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New England Ecology

New England Ecology

(Or Eat the Damn Deer)

Deer droppings

This week the garden finally thawed out. I can see the grass and soil and the lower trunks of trees again for the first time in months. And right along with that, I see enough deer droppings to cover an acre in an inch-thick layer. I know this because the cleared portion of my three and a half acres is just over one acre… and that’s about covered in deer poo. (OK, yes, I’m exaggerating. A little.)

So it is time to have the deer discussion again. This has been a recurring theme in my world ever since we moved to New England and I planted apple saplings as deer food. Or that’s their version of the story. Other unwitting deer buffets include six cherry trees, three walnuts, twelve each of the blueberry and hazelnut saplings that I intended as an edible hedge on the veg patch, several hundred-foot rows of corn, all the peas I ever planted, same for all the sunflowers, two really expensive apothecary roses (though never the rugosas), a whole slew of willow and viburnum, every strawberry that dared show its rosy cheeks to the sun, and possibly several hundred dollars worth of tulip bulbs.

Meanwhile, the deer diners have left tips in the form of small, blood-sucking parasites that gave my aging dog Lyme disease and hastened her demise. They also latched on to my body frequently enough to merit several trips to the doctor to be tested. (Four negative, one “probably but can’t confirm” because the little buggers go dormant. They may still be in there, causing periodic mayhem.)…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

12-Plus Methods For Keeping Challenging Weeds and Pests Out of the Garden

12-PLUS METHODS FOR KEEPING CHALLENGING WEEDS AND PESTS OUT OF THE GARDEN

With organic gardening, especially at the outset, comes a few new challenges for transitioning growers. Pesticides and other chemicals have, for several decades, become the go-to solution for all things in the garden, and now that many of us are clearing our heads from that fog, we are left to rediscover methods for dealing with everyday garden problems. 

When herbicides have been the trick for combating weeds, how do we do it without the chemicals? Where aphids once elicited a poison spray (on our food no less), how do we now stop them from eating our crops? When voles are feasting, how do we protect our food without resorting to awful compound killers? This is our food after all, so we have cause to protect it! If we have to do so without chemicals (which seems a form of protection in its own right), what are we to do? 

The permaculture way is to find somewhat natural solutions (we kind of stage them) to such problems. Bill Mollison is famously quoted as claiming there isn’t slug problem but rather a duck shortage. In other words, we can control slugs with ducks and get more production from the system on the whole. With permaculture techniques, solutions to problems have multiple functions in the garden. Not only will pest insects be thwarted, but pollinators will be invited. Not only will weeds be suppressed, but the soil life will be enlivened. Stacking solutions is how permaculture gardens, much more organically than typical organic gardens, handle weeds and pests, as well as fertility, soil structuring, and so on.  

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

12-Plus Methods For Keeping Challenging Weeds and Pests Out of the Garden

12-PLUS METHODS FOR KEEPING CHALLENGING WEEDS AND PESTS OUT OF THE GARDEN

With organic gardening, especially at the outset, comes a few new challenges for transitioning growers. Pesticides and other chemicals have, for several decades, become the go-to solution for all things in the garden, and now that many of us are clearing our heads from that fog, we are left to rediscover methods for dealing with everyday garden problems. 

When herbicides have been the trick for combating weeds, how do we do it without the chemicals? Where aphids once elicited a poison spray (on our food no less), how do we now stop them from eating our crops? When voles are feasting, how do we protect our food without resorting to awful compound killers? This is our food after all, so we have cause to protect it! If we have to do so without chemicals (which seems a form of protection in its own right), what are we to do? 

The permaculture way is to find somewhat natural solutions (we kind of stage them) to such problems. Bill Mollison is famously quoted as claiming there isn’t slug problem but rather a duck shortage. In other words, we can control slugs with ducks and get more production from the system on the whole. With permaculture techniques, solutions to problems have multiple functions in the garden. Not only will pest insects be thwarted, but pollinators will be invited. Not only will weeds be suppressed, but the soil life will be enlivened. Stacking solutions is how permaculture gardens, much more organically than typical organic gardens, handle weeds and pests, as well as fertility, soil structuring, and so on.  

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Dealing with Pantry Pests: Bugs

Dealing with Pantry Pests: Bugs

When it comes to stocking the pantry, many of us have heard the advice to rotate our food using the “first in, first out” (FIFO) concept. However, a lot of folks don’t realize how vital this practice is when it comes to preventing an infestation of pantry pests in our food supplies.

Did you know that the bulk of insect infestations can simply be addressed through prevention, including having an eye on your pantry and keeping things moving through it? While it’s very easy – and common – to go purchase cases of canned goods, some boxes of pasta, and our favorite cake mixes and just let them sit on the shelf until a time of need, it’s actually the worst thing to do if we want to be able to eat that food before the critters do.

Common pantry pests to look out for

There are a variety of pantry pests that are common across North America, including the following:

  • Dermestid beetle
  • Indian meal moth
  • Sawtoothed grain beetle
  • Confused flour beetle
  • Rice weevil
  • Maize weevil
  • Red flour beetle.

Other beetles and moths may also infest stored food products, so check with your local agricultural extension for pests most common in your region.

How do pantry pests get in your food?

While some of these insects may work their way into our kitchens from the great outdoors, the bulk of them are already in the food products we bring home.

An infestation may originate in a processing plant, a warehouse where the products were stored, delivery vehicles, or in a retail store. The longer a food item is stored in one place, the more its chances of infestation increase. Insects may be present in any form of development, from egg to adult, but the tiny eggs are seldom seen.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

EU Banned Pesticides to Help Bees, But Now Other Bugs Are Invading

EU Banned Pesticides to Help Bees, But Now Other Bugs Are Invading

The European Union has a bug problem.

After regulators in late 2013 banned pesticides called neonicotinoids, linked in some studies to the unintended deaths of bees, farmers across the continent applied older chemicals to which many pests had developed a resistance, allowing them to survive. Now, infestations may lead to a 15 percent drop in this year’s European harvest of rapeseed, the region’s primary source of vegetable oil used to make food ingredients and biodiesel, according to researcher Oil World.

“When we remove a tool from the box, that puts even more pressure on the tools we’ve got left,” said farmer Martin Jenkins, who has seen flea beetles for the first time in almost a decade on his 750 acres of rapeseed outside Cambridge, England. “More pesticides are being used, and even more ridiculous is there will be massively less rapeseed.”

At issue for the EU was protecting bees that farmers rely upon to pollinate more than 80 percent of Europe’s crops and wild plants, valued at 22 billion euros ($26 billion) annually. While research on how neonicotinoids affect beneficial insects hasn’t been conclusive, regulators said the risks were worth imposing a two-year ban that began in December 2013. The Canadian province of Ontario proposed similar restrictions last year, and new rules are under review in the U.S., the biggest oilseed producer.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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