines!

Keep my idea of Butterflies in mind as you read my posting about attracting Butterflies to your yard and garden.

blue-butterfly To be successful in attracting butterflies to your garden the two things that are a must have, must do.
First selecting and planting the correct plants for feeding Butterflies and their new hatched young caterpillars.
Second most important thing you must do is to provide a proper water source for them to drink without having to leave your garden to find a watering hole.

Plant wild flowers that are native to your area.
Butterflies and native flowering plants have co-evolved over time and depend on each other for survival and reproduction, it is particularly important to plant native flowering plants found growing and adapted to your geographic area.
**Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center has lists of recommended native plants by region and state.

Whether it be native or non-native plant form and color is important. Generally adult butterflies are attracted to red, yellow, orange, pink and purple blossoms that are flat topped or clustered and have short flower tubes. Flowers like morning glory’s and trumpet vines are not good choices to attract Butterflies.

Plant good nectar source flowers in full sun. Your key butterfly nectar source plants should receive full sun from mid-morning to mid-afternoon. Butterfly adults generally feed only in the sun. If sun is limited in your landscape, try adding butterfly nectar sources to the vegetable garden.

Plant wild(native) flowers for continuous blooms. Butterflies need nectar throughout the adult phase of their life. Try to plant so that when one plant stops blooming, another begins.

Attracting Butterflies means saying no to insecticides. Insecticides such as malathion, Sevin, and diazinon that are marketed to kill insects. Don’t use these materials in or near the butterfly garden or better, anywhere on your property. Even “benign” insecticides, such as Bacillus thuringiensis, are lethal to butterflies (while in their caterpillar stage).

Feed your butterfly caterpillars. If you don’t “grow” caterpillars, you will not have many adult Butterflies.
Planting caterpillar food plants in your garden can greatly increase your chances of attracting unusual and uncommon butterflies, while giving you yet another reason to plant an increasing variety of native plants.
In many cases, caterpillars of a Butterfly species feed on only a very limited variety of plants.

Provide a place for butterflies to rest. Butterflies need sun for orientation and to warm their wings for flight. Place flat rocks in your garden to provide space for butterflies to rest and warm in the sun.

Give them a place for puddling(a water source). Butterflies often congregate on wet sand and mud (puddling). Drinking water and extracting minerals from damp puddles. Place coarse sand in a shallow pan and then insert the pan in the soil of your Butterfly garden. Make sure to keep the sand moist.
A thin sponge placed in a shallow water dish will also work as a water source for your Butterflies. Butterflies Do Not Like getting their feet wet.

Common NameFood Source
Acmon Blue – buckwheat, lupines, milkvetch
American Painted Lady – cudweed, everlast
Baird’s Swallowtail – dragon sagebrush
Black Swallowtail – parsley, dill, fennel, common rue
Coral Hairstreak – wild black cherry, American and chickasaw plum, black chokeberry
Dun Skipper – sedges, grasses including purpletop
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – wild black cherry, ash, tulip tree, willow, sweetbay, basswood
Giant Swallowtail – prickly ash, citrus, common rue, hoptree, gas plant, torchwood
Gray Comma – gooseberry, azalea, elm
Great Purple Hairstreak – mistletoe
Gulf Fritillary – maypops, other passion vines
Henry’s Elfin – redbud, dahoon and yaupon hollies, maple-leaved viburnum, blueberries
Monarch – milkweeds
Painted Lady (Cosmopolite) – thistles, mallows, nievitas, yellow fiddleneck
Pygmy Blue – saltbush, lamb’s quarters, pigweed
Red Admiral/White Admiral – wild cherries, black oaks, aspens, yellow and black birch
Silver-Spotted Skipper – locusts, wisteria, other legumes
Spicebush Swallowtail – sassafras, spicebush
Sulphurs – clover, peas, vetch, alfalfa, asters
Variegated Fritillary – passion flower, maypop, violets, stonecrop, purslane
Viceroy – willows, cottonwood, aspen
Western Tailed Blue – vetches, milkvetches
Western Tiger Swallowtail – willow, plum, alder, sycamore, hoptree, ash
Woodland Skipper – grasses
Zebra Swallowtail – pawpaw

Hint: Don’t be concerned if you don’t recognize the Butterflies common name. You may know it by a different name.
However, if you don’t recognize the plants it feeds on, this butterfly is likely not to be found in your area.

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Why is common sense so uncommon?
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